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Kierkegaards Presentation Of Faith Philosophy Essay

Kierkegaard presented faith as a “subjective, inward passion that cannot be mediated or explained.” Faith is also when you have an “absolute relationship to the absolute.” (p.85 Kierkegaard) He said that faith comes in the religious stage and that it is constantly renewed. He also mentioned that faith is a “paradox that, the single individual is higher than the universal” and that the “finite is higher than the infinite.” (p.84, Kierkegaard). This is a “paradox” because it contradicts what he said for the ethical stage where “the universal is higher than the individual” and “that the infinite is higher than the finite.”. The “paradox” explains how it is that an unethical murderer (Abraham), is thought of as “the father of faith” in the next stage on life’s ways.

Kierkegaard’s presentation of faith differentiates between the different kinds of “suspending the ethical” because in the religious stage, the ethical is suspended to gain faith by believing in the “absurd”. (p. 83 Kierkegaard) It is for religious reason and duty based. There are many forms of “suspending the ethical” such as the “deontological” (duty based) “suspension of the ethical” that Kant put forth in his theories. A solder at his job has to obey the orders and do his job such as killing other people because it is his job. The solder is not responsible for the consequences of his actions. If he did not do as he was ordered, he would be unethical “deontologically”. In his case he has to “suspend the ethical” for the “deontological ethics”. He has to kill people which is unethical because he cannot universalize it but is ethical because doing his job or duty can be universalized. This type of “suspending the ethical” has nothing to do with the religious stage or faith because he is not asked to do that by god, he is asked by his leaders which makes it for the ethical stage.

If a similar case of a man killing people but because god asked him to kill the people, if he does that then it would be “suspending the ethical” for the religious stage and to prove faith. Just like Abraham, when he “suspends the ethical” to prove his faith to god, he takes the “leap of faith into the absurd” which is a step to faith and he infinitely resigns his long waited for son, believing that he would get him back. That is the “teleological suspension of the ethical”.

Letting people die so others live is hard to categorize as ethical because who are we to choose who dies and who lives? Why should we assume that the larger number of people saved by letting the smaller number of people die is for the good of the country or the universe? The smaller number of people may be more useful to the universe than the large number of people. More is not necessarily better. This can be ethical and unethical at the same time because it can either be seen through “deontological ethics” or “consequential ethics”. Because this case is not for a religious reason or purpose, I will not atempt to categorize it as it has nothing to do with faith.

Kierkegaard said “that the individual can easily take this paradox for temptation” and that “many people have natural aversion to the paradox” because the paradox is not explainable as Kierkegaard said, (p. 88, Kierkegaard). The ethical is the temptation that is keeping Abraham form doing his divine duty. If that means that the ethical is a temptation and that a temptation is something that keeps a person from carrying out a duty, then the ethical is not ethical because it is not ethical to stop some one from carry out their duty.

Kierkegaard is a double thinker, because if the ethical is unethical at the religious stage and “suspending the ethical” at the religious stage is unethical at the ethical stage, then what is ethical? This he may call the “paradox” because it is unexplainable and absurd.

Lets assume that it is ethical to “suspend the ethical for a higher reason”, how can the individual distinguish between what god is asking him to do and insanity? If the individual was in fact insane as some people may see Abraham, then he would believe that god is talking to him when in fact god is not. How can an individual distinguish between what is faith and what is insanity when “truth is subjective”? To an insane individual, it is true to him that he has faith and that god is talking to him, also with the individual with real faith. These cases cannot be distinguished between because faith is a paradox.

Kierkegaard and Kant would both say that “divine command theory” is deontological ethics which makes it ethical because duty is universalizable. This makes “suspending the ethical for a higher purpose” ethical. So, if god asked an individual to kill, he should kill for ethical divine command purposes. The problem here again is how to distinguish between divine commands and insanity?

Kierkegaard’s answer to all of the questions in the ( Problema 1, Fear and Trembling) is a “paradox”. It seems like anything related to faith that is not explainable or anything he cannot justify rationally is a “paradox” to him .

I may be thinking that Kierkegaard is not making sense by his contradiction and double thinking because I think empirically and rationally. I do not believe something unless it is proven. Faith cannot be proven to people because it is incommunicable. The only way I would believe is if I experience faith. Even then, It is not certain that it is faith that I have because “truth is subjective” and I may be simply insane.

In my opinion, “suspending the ethical” because we think god asked us to, should not be carried out because of all the unexplainable “paradoxes”. The only time when you can distinguish between real faith and pure insanity is when its too late, in the after life if there is one.

The ethical shouldn’t be suspended at all because even when you “suspend the ethical” for deontological ethics, you didn’t really “suspend the ethical” , you only suspended it “teloelogically” because you can universalize it. It is “teleological suspension of the ethical” because “teleological” is based on “consequential ethics” not “deontological ethics”.

Anything that you can universalize is ethical, as Kant and Kierkegaard said. This means that the ethical should not be suspended for any higher reason in my opinion.


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