Fear and Trembling by Soren Kierkegaard

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In Soren Kierkegaard’s Fear and Trembling, the biblical story of Abraham is retold with four different viewpoints, to narrow on the religious and the ethical. The Religious is that stage of life when the individual is found to be in “an absolute relation with the absolute”, and the ethical being the “expression of the universal, where all actions are done publicly and for the common good.“ Kierkegaard writes that Abraham killing Isaac is ethically wrong, but religiously right. But the point that Kierkegaard is driving home is the distinction between faith and resignation. Faith is what it takes to “leap into the absurd, something that cannot be rationally explained, transcending the intelligible.” Resignation is the sacrifice of something dear and the following reconciliation with that loss. Kierkegaard cites the example of Agamemnon who must reconcile himself to the loss of his beloved daughter, Iphigenia. Back to the Abraham story, it would have been resignation if Abraham merely had tried to kill Isaac on the basis of the infallibility of God’s wish. But Abraham made the leap of faith to believe that God would not commit something unethical, and hence, spare Isaac.

But doesn’t this teleological suspension of the ethical by Abraham reflect an intrinsic incongruity? By teleological suspension of the ethical, one means the suspension of the moral law for the sake of a higher law. According to Kierkegaard, had Abraham been willing to kill Isaac just because God had told him to do so would have been resignation or obedience. But Abraham is willing because he believes in the virtue of God to not kill Isaac. That is faith. And this ostensible incongruity is Kierkegaard’s distinction between Faith and Resignation.

Another thing I would like to talk about is the compartmentalization of human life into three stages: Aesthetics, Ethical and Religious. Each reflects inherent contradictions with each other and is, hence, incongruent to each other. The Aesthetic,...
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