Faith as a Second Immediacy

The contradiction between Abraham's inner feeling of love for Isaac and the outward act of violence he was willing to perform for God's sake and his own sake as a test of faith leads Johannes to make a second point about

11 See e.g. Stewart (2003: 321-3), who proposes as an analogue to Abraham's situation the political assassination of a Russian noble by a German theology student named Karl Ludwig Sand, who was presumably 'inspired by the higher calling of German nationalism' during the period when Hegel was writing his Philosophy of Right. But this example is not analogous to Abraham for at least two reasons: (1) Sand's presumed higher calling was not from God but inspired by a political ideology; and (2) He did not love the man he killed. See also Perkins (2006b).

faith in contrast to Hegelian philosophy, namely that inwardness is higher than outwardness. For Hegel, the inner and the outer stand in a reciprocally opposed relation of identity the inner constituting the abstract ground of the outer, which gives concrete content and actuality to it.12 For instance, a child, who is inwardly preoccupied with its own immediate feelings and natural abilities, finds its outward rational fulfilment as an adult who has been educated to identify his or her personal interests with those of the universal. From a Hegelian standpoint, then, the outer is higher than the inner, with the result that the ethical task is to divest oneself of inwardness by giving it expression in an outward form. Whenever one fails to do that and slips back into 'the inward qualification of feeling, mood, etc.' after having entered the universal, one 'commits an offense and stands in temptation' (FT 60). As Johannes sees it, however, in identifying inwardness with the immediacy of feeling and mood, recent philosophy makes faith equivalent to the aesthetic, whereas the paradox of faith is that 'there is an inwardness that is incommensurable with the outer, an inwardness that, mind you, is not identical with that first one but is a new inwardness', which Kierkegaard elsewhere calls a 'second immediacy' or 'spontaneity after reflection' (FT 60; cf. CUP i. 347; JP i. 49; ii. 1123; v. 6135).13 In other words, the inwardness or immediacy of faith is not a given condition or natural capacity of human consciousness but commences paradoxically by virtue of the absurd after a conscious movement of infinite resignation has been made. Nor is it identical to the 'mediated immediacy' or 'mediated knowledge' that Hegel and the Hegelians call faith, since for Kierkegaard reflection does not issue in a higher conceptual cognition or identification of faith with knowledge but enables us to understand that we cannot understand the content of faith and therefore must simply believe it in the passion of faith.14

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