This is the article… The professor also wrote his own article digest: The central ethical question which is addressed here is “ Does one have the duty to suspend basic ethical principles, in response to what one considers “higher orders”? 1. Kierkegaard seeks to explore whether it is ever legitimate to suspend the established ethical demands to fulfill certain acts that the individual considers to be of increased moral rightness (obeying what you believe God demands of you, when you are the ONLY one who heard God’s command) 2. He begins his essay by saying that the ethical is universal and applies to everyone at every instant. 3. The ethical does not have a telos (purpose or goal in Greek) because it is a telos in itself. 4. The individual is the particular, whose telos is the universal. In other words it is the duty of the individual to align him/herself with universal ethical principles. 5. Where the universal ethical principles and individual (particular in Kierkegaard) ethical principles clash it is the individual who has to eliminate his particularity in order to become the universal. 6. When the individual asserts his particularity over the universal, he sins, and the only way to reconcile himself with the demands of the universal is to acknowledge his sin. 7. In other words, given the universals that exist, whenever one believes that he is the ONLY one who is right, that is evidence that he is wrong. 8. Once an individual has accepted universal ethical principles, yet feels that in a particular situation he does not need to obey those principles, he is actually in temptation. 9. The highest thing that can be said of man is that he subjects himself to universal ethical principles. 10. However, if that is so, then it would be a contradiction to say that such goals (his teleos) might be abandoned (teleologically suspended). 11. In his chapter “The Good and the Conscience” Hegel sees man as particular and regards such a character as “a moral form of evil”. 12. Since the evil can only be annulled in the teleology of the moral, the individual who remains at this stage is either sinning or always subject to temptation. 13. Kierkegaard thinks that Hegel is wrong in his analysis when he talks of faith because 14. Abraham enjoys honor as the father of faith, whereas he should be prosecuted and convicted of murder. 15. Faith presents this paradox of the particular being higher than the universal. 16. The universal here is that it is the father’s responsibility to love his son. 17. The particular here is that Abraham is being lauded because he went against this universal in being willing to kill his son. 18. How is it that instead of being convicted of attempted murder, he is seen as the father of the faithful? 19. Kierkegaard presents this idea thusly: The individual or particular already within the universal isolates himself as higher than the universal. The particular individual after being subordinated to the universal becomes superior to the universal. This position cannot be mediated because all mediation comes by virtue of the universal. 20. By acting against his universal beliefs, “that the father love his son” and believing that God spoke only to him to fulfill his duty (i.e., the particular) he acted upon faith. 21. Faith is the paradox that confronted Abraham to succumb to his “particular” principles to express “God’s will”, and that is the only reason Abraham is not considered a murderer. 22. Kierkegaard: the paradox of faith maybe easily mistaken for a temptation, therefore those who have faith should set up certain criteria for distinguishing the paradox from a temptation. 23. Kierkegaard believes that Abraham “acts by virtue of the absurd” because his personal ethics seem to be above the universal. 24. There is no analogy for Abraham’s teleological suspension of the ethical. The closest one gets to that is the case of the tragic hero. But Abraham is no tragic hero. 25. Three cases of tragic heroes are reviewed: Agamemnon, Jephthah, and Brutus. 26. Each tragic hero sacrificed a loved one while struggling with their grief for the greater god of the kingdom. 27. But these heroes acted within the ethical, within the universal. 28. Abraham acted within the particular; he was not a tragic hero 29. The tragic hero is great by reason of his moral virtue; Abraham is great by reason of his purely personal virtue. 30. For Kierkegaard, a trial or a temptation is that which would keep one from doing his duty. 31. In the case of Abraham the temptation itself is the ethical which would keep him from doing God’s will. 32. Kierkegaard says that duty is “precisely the expression for God’s will.” 33. Kierkegaard says that in our age one can hear a response related to the paradox in these terms: “it will be judged by the result”. 34. He also mentions that there is a group of people, called by him Docents whose lifework is to judge the great according to the result. Such behavior toward the great is a mixture of arrogance and misery. 35. They are arrogant because they think that they are called to be judges 36. They are miserable because they do not feel that their lives are even in the remotest degree akin to the great. 37. When a man who has a little higher way of thinking approaches what is great it can never escape his mind that it has been customary that the result comes last. But the beginning has to be known in order to appreciate the great actions. 38. Nevertheless, people are curious about the result and when they know it they are edified. 39. Kierkegaard mentions that it is not what happens to a man what makes him great, but what he does. 40. Abraham and Mary became great not because they were exempted from distress, torment and paradox, but they became great through distress, torment and paradox.
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