more from Søren Kierkegaard

Single Idea 7577

[catalogued under 28. God / A. Divine Nature / 6. Divine Morality / d. God decrees morality]

Full Idea

The story of Abraham (and Isaac) contains a teleological suspension of the ethical. ...In his action he overstepped the ethical altogether, and had a higher idea outside it, in relation to which he suspended it.


Abraham was willing to kill his son Isaac, in obedience to God. It is 'teleological' because it has a higher purpose.

Gist of Idea

Abraham was willing to suspend ethics, for a higher idea


Søren Kierkegaard (Fear and Trembling [1843], Prob I)

Book Reference

Kierkegaard,Søren: 'Fear and Trembling', ed/tr. Hannay,Alastair [Penguin 1985], p.88

A Reaction

My immediate response is to find this proposal very sinister. I can't remotely understand what Abraham's (or God's) 'higher' idea could be that could justify this crime. Maybe ethics is suspended if you are on the beach and a tidal wave arrives?