Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Emil Fackenheim on Kant, Kierkegaard and the Akeida

I have been reading Emil Fackenheim's analysis of the both Immanuel Kant's and Soren Kierkegaard's understanding of the Akeida. It's taking a long time, but here is a quote that points out the problem with Kierkegaard's idea that like Abraham, all men should be willing to suspend their sense of right and wrong in order to answer the immediacy of God's calling, and if need be, even act today, as Abraham did.

The problem with that, says Fackenheim, is that we know the Torah prohibits child sacrifice, and does not want us to act today as Abraham did then. Judaism does not want us to be willing to offer child sacrifices, and thus cannot accept Kierkegaard position:

For Kierkegaard, the ethical is actually suspended in the Akeida and potentially suspended for every knight of faith after Abraham. In Judaism, the Torah ends the possibility of any such suspension... In short, whereas Kant bids Jewish thought to reject even the original Akeida, Kierkegaard demands of Jewish thought the eternal perpetuation of its possibility. Whereas Kant will not let the Akeida rest on Abraham's merit, Kierkegaard would rob us of the Torah, which forbids child sacrifice.

Emil Fackenheim, Encounters Between Judaism and Modern Philosophy

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