"Kierkegaard: Fear and Trembling"
Kierkegaard: Fear and Trembling Preface Kierkegaard begins by remarking: Not only in the world of commerce but also in the world of ideas our age has arranged a regular clearance-sale. … every lecturer in philosophy, every tutor, student, …they are not content with doubting everything, they all go further. It might, possibly, be ill-timed and inopportune to ask them whither they are bound; but it is no doubt polite and modest to take it for granted that they have doubted everything—else it were a curious statement for them to make, that they were going further (41) The same holds with regard to faith: In our times, no one is content with faith, they all go further. The question as to whither they are proceeding may be a silly question; whereas it is, a sign of urbanity and culture to assume that every one has faith, to begin with, for else it were a curious statement for them to make, that they are proceeding further The questions is: What does it mean to go further than faith? Has one grasped it such that one can go further? In the old days faith was a project of a life time, “not a skill thought to be acquired in either days or weeks.” It began with the “fear and trembling” that disciplined one’s youth. (42) What exactly is faith? Is it a doctrine, a set of precepts that one can doubt? Is something subject to Descartes’s method of universal doubt? Are faith and doubt opposites? Kierkegaard questions this: He writes Claim: “Even if one were able to render the whole of the content of faith into conceptual form, it would not follow that one had grasped faith, grasped how one came to it, how it came to one” (43) Point: faith is something more than this content. What is it? Note: Aristotle: certain things are apprehensible only by character, character is like the “eye” of the soul to see them. The “evidence” for such things is only apparent only after one has developed the “eye” of the soul—that is, the appropriate character. Is faith like this? What do you think? Think of the claim that distinguishes Christianity: that of seeing the big in the little, of taking incarnation of the divine in the mundane as a feature of being qua being. How do we do this? How do we see God in the homeless, the poor, the prisoner, the naked, the hungry, the wretch on the cross asking God why he has abandoned him? What does it mean to doubt this evidence for Christianity? Another possibility: Faith is a state of being, a matter of how you conduct your life. It is, in Kierkegaard’s phrase, a “motion of existence,” a shape, a style, that characterizes the flow of a life giving it identity over time. The one having it is a Christian. This is his being, his identity over time. Descartes: the project of doubting everything. Can we apply it to faith? Can we doubt faith and then go further. But we forget that doubt was also regarded as a life time project by the ancient skeptics. It was a life practice, a spiritual discipline. Now it is just a fashion. What is the life practice, the attitude of faith? What is its relation to belief in a set of doctrines? What do you think? Attunement It is to answer these questions, that Kierkegaard turns to Abraham, the man “remembered as the Father of Faith (44) How does Abraham embody faith? How does he remain faithful in the trial God sets for him? To answer this, Kierkegaard quotes the Bible: “And God tempted Abraham and said unto him: take Isaac, thine only son, whom thou lovest and go to the land Moriah and sacrifice him there on a mountain which I shall show thee.” He then sketches out four possible scenarios of the event that do not result in faith. Each of them, in fact, can be regarded as a description of Abraham’s initial faith in God and then of his “going further” than faith. 1. Abraham tells Isaac what he has in mind, Isaac embraces Abraham’s knees, begging “for his young life.” Abraham, to save Isaac’s faith, declares, “Stupid boy, dost thou suppose that I am thy father? I am an idolater. Dost thou suppose that this is God’s bidding? No, it is my desire. Then Isaac trembled and cried out in his fear: "God in heaven, have pity on me, God of Abraham, show mercy to me, I have no father on earth, be thou then my father!" But Abraham said softly to himself : "Father in heaven, I thank thee. Better is it that he believes me inhuman than that he should lose his faith in thee." (45-6). The going beyond faith here is Abraham’s lying to preserve Isaac’s faith. 2. Abraham, having discovered the ram, sacrifices it and returns home. But the very thought that God had required this of him torments Abraham. He cannot forget it. In Kierkegaard’s words, “Then he beheld the ram God had chosen, and sacrificed him, and wended his way home. . . . From that day on Abraham grew old. He could not forget that God had required this of him. Isaac flourished as before; but Abraham's eye was darkened, he saw happiness no more” (46). The going beyond faith here is Abraham’s inability to believe in a God that would require this of him. 3. Abraham never brings himself to sacrifice Isaac. Rather, on the way to Moriah, “he threw himself upon his face, he prayed to God to forgive him his sin, that he had been willing to offer Isaac, that the father had forgotten his duty towards the son.” Here, the going beyond faith is the assertion that one’s duty towards one’s son is higher than faith. The conflict between faith, sin, and ethical obligation is caught by Kierkegaard’s remarking, “And yet oftener he rode on his lonely way, but Abraham found no rest. He could not grasp that it was a sin that he had wanted to sacrifice to God his most precious possession, him for whom he would most gladly have died many times. [How could it be a sin if God had commanded it?] But, if it was a sin, if he had not loved Isaac thus, then could he not grasp the possibility that he could be forgiven : for what sin more terrible?” More terrible, that is, from the ethical standpoint, where the ethical obligation is to protect one’s son. What do you think? Is Abraham’s act of attempting to kill his son a sin or not? What is the relation between sin and ethical obligation? 4. Kierkegaard has Isaac lose his faith: “They rode together in peace, Abraham and Isaac, until they came to Mount Moriah. And Abraham prepared everything for the sacrifice, calmly and mildly; but when his father turned aside in order to unsheath his knife, Isaac saw that Abraham's left hand was knit in despair and that a trembling shook his frame—but Abraham drew forth the knife. Then they returned home again, and Sarah hastened to meet them; but Isaac had lost his faith. Here, the going beyond faith consists in Abraham’s despair and Issac’s recognition of it. He could no longer believe in the “God of Abraham.” The question: why didn’t these happen. What prevented them? What is the attitude that excludes them? Speech in Praise of Abraham The hierarchy of greatness. Greatness through love no one shall be forgotten who was great in this world. But each hero was great in his own way, and each one was eminent in proportion to the great things he loved. For he who loved himself became great through himself, and he who loved others became great through his devotion, but he who loved God became greater than all of these. (50) Why are we great though the things we love? What does it mean to be great through the love of God? Greatness through expectancy One became great by expecting the possible; another, by expecting the eternal; but he who expected the impossible became greater than (ibid.). What does it mean to expect the impossible? Kierkegaard give us a clue when he says: For it is great to surrender one's hope, but greater still to abide by it steadfastly after having surrendered it; for it is great to seize hold of the eternal hope, but greater still to abide steadfastly by one's worldly hopes after having rendered them. Kierkegaard remarks One sort of faith rests on eternal life, the next world But Abraham had faith, and faith for this life. In his words: Had his faith only been for a future life it would have been easier to cast everything aside in order to hasten out of this world to which he did not belong. But Abraham’s faith was not of that