Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Summary: Fear and Trembling / Kierkegaard - Problem II - part 2

The paradox of faith (described in part 1 of the summary) is for Kierkegaard beyond mediation and beyond Dialectical resolution. The Paradox also leaves the individual in a solitary state since he cannot appeal to the external ethical. "Faith is this paradox, and the individual absolutely cannot make himself intelligible to anybody (Fear and Trembling, p.120)". This is another level of the paradox of Abraham who does something completely selfish for himself which is at the same time completely selfless in relation to the absolute. The knight of faith has to carry alone this paradox as a burden all the long way to Mount Moriah. "only the individual becomes a knight of faith as the particular individual, and this is the greatness of this knighthood" (Ibid).

Kierkegaard quotes Luke 14:26 ("If anyone comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters—yes, even their own life—such a person cannot be my disciple") and says that commentary which tries to avoid the harshness of these words fails to understand their meaning. For Kierkegaard only he who literally follows this passage can erect a building of faith. Kierkegaard explains that "The absolute duty may cause one to do what ethics would forbid, but by no means can it cause the knight of faith to cease to Love" (Fear and Trembling, p.122). What seems on the outside as Abraham hating Isaac is in fact Abraham loving him even more, otherwise there would be no sacrifice. The sacrifice is the paradox between Abraham's love for Isaac and his love for God. This cannot be understood by bystanders, who will only see Abraham as a murderer.

Being the knight of faith has to break beyond the ethical and cannot stay within it, since such a paradoxical command like the one Abraham received cannot be mandated by law (like the church, which is a mediating function). This once again means for Kierkegaard that the knight of faith is solitary in his existence (and not by loving others less, on the contrary). And solitude for Kierkegaard is a harsh business which requires rare courage since he who knows the great " knows its terror–and apart from the terror one does not know the great at all" (Fear and Trembling, p.124).    

Back to the main summary of Fear and Trembling
or by chapter:
Eulogy on Abraham
Preliminary Expectoration
Problem I
Problem II
Problem III