Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Summary:Problem II / Fear and Trembling by Kierkegaard

In "Problem II", the fourth chapter of "Fear and Trembling", Kierkegaard returns to the Hegelian assertion that opened "Problem I" according to which "The ethical is the universal". Kierkegaard says that if follows from this that this that ethical is once again divine and this makes any duty a duty towards God. But such an abstract equation of God and ethics in fact leaves God out of the picture by bounding man only within the compass of moral duty which is never directed at God. In such a case "God becomes an invisible vanishing point, a powerless thought, His power being only in the ethical which is the content of existence" (Fear and Trembling, p.117).

Kierkegaard asks if there can be anything in human life which transcends the ethical? in order to answer this question he starts a debate with Hegelian philosophy which holds that the external is higher than the inner. The inner is defined by the external which is the manifestation and realization of the inner. But faith, according to Kierkegaard, is a Paradox  in which the inner has the upper hand over the external. Faith for Kierkegaard can only come from an inner movement towards the infinite which yields faith.

The Paradox of faith according to Kierkegaard is "that the individual is higher than the universal, that the individual... determines his relation to the universal by his relation to the absolute, not his relation to the absolute by his relation to the universal" (Fear and Trembling, p.119). If we set a complete duty to face the divine absolute, then it follows that there is something higher than the ethical, which can bring someone to do something extra-ethical in the name of his Love for God. If it were otherwise, Kierkegaard asserts, faith would not have any place nor meaning. 

or by chapter:
Problem II