kind, if there is such, for a faith like that is not really faith but only its remotest possibility, a faith like that has some inkling of its object at the very edge of the field of its vision but remains separated from it by a yawning abyss … But it was for this life that Abraham believed (54). He believed in God’s promise for this life. He did not doubt. He believed in the ridiculous (the absurd) (54). As such he is “the guiding star that saved the anguished” How? What does it mean to believe in the absurd, the ridiculous? Is Christianity a belief in the ridiculous? Is the incarnation, the presence of God in man ridiculous? Is it absurd to see the big in the little, to have the “faith of a mustard seed?” Claim: Had Abraham doubted, if before drawing the knife he had accidentally caught sight of the ram and God had allowed him to offer it in place of Isaac, ... he would have kept Isaac, and yet how changed. For His withdrawal would have been a flight, his deliverance an accident, his reward dishonor, his future damnation. This he would have bone witness, not to his faith or to God’s mercy, but to how dreadful was the journey to Moriah” (56) Why? Kierkegaard, Fear and Trembling (Penguin ed., pp. 57-82), Preamble Kierkegaard begins today’s reading by remarking that the proverb, “only the one who works gets the bread,” is not true in the outward world. In this world, “the experience is repeated that he too who does not work gets the bread, and that he who sleeps gets it more abundantly than the man who works. In the outward world everything is made payable to the bearer, ..and he who has the world's treasure, has it, however he got it (57) But the proverb is true in the world of Spirit: “here it does not rain both upon the just and upon the unjust, here the sun does not shine both upon the good and upon the evil, here it holds good that only he who works gets the bread, only he who was in anguish finds repose, only he who descends into the underworld rescues the beloved, only he who draws the knife gets Isaac” (57) Studies, as Simon Weil said, are an example of this. In some sense this is their appeal. They offer us an escape from the world’s contingency and injustice. Faith, Kierkegaard claims, is also an example of this: Suppose someone wanting to learn to dance were to say, "For centuries now one generation after another has been learning dance steps, it is high time I took advantage out of this and began straightway with a set of quadrilles" (75) This is ridiculous. But then why do we assume such an attitude with regard to faith? Without work, there is no faith. To believe that one can get faith without working for it and on it, Kierkegaard says, is to “introduce into the world of spirit the same law of indifference under which the external world sighs.” What does it mean to obtain faith by labor? What does it mean to rank it with the other items in the world of the Spirit? I cannot play the violin well without labor. I cannot read or write other languages without labor. I cannot think clearly in philosophy without labor. I cannot have developed the self-discipline to keep my body in shape, to keep myself from being unkind to others, to be always looking out to help them, etc., without labor, without a prolonged practice and attention to this. It is also the same with faith. This implies that faith is not some simple assent to a proposition: “I know that my redeemer lives.” But something more. It is not a naïve hope, but something more. It is a life-long discipline that involves passionate desire, in-finite, non-ending resignation that preserves this desire even when we know intellectually it cannot be fulfilled, and belief that in spite of this impossibility that it will be fulfilled Our ignorance of what faith is is shown by our attitude to the story of Abraham. We think we can know the story without any labor. We reduce it to a common place. “His greatness was that he so loved God that he was willing to offer him the best he had.” Kierkegaard introduces this point with the story of someone willing to imitate Abraham. A person hears the pastor preach on Abraham, the father of faith, who became such by his willingness to offer God the best he had, namely his son. He draws from it that, to have faith, he ought to imitate Abraham and offer him his best, i.e., his son. The preacher hears about his intention, comes to him, and says “O abominable man, dregs of society, what devil possessed you to want to murder your son?" (58). He gets warm in its preaching to the man and says to wife afterwards, "I am an orator. What I lacked was the occasion. When I talked about Abraham on Sunday I did not feel moved in the least." But when I thundered down on the man I spoke with “such verve and unction,” I realized my talents. Of course, the man he speaks to could have said to him, “That in fact is what you yourself preached on Sunday" (59). In other words, I am only carrying out what you told us to do. From this Kierkegaard draws two points: 1. “The comic contradiction in the behavior of the speaker is that he made Abraham something insignificant, and yet would forbid the other from acting in the same way.” (81) 2. To actually understand Abraham, to grasp the story, we have to be willing “to labor and be heavy laden” (58) One of the burdens we have to assume is the distinction between the ethical and the religious. As Kierkegaard writes: The ethical expression for what Abraham did is that he would murder Isaac; the religious expression is that he would sacrifice Isaac; but precisely in this contradiction consists the dread which can well make a man sleepless, and yet Abraham is not what he is without this dread (60). He spends the three and a half days on the road to Mount Moriah with it. The point is that the ethical is the public, the open to all. Ethical rules are universal rules. As such, they are public open to everyone. The religious standpoint puts one outside of (beyond) this. One has to resign one’s claims to this public world, to its intelligibility to enter the religious relation. One way of expressing this. Abraham must love Isaac. The love must be such that he could not “murder” Isaac. Yet he must give him up. This giving up must be serious. Now the person who does give up the thing he most desires is, according to Kierkegaard, the knight of infinite resignation. He gives as an example of such a knight, the lad who loves the princess. The love is impossible. The lad gives up the possibility without abandoning his love. He keeps it pure, translates it from the temporal to the eternal, making it independent of the circumstances. Two things characterize the knight: the first is concentration The knight will have the power to concentrate the whole content of life and the whole significance of reality in one single wish (72) This means “the knight will have the power to concentrate the whole result of the operations of thought in one act of consciousness” directed toward his desire (ibid.). Thus, the desire is sufficiently strong and focused to shape the very movement of his existence. The second is that when he sees that he cannot obtain his desire, the knight does not abandon it but rather translates it into the eternal, into the next world. The knight does not become other than he is. He retains his motion of existence, but without the hope of obtaining in this world his desire. In Kierkegaard’s words, the knight remembers everything, but precisely this remembrance is pain, and yet by the infinite resignation he is reconciled with existence. Love for that princess became for him the expression for an eternal love, assumed a religious character, was transfigured into a love for the Eternal Being, which did, to be sure, deny him the fulfillment of his love, yet reconciled him again [to his loss] by the eternal consciousness of its validity in the form of eternity, which no reality can take from him (72) An example of this is Dante’s love for Beatrice. Thus transformed, the love does not grow old. If ever the chance came, it would begin where it left off (74). Kierkegaard’s claim is that this holds not just for the love of a person, but for every other object of passionate attachment that determine the motion of one’s existence. Summing up, there are three necessary features that characterize the knight of infinite resignation: 1. The strength to concentrate the whole of one’s life content and the meaning of reality into a single wish. Lacking this, one spends one’s life running errands and never enters into the eternal (72) 2. The ability to translate the love into an expression of the eternal. To have a consciousness of one love’s validity in an eternal form that no reality can take from one. (72) Thus, the knight does not cancel his love, he keeps it, just as young as in the first instance; he never lets it go since he has made the movement of translating it into the eternal. What the princess does in time cannot disturb him (73) The validity of the love, of the fact that he loved her with all his heart, remains. 