What, according to Søren Kierkegaard in Fear and Trembling, is the difference between morality and faith?

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rrteacher | College Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

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The relationship drawn by Kierkegaard between morality, or ethical behavior, and faith is paradoxical and complex. On the one hand, he views questions of ethical behavior as universal, applying to all people. On the other, there are times when a person, out of faith, might violate accepted ethical behavior because of what Kierkegaard describes as the "teleological suspension of the ethical," where faith transcends the moral. The example that he gives in Fear and Trembling is that of Abraham, who was prepared to willingly engage in an unethical act (the sacrifice of his only son Isaac) because he was commanded by God. How could this behavior be understood? Kierkegaard argues that there are times when one's faith forces them to stand against the universal, not as one person (that would be sin) but as an instrument of God's will. Abraham was commanded directly by God, and so his faith in God (which was ultimately justified) dictated that he transcend universal ethics. 


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