What about Isaac?: Rereading fear and trembling and rethinking Kierkegaardian ethics

Journal of Religious Ethics 35 (2):319-345 (2007)

J. Aaron Simmons
Furman University
In this essay I offer a reading of "Fear and Trembling" that responds to critiques of Kierkegaardian ethics as being, as Brand Blanshard claims, "morally nihilistic," as Emmanuel Levinas contends, ethically violent, and, as Alasdair MacIntyre charges, simply irrational. I argue that by focusing on Isaac's singularity as the very condition for Abraham's "ordeal," the book presents a story about responsible subjectivity. Rather than standing in competition with the relation to God, the relation to other people is, thus, inscribed into this very relation. "Fear and Trembling", I contend, advocates a bidirectional responsibility that is constitutive of subjectivity itself and, as such, actually resonates with certain aspects of Levinasian ethics. I conclude by suggesting that Abraham's ordeal is not due to the conflict between a nonreligious duty and the duty to God, but instead reflects a tension that is internal to the life of faith itself.
Keywords singularity  Hegel  ordeal  ethics  Levinas  Kierkegaard
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DOI 10.1111/j.1467-9795.2007.00308.x
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References found in this work BETA

After Virtue: A Study in Moral Theory.Alasdair C. MacIntyre - 1983 - University of Notre Dame Press.
Hegel’s Ethical Thought.Allen W. Wood - 1990 - Cambridge University Press.

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Citations of this work BETA

Teleological Suspensions In Fear and Trembling.Kris McDaniel - forthcoming - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research.
The Paralyzing Instant.Jonathan Malesic - 2013 - Journal of Religious Ethics 41 (2):209-232.

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