3. Passion: “This requires passion. Every movement of infinity occurs with passion. ... What we lack today is not reflection but passion.” (71n). For Kierkegaard, to be an individual, you must have passion. What makes individual is not the reflection on truths. To the point that you think a truth, you are identical to everyone who thinks this truth. Passion, however, which concerns you and your individual desire is one makes you individual. But you must be an individual to have a one to one relation. True love for an individual requires passion. So does the one to one relation of faith. To be a knight of infinite resignation is, however, not to be a knight of faith Beyond resignation, which makes the move of infinity, faith makes the movement of finitude. It believes that it will get back precisely what the knight of resignation has given up as impossible. Kierkegaard can make the movements of resignation, but not those of faith. He loved a girl, Regina, understood that their love was impossible, and thus refused to marry her. He then translated this love into the eternal. Had he had faith, however, he would have believed that in marrying her, they would be happy and thus would have married her. Kierkegaard writes: “Faith, having performed the movements of infinity, makes those of finitude” (67) Thus, Abraham both gave up Isaac on the road to Mount Moriah, and believed that he would get him back. He even believed that “God could give him a new Isaac, bring the sacrificial offer back to life. He believed on the strength of the absurd, for all human calculation had long since been suspended.” Why “absurd”--because first you must really engage in resignation. You must abandon the possibility of getting your heart’s desire in this world and translate it into the next. In Kierkegaard’s words, “The infinite resignation is the last stage prior to faith, so that one who has not made this movement has not faith; for only in the infinite resignation do I become clear to myself with respect to my eternal validity, and only then can there be any question of grasping existence by virtue of faith [as opposed to calculation]” (75). What is this eternal validity? It is the validity of one’s motion of existence, of one’s existence shaped by one desire. Faith is the faith that this existence has a claim on God, that God will honor this claim. He will bring it from the eternal to the temporal, from the infinite to the finite. “Through faith Abraham did not renounce his claim on Isaac, rather through faith he received Isaac” (77) Here, “to get the princess, to live with her joyfully and happily day in and day out … every instant by virtue of the absurd, every instant to see the sword hanging over the head of the beloved, and yet not to find repose in the pain of resignation, but joy by virtue of the absurd” is faith. For faith, existence is a miracle. One lives it joyfully. It is pure gift. Fear and Trembling, Problemata I The problem: that of the relation of faith to ethics. Kierkegaard begins with the notion of the ethical as the universal. The classic Kantian expression of this involves the categorical imperative. The formula of this is: “I ought never to act except in such a way that I can also will that my maxim should become a universal law” (Kant 1964, p. 70; Akadamie ed., IV, 402). To apply it is to see if your maxim could “become through your will a universal law of nature” (ibid., p. 89; IV, 421). We do so when we universalize our maxim—i.e., attempt to see what would happen if everyone adopted it. Suppose, for example, your maxim is that a person can make false promises to get out of a difficulty. Imagining this to be a universal law, you see at once that such promises would never be believed. The maxim cannot be universalized without making promises impossible (ibid., p. 90; IV, 422). If we accept this doctrine, then with Kierkegaard we assert that “the ethical is the universal” (83). So defined, the ethical is the opposite of the private. As the universal, the ethical has the same relation to everyone. It is public, open to all. “It is,” in Kierkegaard’s words, “the manifest, the revealed” . To express the ethical is, then, to leave behind all strictly private motivations. It is to regulate one’s conduct according to rules that apply to everyone, rules that by definition have a universal, public intelligibility. Faith, according to Kierkegaard, involves the suspension of the ethical: “Faith is just this paradox that the single individual is higher than the universal” (84). This means that “the single individual … by means of the universal becomes that individual who as the particular stands in an absolute relation to the absolute (85). Example: Abraham Isaac represents Abraham's ethical duty. He writes: “Abraham’s relation to Isaac, ethically speaking, is quite simply expressed by saying that a father shall love his son more dearly than himself” (86) In Abraham's case, however, this very obligation expresses a temptation. In Kierkegaard’s words, “What ordinarily tempts a man is that which would keep him from doing his duty, but in this case, the temptation is itself the ethical ... which would keep him from doing God’s will” (p. 88). The paradox of faith is that it suspends the ethical. In his words, “If faith does not make it a holy act to be willing to murder one’s son, then let the same condemnation be pronounced upon Abraham as upon every other man.” The demand that God places on him suspends the ethical. If the ethical relation is that of one to all, i.e., of one and the same rule of conduct applying to all, the relation that Abraham has to God is one-to-one. It is a nonqualified, “absolute” relation, one in which the “particular” person “stands in an absolute relation to the absolute”). In other words, everything else falls away. There is only Abraham and God. They alone determine their relationship. The “paradox of faith,” as Kierkegaard calls it, is that this relation is “higher” than the ethical (which it suspends). Through faith, Kierkegaard writes, “the individual determines his relation to the universal [or the ethical] by his relation to the absolute [or God], not his relation to the absolute by his relation to the universal” Thus, through faith, “the ethical relation is reduced to a relative position in contrast with the absolute relation to God” (p. 81). Note: this is the opposite of Kant’s position, which is that the relation to God is reduced to a relative position with relation to the ethical relation. In Kant’s words, “Even the Holy One of the Gospel must first be compared with our ideal of moral perfection before he is recognized as such.” (Groundwork for the Metaphysics of Morals, p. 76). In other words, first we have the ideal, the universal idea of “moral perfection” that applies to everyone, then we compare the instance (i.e., Jesus) with it. Then we recognize him as corresponding to it such that we can recognize him as “the holy one of Isreal.” For Kierkegaard, however, faced with God’s command, I obey it rather than the ethical law. Of course, to actually experience this command as directed just to myself, I have to believe that I can have this one-to-one relation with God. If I do not, then I remain on the level of ethics and its universal laws. Such laws, as rationally intelligible, do not require “faith.” “Faith,” according to Kierkegaard, is this absolute, one-to-one