Wednesday, March 4, 2009


Now that I have finished reading Fear and Trembling, I realize that faith is far more complicated than that of what I have previously made it out to be.

Johannes de Silentio writes, “Either there is then a paradox, that the single individual as the particular stands in an absolute relation to the absolute, or Abraham is lost.” Abraham contradicted nothing; he questioned nothing and knew that the universal, i.e. the ethical, no longer constrained what he was about to do. He was being tested and it was not a matter of finding a way out, but finding himself, in world where language and reason were indecipherable utterances. Abraham remains silent, not because God commanded him to be silent, but because God has suspended the universal, God has stopped what he has established to govern the world. In essence God lifts Abraham out of the ethical, he makes him superior to language, making language a temptation; if Abraham speaks, he becomes part of the universal, and he saves his son and becomes a tragic hero. But he does not, he does not because it is not an option.

Two heroes emerge as Cameron has said the esthetic hero and the tragic hero; both of whom are hero’s, both of whom refrain from an action or pursue an action to save someone. Abraham is neither, he is neither because what he is doing, applies towards him and him alone. He does not try to save his son because saving his son requires him to break the suspension of the universal; it requires him to question what he is being asked to do, kill his son. In the ethical this is what it would consist of to save his son. Silence is a prerequisite to become the knight of faith; silence allows Abraham to become the single individual and be able to stand in absolute relation to the absolute.


  1. "secrecy and silence make for greatness in a person precisely because they are qualifications of inwadness" (pg 77). This quote fits well with what your saying Ryan. Nevertheless, I wonder about the significance of silence. What if God told Abraham to tell Issac of his intentions to sacrafice him to test Issac as well? Or does this take away from Abraham and his conviction somehow?

  2. I don't think you can make a what if statement about God.God does all things with perfect reason and therefore wouldn't have a "what if", it just is, and had to be the way God made it so. You can ask "what ifs" about Abraham and any person really but I don't think God would ever be subject to this in terms of faith.

    That being said, even if he had done that the whole story, and the implications of it, would be ruined. Imagine if your dad just told you one day that God asked him to kill you? I'm pretty sure this is what Attunement I was referring towards.

    Besides, God doesn't ask these things of just anyone. Abraham had immense faith, and because of this God puts his faith to the ultimate test. God would not ask someone who is not ready of the same thing, for they would certainly be unable to do so, and thus God wouldn't ask them of this. The impossible task was set upon Abraham, not for Abraham to bear it upon his son.

  3. I think the way Johannes makes faith out to be is that Abraham is the father of faith; in the sense that when he did this act of faith, faith came into existence or if this isn't faith it has always existed. I am not sure Johannes is saying that faith existed prior to Abraham's being tested.