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Gabrielle Povolotsky

In Existentialism, Basic Writings, Guignon and Pereboom initiate by


introducing Kierkegaard and his studies regarding the authority that God, or
an Absolute power, has over each of us and how an individual may be
expected to act in the eyes of various standpoints. urthermore, their
descriptions proceed to describe a multitude of ethical dilemmas and even
go on to describe paradoxes such as despair and existing, whether in or
potentially out of one!s self " whatever that word even means.
Initially, in order to figure out Kierkegaard!s references and the lessons
behind the story of Abraham and Isaac, I first attempted to ask myself what
authority may be considered. rom existentially thinking that I am entirely
self"aware and am living a self"controlled existence, I can!t help but to
wonder whether the concept of #authority! is some sort of threat to freedom.
If the only authority one is supposed to answer to is him, why should
anything be up to the $urisdiction of others% &his is not to say that one
should go throughout life living in some type of destructive manner or
promote anarchism' however, when it comes to believing in some sort of
higher power, how may one (xistentially find a balance or golden mean
between freedom and being limited by the authoritative supervision of a
God% )an one ever be absolutely accepting and all"following of a God%
According to Kierkegaard, as well as the additional opinions of Guignon and
Pereboom, there has to be a certain lifestyle one must maintain in order to
definitely say that he*she is absolutely following God " one that is impossible
to achieve.
&his +absolute duty, comes from ensuring that, much like in Abraham!s
situation, the ethical dilemmas are seen as relative, and that one must look
at circumstances in the eyes of the bigger picture, in the responsibility for all
of his*her existence in the eyes of God. Abraham!s actions seemed ludicrous
to those around him, and may even seem appalling, as Guignon and
Pereboom state, to anyone living in contemporary times. In asking to
sacrifice his son, God is being rather despicable. -&his also con$ured
thoughts of the .ob /ylan song, +0ighway 12 3evisited,, which references
the same story*ideas. God is demanding and backhandedly tyrannical about
his reign, and it shows the dilemma in trying to be true and free to one!s self
but simultaneously trying to appease what!s supposed to be an +all"loving,
God.4 0owever, by Abraham taking the brash initiative to trust God!s
authority, he is proving his duty to be absolute. 5hether this can be
accomplished by anyone living contemporarily is certainly 6uestionable, but
when it comes down to it, that is the mindset that must be maintained.
7ubse6uently, I believe that Kierkegaard is rational in the same way
that all of life and existence seems to also be, in that his rationality is shown
through his irrationality " even if it is apparently feigned in the midst of
some of his works. 0e argues against the traditional, rational thought in
saying that faith does not exist to contradict rational thought or action but
rather, it supersedes it. 5hen an individual chooses to place his*her beliefs
in faith, it is not denying the reality of everything, all of the conventions and
realities held in the world, but it is simply prioriti8ing the existence of the
bigger picture, the end result, and a higher power over what is currently
being experienced in the universal self.
)onclusively, Pereboom and Guignon end the section of Kierkegaard
appropriately by finali8ing that truth, existence, and most especially faith,
are all a gamble. In order to maintain faith but also hope to live in a
purposeful way " to seek ultimate, absolute truth " one must acknowledge
that existence and living may be a gamble. .ecause there is no final answer
to what may become of anyone throughout life, one must constantly hold
the idea of uncertainty in the front of his*her mind, and this is what leads to
the security of faith and beliefs. As Guignon and Pereboom state, +5ithout
risk there is no faith,, -9:.4 &hroughout existence, faith exists because there
is uncertainty and vice versa. ;verall, an absolute duty may not be any sort
of $ustification, for one must act in some sort of way that displays his*her
free will and conscious ability to choose as a human individual. 5hen one
reali8es that his actions must be for ones self, it is then when the inward
passion grows and one can develop some sort of faith to experience about
life.