the ethical as such is the universal, and as the universal it applies to everyone, which can be put from another point of view by saying that it applies at every moment. it rests immanently in itself, has nothing outside itself that is its telos [end, purpose] but is itself the telos for everything outside, and when that is taken up into it, it has no further to go. . . . for faith is just this paradox, that the single individual is higher than the universal, though in such a way, be it noted, that the movement is repeated, that is, that, having been in the universal, the single individual now sets himself apart as the particular above the universal.
with abraham it is different. in his action, he overstepped the ethical altogether, and had a higher telos outside it, in relation to which he suspended it.
there is a fear of letting people loose, a fear that the worst will happen once the individual enjoys carrying on like and individual. moreover living as the individual is thought to be the easiest thing of all, and it is the universal that people must be coerced into becoming. i can share neither this fear nor this opinion, and for the same reason. no person who has learned that to exist as the individual is the most terrifying thing of all will be afraid of saying it is the greatest. but then he mustn’t say it in a way that makes his words a pitfall for somebody on the loose, but rather in a way that helps that person into the universal, even though his words can make som small allowance for greatness.
if i go further i always run up against the paradox, the divine and the demonic; for silence is both of these. it is the demon’s lure, and the more silent one keeps the more terrible the demon becomes; but silence is also divinity’s communion with the individual.
how may nowadays understand what the absurd is, how many live in such a way as to have renounced or gained everything, how many are even simply honest enough to know what they are and what they can and cannot do? and is it not true that if there are such, they are mostly to be found among the less educated and in part among women?
now people have been pleased to think from time immemorial that witches, gnomes, trolls, etc. are misshapen creatures, and it is undeniable that we all have a tendency when we see a misshapen person directly to link this idea with that of moral perversion. but what colossal injustice! it should really be the other way around. it is life itself that has corrupted them, as a stepmother makes degenerates of her stepchildren. to be put outside the universal from the start, by nature or by historical circumstance, that is the beginning of the demonic, and the individual can hardly be blamed for that.
the highest passion in a human being is faith.