He charges his Enlightenment contemporaries, trusting in science rather than faith, with attempting to go “further than faith.” What could be further than faith, though? His justification is once again, the paradox; for if he is the paradox it is not by virtue of being anything universal, but of being the particular.”. Kierkegaard's classic and most important example of such a leap is Abraham's Leap of faith.In Fear and Trembling Kierkegaard suggests that the ethical is incommensurable with the religious, killing your own child cannot be mediated with obeying God. “What now is absurd? “Then how did Abraham exist? This is not because he didn’t love Isaac, but because Abraham remained steadfast in his faith that God would provide Isaac to him. In Fear and Trembling, Søren Kierkegaard’s pseudonymous author Johannes de Silentio deals with the question about the nature of true faith.De Silentio indicates that true faith can only be arrived at through the individual and his engagement with the paradox of faith. Similarly, the reader approaching this passage in Scripture, who does not share Abraham’s faith in God sees a would-be murder, while the Christian believer sees a sacrificial act of faith. When he and Isaac complete their journey to Moriah, Isaac asks, “Where is the ram for the sacrifice?” to which Abraham replies, “God will provide the ram Himself.” These being the only words recorded from Abraham, it would seem that he never doubted God’s goodness or promise in providing him with a son. Is he justified? For centuries philosopher and theologians have debated the existence of God and the legitimacy of religion, trying to justify faith through logic. He is making the choice to put his faith in God above the ethical decision to keep his son alive. Kierkegaard explores examples from literature which models the relationship between silence and disclosure as either ethical or unethical, depending on the situation; after which, he returns to Abraham. This faith permeates the life of the faithful, and sparks the passion which Kierkegaard earlier lamented was lost in his generation. Inspired by Emerson’s “The American Scholar,” we are exploring timeless wisdom which endures to inform our approaches to learning, relationships and leadership.Click here for all the posts in this series. Furthermore, it is easy to relate and sympathize with these tragic heroes; indeed, we pray for that we would have the courage to do what was required in the time of crisis. Most of us, as Kierkegaard comments, would have regarded Isaac as lost from that moment on. Because Abraham was willing to sacrifice Isaac, Kierkegaard says, this leaves us with two options; Abraham is either a murderer or a paradox. The religious sphere is perhaps the most difficult to inhabit, as it requires giving up everything, including ethical standards and the universal good in order to live a life devoted to God. Fear and Trembling as a text is densely packed with significance. He concludes with a final thought on where faith lies for each age, “Many in every generation may not come that far, but none comes further.”. He loves Isaac with the love of a father, as well as the treasuring adoration only developed by years of waiting, struggling, and expecting. The first version sees Abraham telling Isaac of the requirement God has made, which results in Isaac being terrified of his father. First of all, the ethical sphere is logical and rational: it operates on a set group or rules and values (primarily that the universal shall be placed before the individual) and makes logical sense. The prevailing ethical code of the day was Immanuel Kant’s Categorical Imperative: “Act always in such a way that one could with the maxim (or principle) of one’s action could become universal law (Anderson 47).” This is not too far removed from the idea that one should do unto others what one would have others do unto them, or the Biblical “love your neighbor as yourself.” All these ethical codes emphasize acting in a way that one wishes others would act, and as such seek to establish a moral community based on diminishing the individual’s desires for the betterment of everyone’s desires, the universal.

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