Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Summary: Fear and Trembling / Kierkegaard - Problem II - part 3

Kierkegaard looks closely at the Paradox of faith, holding that "The tragic hero renounces himself in order to express the universal, the knight of faith renounces the universal in order to become the individual" (Fear and Trembling, p.124). The knight of faith for Kierkegaard does not devalue or denounce the universal ethical and this is why he sadly knows the price of being outside of it. Has he not been regarded as lunatic by other, he would have been a fraud.

The tragic hero pays a heavy price but he does it out of assurance that his did is done out of and by the universal ethical, and this is why we praise him. But Abraham walks alone and is not tested in the name of the universal. Abraham in Kierkegaard's account was tested his whole life, his existence always under question, but he maintained faith and in the story of Isaac he his test once more. In a way the prolonged wait for Isaac, in which he kept believing that he would have a son as God promised, is what prepared Abraham to be willing to kill his son. Though admiring it, Abraham cannot find assurance and support in the ethical (unlike the tragic hero), and his life are full of doubts and fears that are the heavy burden of the knight of faith. The knight of faith will not be understood by others. Pain is the evidence that he is headed in the right direction. He does not teach since his actions can only be understood by those who, like him, walk their own path.    

Kierkegaard concludes "Problem II" of "Fear and Trembling" by returning to its original question: "Is there such a thing as an absolute duty toward God?". If there is such a thing, Kierkegaard holds, it must be this kind of paradoxical faith in which "the individual as the individual is higher than the universal and as the individual stands in an absolute relation to the absolute". (Fear and Trembling, P.127)