The concept of universal, or the universality of the ethical, is a term borrowed by Kierkegaard from Hegel in order to relate to morals. The idea in the universality of the ethical is that morals is something common to all that exists in the common sphere and in relation to it (unlike the personal hedonistic aesthetic or the personal religious faith). The universal for Kierkegaard is a noble moral aspiration in its broadest terms. It has to do with social norms and it is the product of reason shared by all. The Universal for Kierkegaard regards all that is common to the individual and other people, from marriage to civic duties.
But unlike his contemporary Hegelian thinkers, for Kierkegaard the universal has moral value only when the individual seeks to realize it out of his own conscience and at his own responsibility (see Kierkegaard's concept of choice). Kierkegaard strictly denies any universal which is upheld by means of tradition, habit, gain of simply conformism, since the universal for him should only originate in the original self. The relationship with the universal is both a personal (his broken engagement) and theoretical focus of Kierkegaard's existential philosophy. For example Kierkegaard determines his three spheres of existence (the aesthetic, ethical and religious faith) through their differing stand towards the universal. In his famous Fear and Trembling Kierkegaard tries to consider Abraham's deeds in relation to the universal, and he asks the question of whether the universal can be suspended for an individual purpose.