relation. In his words, “Either the individual as the individual is able to stand in an absolute relation to the absolute (and then the ethical is not the highest) or Abraham is lost ...” He is lost because he then stands convicted of violating his ethical duty. He becomes the ethical monster who wanted to kill his child. In Kierkegaard’s words, “For when faith is eliminated by becoming null or nothing, then there only remains the crude fact that Abraham wanted to murder Isaac” Thus, for Kierkegaard, “The ethical expression for what Abraham did is that he would murder Isaac; the religious expression is that he would sacrifice Isaac.” The “contradiction” between the two is such that neither side is intelligible to the other. There is no “mediation” as Kierkegaard keeps repeating. There is no concept that would bridge the difference between the two interpretations: Abraham is a murderer. Abraham is sacrificing Isaac to God. This lack of mediation is shown when we compare Abraham to the tragic hero. Agamemnon's sacrifice of Iphegenia for fair winds When the Greek fleet was unable to set sail from Aulis because of an adverse wind the seer Calchas announced that King Agamemnon had offended Artemis and that the goddess demanded his daughter Iphigenia as a sacrifice of expiation When an undertaking in which a whole nation is concerned is hindered,43 when such an enterprise is brought to a standstill by the disfavor of heaven, when the angry deity sends a calm which mocks all efforts, when the seer performs his heavy task and proclaims that the deity demands a young maiden as a sacrifice– then will the father heroically make the sacrifice. Soon the entire population will be privy to his pain, but also to his deed, to the fact that for the well being of the whole he was willing to sacrifice the girl. Point. He is intelligible to all. He never leads the ethical. He suspends one version of it for a higher version Brutus’ ordering the execution of his sons: The sons of Brutus, while their father was Consul, took part in a conspiracy to restore the king Rome has expelled, and Brutus ordered them put to death When a son is forgetful of his duty,46 when the state entrusts the father with the sword of justice, when the laws require punishment at the hand of the father, then will the father heroically forget that the guilty one is his son, he will magnanimously conceal his pain, but there will not be a single one among the people, not even the son, who will not admire the father, and whenever the law of Rome is interpreted, it will be remembered that many interpreted it more learnedly, but none so gloriously as Brutus. Point: The tragic hero stays within the ethical. He lets a suspension of the ethical have its telos (its raison d’être) in a higher expression of the ethical. The parallel case of Mary. The angel appears to no one else. How does she explain her self? Kierkegaard writes: Who was ever so great as that blessed woman, the Mother of God, the Virgin Mary? And yet how do we speak of her? We say that she was highly favored among women. But if that all there is to her, every young girl might well ask, "Why was not I too the highly favored?" They forget that the angel of the annunciation only to spoke to her. He not say “to the other young maidens of Israel, "Despise not Mary. What befalls her is the extraordinary." But the Angel came only to Mary, and no one could understand her. Think of trying to tell other people that you are pregnant with God. The human understanding of your condition is that you are an unwed mother, your child will be illegitimate. You are, in the context of the Middle East of the time, in sin. The penalty for this is being stoned to death. The divine understanding is that you are the most favored among woman. How do we mediate this? The parallel case of Christ. How does he explain himself? According to the law, having made himself equal to God, he ought to be killed. According to faith he is God’s incarnation. How do we mediate between these two views? As Kierkegaard remarks, One is deeply moved, one longs to be back in those beautiful times, a sweet yearning conducts one to the desired goal, to see Christ wandering in the promised land. One forgets the dread, the distress, the paradox. Was it so easy a matter not to be mistaken? Was it not dreadful that this man who walks among the others–was it not dreadful that He was God? Was it not dreadful to sit at table with Him? Which view should you take as you sit at the table as an Apostle eating with him? It this the author of the universe or is this the carpenter Joseph’s son, who brothers and sisters you know from Nazareth? His home town people were so shocked at his claims that they wanted to kill him after he returned home and read in their Synagogue. In Luke we read, When they heard this, all the people in the synagogue were filled with rage. They got up, forced him out of the town, and brought him to the brow of the hill on which their town was built, so that they could throw him down the cliff (4:28-9) His brothers (“who did not believe in him”) attempted to get him to go up to Jerusalem “before his time” in the hope that he would be killed (John 7:1-10). Others fell down and worshiped him. Who is right? Can we mediate these views? What would be the common concept that would link God and man? Kierkegaard, Fear and Trembling (Penguin ed., pp. 96-108, Problema II The question: Is there an absolute duty to God? Not if God is understood in an altogether abstract sense as the divine: i.e., the universal, i.e., duty. What I have is a tautology I have a duty to duty. The whole of human existence is in that case entirely self enclosed ... and the ethical is at once the limit and completion. God becomes invisible. (96) Why? I do not have a one to one relation to him. Such a God (as duty) says: “Stay where you belong. I don’t ask for your love.” This is how Kierkegaard puts it: Thus it is a duty to love one's neighbor, but in performing this duty I do not come into relation with God but with the neighbor whom I love. If I say then in this connection that it is my duty to love God, I am really uttering only a tautology, inasmuch as "God" is in this instance used in an entirely abstract sense as the divine, i.e. the universal, i.e. duty. (96). Thus, if God is duty, the tautology is “I have duty to love duty.” The question, however, is whether in performing the duty to love my neighbor “I do not come into relation with God but with the neighbor whom I love.” This may be true from a Kantian perspective, but not from a Christian. The parable of the return of Christ makes this clear: God is present in the widow and the orphan, whenever we did something for these, we did it for God. For Levinas, the one to one relation to God is through the one to one relation to the widow or the orphan. One witnesses to God in caring for them. This is a bearing witness in the sense of witnessing (seeing God) in the poor. The testimony is in one’s actions in aiding the poor. For Kierkegaard, however, the ethical is not this one to one relation to the poor and the orphan, but rather the universal. Following Kant and Hegel, he sees the demand of the ethical as that of getting rid of one’s interiority. In Kierkegaard’s words, In the ethical way of regarding life it is therefore the task of the individual to divest himself of the inward determinants and express them in an outward way. Whenever he shrinks from this, whenever he is inclined to persist in or to slip back again into the inward determinants of feeling, mood, etc., he sins, he is in a temptation (Anfechtung). (97) This is because, for Kant, the ethical implies the categorical imperative, which is to act simply for the sake of the action itself, without regard to feeling, mood. One sole motivation has to be the rightness of the act itself. So, in asking what would happen if everyone acted the way I propose to do, I necessarily abstract from my feelings, my mood, which others would not share. I consider the action apart from my particular circumstances, in fact, apart from any particular motivating circumstances. In Kierkegaard’s terms, I empty myself of my interiority. But this is the opposite of faith according