“Teleological Suspension of the Ethical”
Abraham is a man of faith. He is a crucial and central figure in three of the major religions, Islam, Judaism and Christianity. From Abraham arises the issue of whether or not it is possible to have a “teleological suspension of the ethical.” In the biblical story, Abraham is required by God to sacrifice his son (Issac) as a sign of his faith to God. This is where the conflict resides, as in what is universally good (not killing your own child) is abandoned by the religion or rather the God that provides it with meaning and purpose in the first place.
In this situation, God requires a sign from Abraham that he is faithful to him. That is God's purpose in asking this of Abraham. The ethical, which is far from being removed from Kierkegaard's equation, is just ‘suspended’ so that the purpose of God can be achieved.
However, there are a number of problems with this. The first I feel, is a distinction Kierkegaard makes between the `religious' and `morality'. The goodness of God can be questioned if a teleological suspension of what is morally good is needed in order to follow God’s will. Furthermore, if God's purpose involves the suspension of the universal good, then I feel his theories are wrong. Kierkegaard describes the ethical as an alignment with the universal good, but how can this be if that good can be suspended on account of a `higher good'? Here it seems that Kierkegaard suggests that there are two levels of good, and when considering the `religious' it is occasionally necessary to act in accordance with the higher good and disregard the good by which those living by the `ethical' live their lives. This lends itself to the conflict of which is the ‘highest or greatest good’.
Kierkegaard has stated that there are three stages to life: Aesthetic, Ethical and Religious. The Aesthetic life is withdrawing from others and only seeking pleasure in what int...