Answer to Question #247668 in Philosophy for sally

Question #247668

Describe the “teleological suspension of the ethical.” Make sure to contrast this idea with the case of a “tragic hero.” What does this distinction say about Kierkegaard’s understanding of the relation between an individual and the society


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Expert's answer
2021-10-07T16:19:01-0400

Kierkegaard composes the “teleological suspension of the ethical,” that is, the suspension of ethical comments for manners in order to follow a higher, divinely-imposed law (McDonald, 1996). The example that Kierkegaard composes of is Abraham’s readiness to sacrifice his son, Isaac, a readiness that required that he suspend his ethical responsibilities in support of the telos provided by God. Kierkegaard claims that the pull between ethics and religion grounds Abraham anxiety. Kierkegaard claims that his retellings of the story of Abraham show the importance of a “teleological suspension of the ethical.” Teleological in this case means “in regard to the end.”

Kierkegaard makes the following note, again distinguishing Abraham: While the logical tragic hero becomes memorable before he dies, the tragic hero, who sees the meaning of life lies in his deed or action that belongs to the external world, becomes well-known after his death.  Abraham's distress lies in the stillness.

Later in after Works of Love, Kierkegaard continues to say that Abraham offered the lamb and went home with Isaac whom he kept. But, said Abraham to himself, with this story I have forever been made varied with what it means to be a human being.


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