to Kierkegaard: Faith, on the contrary, is the paradox that interiority is higher than exteriority (97) As he also puts this: “the paradox of faith is this: that there is an interiority that is incommensurable with the exterior” --- this is a new interiority (not that of feeling, mood, idiosyncrasy, hysteria) (97) What is this? One gives up the first sort of interiority (passing through the ethical) for a second type. One where one has a one to one relation to God. In Kierkegaard’s words, The paradox of faith is this, that the individual is higher than the universal, that the individual (to recall a dogmatic distinction now rather seldom heard) determines his relation to the universal by his relation to the absolute, not his relation to the absolute by his relation to the universal. The paradox can also be expressed by saying that there is an absolute duty toward God; for in this relationship of duty the individual as an individual stands related absolutely to the absolute. One has an absolute duty to God, for in this tie of obligation the individual relates himself absolutely, as the single individual to the absolute. (98) Here the duty to love God is not a duty to love duty (understood as the universal). It is a one to one relation. Think of Moses in the desert when he first encounter’s God, or Jacob when he wrestles with God, or Abraham when he separates himself from his people, or David when he is persecuted by Saul. In each cases, the encounter with God occurs outside of the earthly economy, outside of its ties. The important point for Kierkegaard is that one reaches this one to one relation in passing through the ethical. One first has to be the knight of infinite resignation, that is, strip oneself of one’s claims to the earthly economy, to then have a new interiority in which one relates one to one with God. Thus, one does strip oneself of one’s earthly motivations, as with Kant, but not for the sake of a universal duty, but for the sake of a one to one relation with God. One acts entirely for his sake, not for the sake of any goods you might receive from this relation. He, in turn, acts entirely for your sake, not for any goods, he might receive for you. Levinas, however, would claim that such a relation can only be enacted with the widow and the orphan. They are the presence in the earthly economy of the God who is outside of the earthly economy. Faith is the ability to see God in them. Kierkegaard, however, does not take this step. What he focuses on is the inability of the knight of faith to make himself intelligible to others Kierkegaard writes, “The ethical expression for what Abraham did is that he would murder Isaac; the religious expression is that he would sacrifice Isaac” The “contradiction” between the two is such that neither side is intelligible to the other. How can faith explain itself to the ethical? The ethical is the universal. The universal is the realm of the conceptualization that underlies the ability of language to communicate through common (or universal) meanings. To leave the universal is thus to leave the possibility of communicative speech behind. It is to give up the possibility of being intelligible to others. The result is that “Abraham ... cannot speak. Therein,” according to Kierkegaard, “lies the distress and anguish. For if, when I speak, I am unable to make myself intelligible, then I am not speaking.” Abraham can speak about everything except the most important thing. As Kierkegaard observes, “The relief of speech is that it translates me into the universal”—but this translation is impossible with regard to Abraham’s relation to God The relation and the “test” it embodies is on the other side of every act of conceptualization, every attempt of reason to explain it. The absence of partnership in the knight of faith. The true knight of faith is always [in] absolute isolation, the false knight is sectarian. (106) The false knight always has “his private theater, several good friends and companions who represent the universal. (106) The knight of faith “is the paradox, he is the individual, absolutely nothing but the individual, without connections and complications.” He “walks alone with his dreadful responsibility” (107). Claim: “Someone who believes it is a simple enough matter to be the individual can always be certain that he is not the knight of faith” (103) Why? What does it mean to be an individual? Kierkegaard: “to exist as the individual is the most terrifying thing of all.” (102) How many of your ideas are your own? How many are just picked up from others without any examination. How many of your conceptions are based on your own experience, how many just picked up from television, the internet, friends, the newspapers, etc. What sort of passion do you invest them with. Do you have simply an intellectual relation to them or one of passion, a passion that shapes the very motion of existence that you are? Kierkegaard writes, referring to Abraham “So the knight of faith has first and foremost the requisite passion to concentrate upon a single factor the whole of the ethical which he transgresses, so that he can give himself the assurance that he really loves Isaac with his whole soul.” To be an individual is to passionately embrace the ethical that one gives up, offers, to God. This is how Kierkegaard reads Luke’s account of Jesus’ saying: “If any man come to me, and hate not his father and mother and wife and children and brethren and sisters, yes, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple” (99) How do we interpret the words “hate not” “love less”, show less respect for, etc. No. On the one hand, he must love these, on the other hand he must sacrifice these, but he must in faith believe that they will be returned. “When God asks for Isaac, Abraham must if possible love him even more, and only then can he sacrifice him; for it is indeed this love of Isaac that is in its paradoxical opposition to his love of God makes his act a sacrifice.” (101). The comparison with the knight of faith. The tragic hero renounces what he wishes in order to accomplish his duty. Agamemnon may say “my duty to Iphigenia is my only wish.” But then the god’s command comes and he must give her up in terms of a higher duty For the knight of faith, wish and duty are also identical, but the knight of faith is required to give up both. (There is no higher universal for him). So Jesus command, hate everything--enter into a one to one relation with me apart from everything. But believe that it will all be restored. Cf. the restoration of Job’s property. What is the difference between having it beforehand and having it restored? Everything is now a gift from God. Everything is seen in terms of the original creation from nothing. Kierkegaard, Fear and Trembling, Problema III Was Abraham ethically defensible in keeping silent about his purpose before Sarah, before Eleazar, before Isaac? The issue concerns the concealment of Abraham: What is the nature of his silence? Why didn't he speak to Sarah, to Eleazar (his servant), or to Isaac, his son? Kierkegaard begins by summarizing his position: 1. “The ethical is as such the universal.” Kant's expression of this: act such that the maxim of your action can be taken as a universal law 2. “The universal is, in turn, the disclosed.” What is universal is there for everyone, it is public. The public character of language Since language is their for communication, there is no private language I cannot see out of your eyes, you cannot see out of mine. Language does not name our subjective sensations, it names what we have sensations of, the objects out there. The word re-presents these objects to all of us. It stands in the place of our private experiences as something we can all share. 3. “The individual, by contrast, is the concealed.” I cannot speak what is unique to me. Levinas and the notion of interiorization: The uniqueness of one’s organic being: no one can eat, sleep, etc., for you Sensation, before one takes it as the sensation of something external is unique, a function of your bodily being The taste of a peach dissolving in your mouth is not shareable, not communicable. No more than odors. We can only communicate the names of the objects they are of, not the sensations of them Thus, embodiment signifies an interiority on the sensate level that cannot be shared, that is concealed. This is why Kierkegaard says: ‘Seen as an immediate, no more than sensate, psychic being, the individual is concealed’ (109). 