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Re: What is the purpose of F&T

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  • jimstuart46
    Don, In your post 8406, you write: My problem with what you say here is that if Silentio is not calling for a higher ethic, then you are saying that
    Message 1 of 56 , Jul 1, 2009
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      Don,

      In your post 8406, you write:

      "My problem with what you say here is that if Silentio is not calling for a "higher ethic," then you are saying that according to Silentio (and K) God is unethical. What you are really saying is that God is breaking an absolute ethical law. If faith is not a "higher ethics" then God is unethical or you are making the man-made laws of first ethics into an absolute, higher than God. This has been the brunt of my argument all along. I don't think that is what Silentio intends to say. He intends to say that Hegel's ethics is not the final word, it remains finite, incomplete and misinterpreted. He is also saying that ethics can never be reduced to a set of clear-cut finite laws. Love always considers each individual situation in determining what needs to be done rather than looking up a law to be followed.

      The answer to the question "Is there ever a suspension of the ethical?" is NO. It is that if God calls for it, it is because the rule is either wrong or, more likely, the interpretation of it is wrong for this situation and perhaps for all situations. The final arbitrator of ethics is the highest – God."

      Thank you for this clear statement of your understanding of F&T. I can see why you may be drawn to this interpretation of Silentio, however I believe that your interpretation is profoundly mistaken.

      First, as Jim R points out, Silentio does say that in relation to Abraham and his following of God's personal command to him that he kill Isaac, we have a case of the "teleological suspension of the ethical". Here is one place when Silentio says this:

      "The difference between the tragic hero [Agamemnon, Jephthah,
      Brutus] and Abraham is obvious enough. The tragic hero stays within
      the ethical. He lets an expression of the ethical have its telos in
      a higher expression of the ethical; he reduces the ethical relation
      between father and son, or daughter and father, to a sentiment that
      has its dialectic in its relation to the idea of the ethical life.
      Here, then, there can be no question of a teleological suspension of
      the ethical itself. With Abraham it is different. In his action he
      overstepped the ethical altogether, and had a higher telos outside
      it, in relation to which he suspended it. ... It is not to save a
      nation, nor to uphold the idea of the state, that Abraham did it,
      not to appease angry gods. ... While, then, the tragic hero is great
      through his deed's being an expression of the ethical life, Abraham
      is great through an act of purely personal virtue." (F&T, Hannay 87-
      8)

      So when you write "The answer to the question "Is there ever a suspension of the ethical?" is NO", you are blatantly contradicting what Silentio writes in F&T.

      Second, ironically enough, you are agreeing with the Hegelians. According to Hegel a wedge cannot be driven between the ethical and God. For Hegel, the demands of God and the demands of ethics are one. You, in effect, are saying the same thing.

      Silentio thinks that the Hegelians do not take sin and faith seriously enough. According to Silentio, when we sin there is the "teleological suspension of the ethical", but God is not bound by ethical consideration, He can forgive the sinner and if the sinner makes the leap to faith the separation between God and the individual – the separation caused by the individual's sin – can be removed.

      Third, I agree with you that "ethics can never be reduced to a set of clear-cut finite laws. Love always considers each individual situation in determining what needs to be done rather than looking up a law to be followed." Silentio can agree with this, but this thought is not central to his message in F&T. The central message of F&T is that first the individual must make the movement of infinite resignation (something the Danish Hegelians did not do), then the individual must make the leap to (Christian) faith, something even the mighty Socrates did not do. Silentio is impressing on his readers how difficult becoming a Christian really is – one must face the sort of trial Abraham had to face. Faith, for K/p means believing the absolute paradox.

      Fourth, on your interpretation of F&T, murdering one's son counts as a higher ethical truth than obeying the mundane ethics of one's society. But surely this is absurd.

      Jim S
    • James Rovira
      This is a good quotations supporting your point, Jim S. I d suggest you be open to the possibility of contradictory language in K and ask yourself how you d
      Message 56 of 56 , Jul 8, 2009
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        This is a good quotations supporting your point, Jim S. I'd suggest
        you be open to the possibility of contradictory language in K and ask
        yourself how you'd account for it, some of which is alluded to in the
        Exordium in FT. This is a standard Christian sentiment that's usually
        explained in terms of relative loves rather than positive hatred. K
        probably dislikes standard Christian treatments of the theme of
        "hating the world" and wants to confront his readers with the offense
        behind those words so they will have to confront the words rather than
        passively and safely accept them.

        Jim R

        On Wed, Jul 8, 2009 at 4:45 PM, jimstuart46<jjimstuart@...> wrote:
        >
        >
        > Don,
        >
        > This is my final post in the trilogy of justifications of my earlier
        > assertions.
        >
        > Here I answer your request that I justify my statement that "Kierkegaard's
        > world view ... involves a hatred of this life". The quote is taken from
        > Issue 10 of "The Instant":
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