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Lecture

PHIL 367 - Lecture (Mar. 14th)


Department
Philosophy
Course Code
PHIL 367
Professor
Susan Judith Hoffmann

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Mar. 14th
For Hegel, language, if it is simply private opinion, then it is random, idiosyncratic,
not really evolved.
Language fully comes into its own is language when it is universal and public, when
it articulates universal concepts, when it reveals reality in an objective manner.
Kierkegaard is critical of this (and Nietzsche as well.)
Kierkegaard does not suggest that Abraham disregard the universal completely.
Abraham was in the universal (not a moral nihilist.)
Abraham = the absolute who stands in absolute relation with the absolute. This is
an absolute relation because it is not a mediated relation, it is immediate. This
means that he stands before his God in a way that is not mediated by the universal.
This relation is not one that can be grasped conceptually, grasped by, say, ethics.
His divine commands is not one that can be grasped conceptually either.
In his view, the absolute relation established transcends even beyond divine
command ethics.
This is an attempt to contrast Hegel's account, which sees the human relation as
mediated with God.
For Hegel, everything is ultimately mediated. Nothing is immediate except the
beginning of phenomenology, but even that is an opposition. Everything is
mediated by the knitting of conceptual oppositions into syntheses and higher
unities, and every opposition is a mere illusion that can be sublated in a higher
unity. Therefore, in Hegel I become free not by asserting myself against otherness,
but by recognizing that I am a true self when I am being independent and self-
determining, which means that I do not depend on anything external to myself
because I recognize that all otherness is actually me, that there is nothing outside
of me; the state is me, society is me, etc.
Kierkegaard draws distinctions between the tragic hero and the knight of faith. One
can have a discussion about the actions of the tragic hero. The knight of faith
cannot communicate its actions, and his actions cannot be understood.
If the universal is the ethical, and if the ethical is the highest category, then
Abraham has transcended the ethical. Do we need a new category of the
understanding?
Kierkegaard says yes – but this new category cannot be understood. The moment
the knight speaks, he expresses the universal. This is because language expresses
the universal. As the knight fails when he steps back into the universal, the knight
will fail if he uses language.
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