4. The ethical task of the individual is "to unwrap himself from this concealment and become disclosed in the universal." This is because ethics is public, it is the way we regulate our conduct with each other. But Abraham does conceal himself. What is the nature of his concealment? In today’s reading, Kierkegaard attempts to distinguish Abraham’s concealment from that of the aesthetic—the concealment that comes into play in drama. He begins with Aristotle’s assertion that drama consists of two essential moments recognition and reversal. The prime example of this for Aristotle is the play, Oedipus Rex. When Oedipus recognizes who he is, the murderer of his father, the husband of his mother and the brother of his children, his fate suffers a reversal. His being revealed in his individual being is one with his public destruction. For the ancients, individuality, which cannot be defined is at risk in its public disclosure. This happens the higher man climbs in public office. This can bring tragedy. Thus, the chorus in Greek tragedy, which consists of private citizens, witnesses but does not participate in this tragedy. For Oedipus, his public exposure was fated. But as Kierkegaard says, “Modern drama has given up fate …Concealment and revelation are then the hero's free act for which he is responsible (111) Kierkegaard’s interest is what such modern concealment and revelation imply. He writes: "Whenever there is a question of recognition there is a question of prior concealment" (110) He writes that “aesthetics” offer us a number of examples against which we can set Abraham's concealment. Comic: the man with the wig and make up--who dons it to attract the fair sex. He succeeds, but then how does he enjoy the conquest? (111-12). Tragic: Oedipus makes things manifest, by discovering who the murderer of his father is: namely himself. This recognition of who he is leads to his destruction. As these examples indicate, the aesthetic works by playing being between the private and the public, the individual and the universal. Kierkegaard gives yet another example: A girl secretly in love is being forced to marry someone by her parents. "She hides her love so as not to make others unhappy" A "young lad is in a position just by dropping one word, to possess the object of his craving. But that little word will compromise, even who knows ruin an entire family. He nobly chooses to stay in concealment" Ethics would say: “tell the truth.” Aesthetics (especially in romantic comedies) makes arrangements: by “coincidence, the respective partners in the projected marriage get wind of the other party's noble decision. Explanations follow." Everyone lives happily ever after. Ethics would turn this into a tragedy. Ethics has no happy coincidences (112-113). "Aesthetics required disclosure [for its plot to resolve itself] but availed itself of a coincidence [for disclosure to come about]; ethics required disclosure and found satisfaction in the tragic hero" (114). “The tragic hero demonstrates exactly this ethical courage by not being captive to the aesthetic illusion” (ibid.). The issue is: how do these forms of concealment differ from the case of Abraham? Rather than answering, Kierkegaard gives us some more examples: He cites the case of “the bridegroom, [who] when the augurs foretell to him that a misfortune would follow his marriage, suddenly changes his plan at the decisive moment when he comes to fetch the bride.” At the last moment, he decides not to celebrate the wedding. Kierkegaard considers three possible scenarios: 1. He remains silent and gets married Kierkegaard writes, “in doing this he has insulted the girl. He has in a way made the girl guilty by his silence, for in case she had known the truth she never would have consented to such a union.” 2. He remains silent and does not get married Kierkegaard writes, “In this case he must embroil himself in a mystification by which he reduces himself to naught in relation to her.” 3. He tells the girl the reason for his not marrying her Here, he follows the ethical. As Kierkegaard puts this, “Ethics, however, will require him to speak. His heroism then is essentially to be found in the fact that he gives up aesthetic magnanimity” of not speaking out (118) Kierkegaard then turns to the example of the merman. The merman wants to seduce the girl, but is in turn seduced by her innocence. The sea that had been raging with his passion, now turns calm. Instead of dragging her down to the sea, "he leads her home again, he explains to here that he only wanted to show her how beautiful the sea is when it is calm (120). But now what is he to do? She loves him. Is he to tell her who and what he is? Disclose himself? Kierkegaard writes: “If repentance alone takes possession of him, then he is hidden; if Agnete and repentance take possession of him, then he is revealed. Now in case repentance grips the merman and he remains concealed, he has clearly made Agnete unhappy, for Agnete loved him in all her innocence.” Faced with her unhappiness, which is matched by his own, he can take the demonic option: He knows that Agnete loves him. If he can only tear this love away from her she will in a way be saved. A candid confession will not do it. She will not believe that he remains a seducer, is incapable of the love she is worthy of. In the demonic option, Kierkegaard writes, “he … makes still another attempt to save Agnete, in such a way as one can, in a certain sense, save a person by means of the evil. He knows that Agnete loves him. If he could wrest from Agnete this love, then in a way she is saved. But how? The merman has too much sense to depend upon the notion that an open-hearted confession would awaken her disgust. He will therefore try perhaps to incite in her all dark passions, will scorn her, mock her, hold up her love to ridicule, if possible he will stir up her pride” (122). Here, there is a close similarity to Abraham. As Kierkegaard puts this, “By means of the demonic, the merman would aspire to be the single individual who as the particular is higher than the universal. Thus demonic has that same property as the divine in that the individual can enter into an absolute relation with it” (123) Thus, just as Abraham transcends the ethical in his relation to Issac by an absolute relation to God, so the merman transcends the ethical in his relation to the girl by absolute relation demonic. This raises several questions: Is pure evil similar to faith in its unintelligibility? How would we distinguish the absolute relation with the demonic from the absolute relation with God? At issue is the self-concealment of evil. If being, unity, goodness, truth, and intelligibility are all equivalent predicates so that we can say that every thing that exists is one, good, true (in the sense of being like its archetype) and intelligible, then evil is simply a privation. It lacks truth, intelligibility, etc. But then it conceals itself. We cannot grasp it. Like faith, it is also outside the speakable, the universal. How do we distinguish the unspeakability of evil from that of faith? Kierkegaard does not face this issue. He distinguishes the merman from Abraham by asserting that the merman can speak. “He can disclose himself and be the tragic hero.” “He will then be able to wrest from his mind every self-deceit about his being able to make Agnete happy by his trick, he will have courage, humanly speaking, to crush Agnate” by telling her the truth about himself (123). There is, however, another possibility. So far, we have considered repentance without Agnete. This is also, however, repentance with Agnate. Here, the merman tells her everything; Agnate accepts him; he marries her. Here, according to Kierkegaard, “he must have recourse to the paradox. For when the individual by his guilt has gone outside the universal he can return to it only by virtue of having come as the individual into an absolute relationship