Browsing by Subject "sacrifice"

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  • Koivisto, Ilkka (Helsingin yliopisto, 2017)
    The sacrificing of Isaac, described in Genesis 22, is one of the most troubling stories in Bible. In that story, Abraham was faced with a moral dilemma and compelled to choose between two bad options: to disobey God or to kill his son. Why was Abraham willing to commit the most horrendous thing one can imagine: killing his own child? Did God really ask Abraham for such a sacrifice, and if yes, did he really expect Abraham to obey? Several attempts to explain Abraham’s behavior as well as God’s command have been made. Most often, Abraham is portrayed as a model of faith. God, on the other hand, is usually seen as ”only testing” Abraham, but not really expecting a sacrifice. Many scholars are questioning these interpretations, though. To some of them, Abraham is no more than a criminal, and God a moral monster. In this study, I am taking an analytical approach to existing literature and commentaries on the sacrificing of Isaac. I am describing, classifying and comparing different attempts to resolve the obvious conflict between divine obedience and morality. Since the command to sacrifice Isaac is often regarded as a divine test, I will also examine, what exactly might have been the focus of that test: faith, obedience, fear or something else? I am also referring to some contemporary crime cases to show that sacrificing a child in God’s name doesn’t belong only to history. Thus, contrary to some Bible commentators who claim that nothing similar could happen today, I will show that some people have used the story of Abraham and Isaac as a justification for their pernicious action. Finally, and as the title of my thesis implies, I will propose a ”kaleidoscopic” approach to the story of sacrificing Isaac. Just like an image in a kaleidoscope is prone to change with each new treatment, so is the interpretation of the story. Even more, the story in Genesis 22 is like a Rorschach test: it allows for the viewer to see what she wants to see, and to project her preconceptions of Abraham and God to the troublesome image.
  • Salama, Virva (Helsingin yliopisto, 2018)
    French philosopher Philippe Lacoue-Labarthe claims, that the Platonian-Aristotelian ethical base of the West has rendered horrors of the 20th century possible. Western culture has created romantic myths and figures, which determine our identities and thinking. Consequently, our understanding of ethics is uniform, as it is structured to support the prevailing myths and figures. It is necessary to deconstruct them, if we wish to avoid radical evil in the future. Lacoue-Labarthe argues, that such deconstruction is possible only, if we acknowledge the mimetic ontology of a subject as well as of truth: mimesis is a condition for the possibility of perception as ideas can emerge only in representation. Since mimesis has no essence, no representation is ever exhaustive. This gives arts and literature an essential role in relation to philosophy, because the artist reverts the effects of mimesis into a work of art. Lacoue-Labarthe calls ethics that acknowledge importance of mimesis and aspires to deconstruct prevailing ethos as arch-ethics. In my reading of the Gospel of Judas which surfaced in 2006, I deconstruct the role of Judas Iscariot. While Judas is known as the quintessential traitor in the West, the Gospel offers an alternative perspective based on its Gnostic view of life. According to Lacoue-Labarthe, tragedy can be used as a matrix for thought to approach arch-ethics. In my study, I project the Aristotelian structure and understanding of tragedy onto the plot of the Gospel to facilitate ethical analysis on both plot and allegorical levels. I will then contemplate the arch-ethical implications of such levels. The deconstruction of the figure of the arch-traitor results in an interpretative narrative, which questions the prevailing understanding of concepts like knowledge, sacrifice and salvation. Even in our secularised time, such concepts affect the way we contemplate ethics, because the Bible remains pivotal when considering the foundation of western ethos. Based on my reading of the Gospel as a tragedy with arch-ethical implications, in the end of my study I briefly outline the ethical conclusions as to the goals I understand arch-ethics to have. Such conclusions combine the concepts of responsibility (Lévinas), recognition (Ricœur) and gift (Derrida) with deconstruction of current ethics of dichotomies, acknowledgement of the mimetic nature of human beings, and ethical thinking understood as a hermeneutic circle.