Kierkegaard Analysis of Characters in the Stranger by Camus Essay

Pages: 3 (930 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 0  ·  File: .docx  ·  Level: College Senior  ·  Topic: Mythology - Religion

Kierkegaard on Camus

Albert Camus's the Stranger, though a novel on the surface, can also be read as a philosophical treatise of sorts. Its depiction of Mersault, the indifferent and apparently passionless man who doesn't cry at his mother' funeral and kills a man "because of the sun,' reflects its authors absurdist worldview, where morality and ethics are seen as irrational and meaningless without a "moral collaboration" which society eventually forces -- as much as it can be forced -- onto Mersault. This has serious implications for faith and the concepts of the individual and the universal, and thus the book finds an unlikely parallel in the works of Soren Kierkegaard, particularly his Fear and Trembling.

In this work, Kierkegaard is largely responding to Hegel's ethics, using inconsistencies he finds there to details his own ethical and religious theory. This works is both philosophical and theological, but far from trying to assert God's existence, Kierkegaard uses the logic of his ethics to demonstrate that faith is, in fact, inherently irrational, but that it should not be rejected for this reason. A careful consideration of the way in which Kierkegaard's ideas on ethics and faith tie into Camus's the Stranger requires first an explanation and definition of some of Kierkegaard's terms, however. Though the words as translated from the original Dutch might seem familiar, they mean very specific and often complex things to Kierkegaard.Buy full Download Microsoft Word File paper
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Essay on Kierkegaard Analysis of Characters in the Stranger by Camus Assignment

For Hegel, to whom Kierkegaard is responding, the universal was the essence of all existence; individuality gave a false impression of the self and was a "moral form of evil." For Kierkegaard, however, the universal as Hegel defines it is not the highest or ultimate order of reality. That which can be communicated to others, such as ethics, belongs to the universal as Hegel maintained, but there is also the religious, which is held above the universal in the way it can place the individual outside of or above ethics -- a "teleological suspension of ethics." Kierkegaard argues that it is only through the particulars -- specific instances of thought and experience had by individuals -- that the universal can be interpreted, and that therefore the individual holds supremacy above the universal, which is a reversal of Hegelian ethics.

The individual's supremacy is brought about through faith. Faith is inherently incommunicable; it renders the universal ethical rules moot, and the individual establishes a direct relationship with the absolute -- or God -- through faith, rather than through adherence to ethics. Kierkegaard uses the story of Abraham's willingness to sacrifice Isaac to illustrate, or to arrive at, this conclusion. Because the sacrifice of his son defies universal ethics, Abraham must either be condemned as a murder or considered a "knight of faith," following a higher individual calling. Faith raises the individual not by… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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