with the absolute.” In this possibility, the merman returns to the universal, that is becomes ethical, in an absolute relation that restores his nature, that gives him the condition for being ethical. Somehow, the one to one relation to Agnete transforms him from being a seducer to being a faithful person. Kierkegaard writes, “It is precisely through the paradox that the merman comes to the point of realizing the universal. … If he becomes revealed and allows himself to be saved by Agnete, then he is the greatest man I can picture to myself … So the merman cannot belong to Agnete unless, after having made the infinite movement, the movement of repentance, he makes still one more movement by virtue of the absurd” (125). So by faith he does get Agnete. But still the way to this was through the universal, through disclosing himself to her as a seducer. Here, Kierkegaard makes some interesting remarks about sin “By sin the individual is already higher (in the direction of the demoniacal paradox) than the universal, because it is a contradiction on the part of the universal to impose itself upon a man who lacks the conditio sine qua non [the condition for being ethical]. ... An ethics which disregards sin is a perfectly idle science; but if it asserts sin, it is eo ipso well beyond itself” (124). In other words, if one is in sin, then one lacks the condition for receiving the universal. Sin is not an error in judgment. It is a condition of the person. Ethics has no categories for the conditions of individuals. It speaks to impersonal reason on the level of the universal. It does not call for repentance, but simply an insight into the universal. It calls on us to ask, “what would happen if everyone acted in a specific way?” It assumes that once we know the truth, we will act on it, since it assumes that essentially we are rational agents. Kierkegaard, however, writes, “As soon as sin makes its appearance ethics comes to grief precisely upon repentance; for repentance is the highest ethical expression, but precisely as such it is the deepest ethical self-contradiction” (ibid.). It is a contradiction since the conception of our being in focus us on our own private condition. The realm of sin is that of inwardness. It is the unspeakable interiority that I mentioned at the beginning of the lecture. The conception of sin thus moves us outside of the universal to the particular, but for the sake of expressing the ethical. The call is for our particular interior, private condition to be restored so that we can be in a position to will the universal, the ethical. This is what happens to the merman. He recognizes his sin and this sin (this inability to follow the ethical) is removed by Agnete, by the absolute relation to her. Here, the absolute relation restores the ethical. Here, once again, however, we do not capture Abraham. He is not in the condition of sin. Unlike the Merman, he really has no way back to the universal Kierkegaard, Fear and Trembling, (Penguin ed., pp. 127-149), Problema III, Epilogue Review: The question: how do you distinguish the silence of Abraham from that of the hero in a drama? The deeper issue: the role of concealment in human subjectivity In what sense is the unspeakable, the non-discloseable, part of human selfhood (such that disclosure would undo it). In what sense is the non-discloseable part of human relations? How far is hiddenness required for their functioning? How is this human need for concealment and non-discloseablity distinct from Abraham’s situation? Can human selfhood endure disclosure? In Socrates account of the soul’s entry into the underworld in the Phaedo, the soul appears naked. Everything in it lies exposed to judgment. Is such a thought really conceivable? Can we see an object from all possible perspectives without exploding our consciousness? Our consciousness is consciousness from a perspective. It has a foreground and a background. This is part of its structure. Centered around my here and now, it is the vision of the world from one point of view with a foreground extending from this point of view into the background. To abandon this structure is to explode consciousness. Similarly, viewing consciousness from all sides at once—ignoring its foreground- background structure—does not grasp it as it is in itself. It conceals it. It conceals it because it conceals the concealment that lies inherent in the notion of consciousness. The background is necessarily less clear than the foreground. In a certain sense, the background is concealed by the foreground. There is also the concealment in our selfhood brought on by human freedom. Everything I see someone else doing becomes, as human, one of my possibilities. It becomes one of the options of my freedom, that is, something that given the means, circumstances and motivations, I could do. Thus, the fact that I do not do it may not indicate that I could not do it, but only that I choose not to do it. Given my finitude, such multiple possibilities of being and behaving exceed what I can manifest. Thus, I do not show others all that I am capable of. You cannot predict what I can do from my past behavior. The point is that my freedom, as measured by what I am capable of, is essentially concealed. The only way to make freedom in its content open to others would be to limit it by limiting my contact with others and their possibilities. This would limit the alternative ways of being and behaving that would, as I encountered them, enrich the content (the options) of my own freedom. This limitation is the point of the limitations on the press, on speech, association and assembly enacted by dictatorships. Their point is have a citizenry that thinks, acts and discloses the world according to a limited number of state approved projects. So disclosed, this world cannot offer any evidence running counter to the claims of the state. Freedom in such a world operates within a limited set of options, each of which, when enacted, confirms the others in disclosing a single state approved reality, one with no evident alternatives. If we want to avoid this, then we must face the necessity of our concealment. This necessity of concealment affects our relations with each other. Such relations are marked by respecting the privacy of others. There is a certain recognition of inviolability of the interiority of the other. We can only enter this as guests, with permission. It is up to the other how much he chooses to reveal. But he cannot reveal all he is capable of since this, as coming from what he has received from others, exceeds his finite capabilities for disclosure through acting. Given that the ethical is the universal, the public, the unconcealed, how does it deal with these facts of human nature? Ethics (in its Kantian version) transcends the foreground background structure of human consciousness by proceeding on the level of conceptualization. In the realm of pure ideas, there is no foreground background. There are only conceptual relations between ideas. You ask what would happen if everyone did something—e.g., lied—and see the contradiction between the idea of your lying and everyone lying. You realize your lie would not be believed. But this procedure, which remains on the level of pure conceptualization, obviously only captures a part of human reality. This is where aesthetics comes in by playing off the private and the public. Its problem is: when should we conceal, when should we reveal? For Kierkegaard, the figure of Faust, whom he has transformed into a Cartesian doubter, exemplifies this problem. The original lines of Goethe’s Faust are: I have studied philosophy, law, medicine, even, unfortunately theology I have studied them all with burning effort And now here I am a poor fool, no wiser than before I have my master’s, my doctor’s degree, For ten years I have dragged my students by the nose [though all these subjects] And yet I see that we can, in fact, know nothing at all. The fact that we “can no nothing” makes Faust a skeptic. In Kierkegaard’s hands, he becomes a doubter. Faust, in Kierkegaard’s version could with his doubt do what Tamburlaine could do with his Huns--”frighten people out of their wits, make the world