Is it possible to write an essay on Kierkegaard without the mention of the ethical/philosophical monstrosity of the ‘teleological suspension of the ethical’? Mr. Jeffrey Frank benignly characterizes it as ‘ a dazzling thought experiment’ with ‘somewhat frightening, especially when you consider its extreme, all-too-familiar modern-day applications’ . Might we call it by it’s real name? The rationale or philosophical permission of the religious zealot and or mass murderer? Or does that strain the bounds of respectable bourgeois intellectual/political discourse?
One need only consult Professor Alastair Hannay’s illuminating biography of Mr. K. to learn the heart wrenching, indeed dismal particulars of this religious/philosophical dissident’s life- it is the record of losses: the deaths of Mother, beloved sister and of his runaway brother in New Jersey. The news of his brother’s death from tuberculosis in a letter from his brother’s friend. Not to speak of his alienation from his father and older brother, the religious community and his generalized, even pervasive emotional perversity e.g. Regine Olsen.
This Christian seer and apostle of irrationalism inspired a generation of philosophers and religious thinkers. The idea of the ‘teleological suspension of the ethical’ is a monument to that irrationalism, not speak of the bankruptcy of the idea of submission to the will of god as ineluctable, the ultimate expression of the religious psychosis that is the Abrahamic Tradition.