Soren Kierkegaard is a 19th-century Danish philosopher is also considered the first Existentialist. He tried to reform Christianity by beautifying its core beliefs and proving them with logic and reason. He claims in his book Fear and Trembling (1843) that three stages occur in the life of a man: Aesthetic, Ethical, and Religious. He has proposed the theory of “Teleological Suspension of the Ethical”. It means that a man suspends his belief in ethical and retains his belief in religion. Kierkegaard claims that this suspension happens when a man knows that his belief in religion would cause no harm to the ethical.
Kierkegaard claims that three stages occur in the life of a man as mentioned in the above paragraph. The first stage is the Aesthetic. The man does what he likes to do and what gives him pleasure and satisfaction. It could be anything or any work. The second stage is the Ethical. Here the man tries to conform to social codes, laws, and beliefs and attempts to do the things that would make him an acceptable person of society. The final stage is the Religious (Shihadeh, Ayman. N.p). This stage makes him conscious of all three stages but loyal to the third one.
Teleological suspension of the ethical comes in the third stage. Kierkegaard tells four versions of the Abrahamic story of sacrificing his son Isaac. He considers one version the most reliable and the rest of his book discusses this version that Abraham led Isaac to altar despite knowing that it is unethical because he knew that all the ethics are taught and proposed by the God and that the promoter of ethics would never let them be undermined or broken. He knew that it is wrong, but he also knew that God would not allow anything wrong to happen, so he moved to the altar.
Kierkegaard's theory can be applied to modern situations in a way that the modern human being follows God's teaching having a belief that he would not allow anything wrong to happen. In fact, this belief is getting acceptance in modern society under the shade of existentialism (Ward, Keith. N.p). The modern human being looks tired with material progress, and now he/she trying to soothe his/her soul in religion. Now, people are installing e-books of religion to their laptops and other devices. But modern philosophers have made things so difficult and complex that on one hand the existence of God is challenged with harsh words and on the other hand the man attempts to get refuge in the Bible.
Teleological suspension of the ethical means that a person suspends his/her belief in the rules and laws of society in order to show allegiance to religion. This term originates from the story of Abraham who intended to kill his son Isaac despite knowing that it was unethical for the sake of God's will. Kierkegaard believes that he did so because he knew that it will not do any harm to ethics. This is a kind of belief in religion after purifying one's soul. This stage rare occurs in a person's life when religion wants him/her to sacrifice something precious. And it is usually followed by a mistake as an expiation. The modern society has the weakest belief in God and teleological belief in religion is almost absent. But if the society follows the Bible and its commandments believing that God would not allow anything wrong to prevail, the society might grow spiritually collectively.
Shihadeh, Ayman. The Teleological Ethics of Fakhr al-Din al-Razi. Vol. 64. Рипол Классик, 2006.
Ward, Keith. "Kant's teleological ethics." The Philosophical Quarterly (1950-) 21.85 (1971): 337-351.
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