shake under their feet, send people scattering in every direction, and cause the cry of alarm to sound from every quarter” (133). Should he do this? Ethics demands that he not keep silent. But Faust has a sympathetic nature--he “sees that he would be unable to prevent the landslide doubt would set in motion” (133). What should he do? Speak or keep silent? If you were a Darwin, would you keep silent? If you had discovered that Christianity was false, that Jesus was a fraud, would you speak? If you discovered that some agreement holding French and English Canada together were based on a lie or were established through bribery, would you reveal this? Would you tell your partner that you had been unfaithful to him? How many things in interpersonal relations are based on secrets? How much do we take account of the limitations of others. Is this accidental or necessary? If necessary what does it show about our relations with others? About the nature of our own selfhood? Kierkegaard continues with his reworking of the Faust story Faust meets Marguerite--he could fall in love with her, “but he is a doubter, his doubt has destroyed reality for him” (134). He cannot believe in love, but he needs love, “He hungers for his daily slice of joy as for the nourishment of spirit.” Should he pursue Marguerite? Should he abandon the attempt to doubt? Is this possible? Faust does not think so. He “is silent, and talks to no one of his doubt, nor to Marguerite of his love” (134) He knows that his doubt would kill their love. It is not that he is capable of love, but never got the chance. Rather his sorrow is deeper. He lacks the condition for being in love, which is faith. Nothing he could do would give him this condition. The notion of lacking the condition for love appears in another story, this time from the Book of Tobit (or Tobias in the old testament). As Kierkegaard relates the story The young Tobias wanted to marry Sarah the daughter of Raguel and Edna. But a sad fatality hung over this young girl. She had been given to seven husbands, all of whom had perished in the bride-chamber (127). Kierkegaard’s focus is on Sarah. In his words, “she is the most unhappy maiden, for she knows that the evil demon who loves her will kill the bridegroom the night of the wedding.” She wants to marry but has not the condition. This, according to Kierkegaard, is a worst situation than not having the opportunity marry. In his words, “If life fails to bring a person what would make him happy, it is still a comfort that he could have received it. But the unfathomable sorrow which no time can disperse, no time heal, is to know that it would be no use even if life were to do everything!” (128) “It is hard enough that one should not find the one to whom one can devote oneself, but unspeakably hard to be unable to devote oneself” (because one lacks the condition) (ibid.). This lacking the condition can be the result of physical deformity. Kierkegaard, for example, was a hunchback, and believed that prevent him from loving or being loved. If he could believe in God, like Abraham did, then he could believe that he could love and be loved in spite of the objective impossibility of this. God would give him the condition. Thus, Kierkegaard writes with respect to Sarah’s hope that she still, with God’s help, would get a husband “For what love for God it takes to want to be healed when one has been crippled from the start for no fault of one’s own, an unsuccessful specimen of humanity from the beginning.” (129) The reference here is his own deformity. “A proud and noble nature can endure everything, but one thing it cannot endure, it cannot endure pity” “... to be singled out from his mother’s womb as an object of pity, a sweet fragrance in pity’s nostrils, that he cannot bear” (129). What do we do with people like this? K. brings up the example of Richard III, a hunchback and partially lame king that became a villain. Natures like his, he writes, “cannot really be saved by mediating them into an ideal of society. Ethics really only makes fun of them ... if it were to say ... ‘Why don’t you express the universal and get married?” (130) According to Kierkegaard, “such natures are aboriginally in the paradox”--that is, they are not translatable to the universal. They cannot really express their condition. The point is that the body is individual. It is not something sharable. It is incapable of being translated to the universal. This is part of the injustice of nature--that it produces healthy and deformed bodies. But the ethics that concentrates on the universal ignores this. Another way of putting this. Natures like those of Kierkegaard or Richard III are marked by the individual, untranslatable, unmediated character of existence. I cannot say to them act like everyone else--they have not the capacity. The point: existence (our individual thisness) is something beyond (on the other side of) universal definitions. It concerns not knowledge, but our condition as a knower, not action (like getting married or falling in love), but our ability to act This condition, insofar as it is part of our interiority—for example, the interiority that makes me incapable of believing in love—is not public. It is hidden. In some real sense, it is unspeakable insofar as it escapes the universal. In Kierkegaard’s words, Such natures as that of Gloucester one cannot save by mediating them into an idea of society. Ethics in fact only makes game of them, just as it would be a mockery of Sarah if ethics were to say to her, "Why dost thou not express the universal and get married?" Essentially such natures are in the paradox and are … either lost in the demoniacal paradox or saved in the divine. (130-31). How does all this relate to Abraham? Can we understand him in terms of the aesthetic playing off of the public against the private? Kierkegaard writes, “Aesthetics allowed, in fact, demanded silence of the individual when by remaining silent he could save another.” (136) So the young man, who by marrying the girl would bring out a secret that would ruin her family, must according to aesthetics keep silent. But Abraham’s “silence is not at all to save Isaac.” He acts for his own sake and for God’s sake. This is an “outrage” for aesthetics. “Aesthetics can well understand that I sacrifice myself, but not that I should sacrifice another for my own sake” (137). Furthermore, the aesthetic hero can speak and be intelligible to others. He chooses not to speak. But Abraham cannot speak and be intelligible to them. What would he say? Finally, for aesthetics, there is no move beyond the resignation involved in silence. For Abraham, there is the move (equally unspeakable) of faith. He says, “nevertheless it won’t happen, or if does the Lord will give me a new Isaac” (139). He continues to trust God. For him, existence is held as pure gift. The notion that God will provide the sacrifice points to this sense of the gift that comes after resignation, after giving up all calculation. Kierkegaard’s final point. The notion of going beyond is implicit in the notion of modernity, of progress. Can we apply this to everything? To faith? To love? Can one generation say to the previous one: we have gone beyond love? beyond faith? For Kierkegaard, faith and love are passions. These are not transferable. As pertaining to the self’s interiority, they are not capable of being passed on as already accomplished things. As Kierkegaard puts this: “The authentically human factor is passion, in which the one generation also fully understands the other and understands itself. Thus no generation has learned from another how to love, no generation can begin other than at the beginning” (145). Another cannot love for you. Another cannot have faith for you. This holds for all the passions and “the highest passion in a human being is faith, and here no generation begins other than where its predecessor did, every generation begins from the beginning” (ibid.). We are, he concludes, all in the position of Abraham as founders of faith. This “task is always enough for a human lifetime” (146). One “has one’s life in it.” It is like love--it is part of the uniqueness of our individual, untransferable existence (147).