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Sin does not properly belong in any science. It is the theme with which the sermon deals, where the individual talks as an individual to the individual. In our age scientific self-importance has turned the priests into professorial parish-clerks of a sort, who also serve science and think it beneath their dignity to preach. It is no wonder therefore that preaching has come to be regarded as a pretty poor art. Nevertheless, preaching is the most difficult of all arts, and essentially it is the art which Socrates extols: the art of being able to converse. From this of course it does not follow that there must be someone in the congregation to make answer, or that it might be a help to have someone regularly introduced to speak. When Socrates censured the Sophists by making the distinction that they were able to talk but not to converse, what he really meant was that they were able to say a great deal about everything, but lacked the factor of personal appropriation. Appropriation is precisely the secret of conversation.

To the concept of sin corresponds the mood of seriousness. The science in which sin might most plausibly find a place would surely be ethics. About this, however, there is a great difficulty. Ethicsother science is ideal. Ethics bring ideality into reality; on the other hand its movement is not designed to raise reality up into ideality. {If one will consider this more sharply, one will have opportunity to perceive how brilliant it was to entitle the last section of logic "Reality," inasmuch as not even ethics reaches that. The reality with which logic ends signifies therefore in the way of reality no more than that "being" with which it begins.} Ethics points to ideality as a task and assumes that man is in possession of the conditions requisite for performing it. Thereby ethics develops a contradiction, precisely for the fact that it makes the difficulty and the impossibility clear. What is said of the Law "applies to ethics, that it is a severe schoolmaster, which in making a demand, by its demand only condemns, does not give birth to life. Only the Greek ethics constituted an exception, due to the fact that it was not ethics in the proper sense but contained an ethical factor. This is evinced clearly in its definition of virtue" and in what Aristotle says often but also in Ethica Nicomachea affirms with charming Greek naiveté that, after all, virtue alone does not make a man happy and content, but he must have health, friends, earthly] goods, be happy in his family. The more ideal ethics is, the better. It must not let itself be disturbed by the twaddle that it is no use requiring the impossible; for even to listen to such talk is unethical, is something for which ethics has neither time nor opportunity. Ethics does not have to chaffer, nor in that way does one reach reality. If that is to be reached, the whole movement must be reversed. This characteristic of ethics, namely, that it is so ideal, is what tempts one in the treatment of it to employ now a metaphysical category, now an aesthetical, now a psychological. But of course ethics above all sciences must withstand temptations, but because there are these temptations no one can write an ethics without having entirely different categories up his sleeve.

Sin belongs to ethics only in so far as upon this concept it founders by the aid of repentance.

{With regard to this point one will find several observations by Johannes de silentio, author of Fear and Trembling (Copenhagen 1843). There the author several times allows the wishful ideality of the aesthetical to founder upon the exacting ideality of the ethical, in order by these collisions to let the religious ideality come to evidence, which is precisely the ideality of reality, and therefore is just as desirable as that of aesthetics and not impossible like that of ethics, and to let it come to evidence in such a way that it breaks out in the dialectical leap and with the positive feeling, "Behold, all things have become new!" and in the negative feeling which is the passion of the absurd to which the concept of "repetition" corresponds. Either the whole of existence is to be expressed in the requirement of ethics, or the condition for its fulfilment must be provided and with that the whole of life and of existence begins afresh, not through an immanent continuity with the foregoing (which is a contradiction), but by a transcendent fact which separates the repetition from the first existence by such a cleft that it is only a figure of speech to say that the foregoing and the subsequent state are related to one another as the totality of the living creatures in the sea are related to those in the air and on the land, although according to the opinion of some natural scientists the former is supposed to be the prototype which in its imperfection prefigures everything which becomes manifest in the latter. With regard to this category one may compare Repetition by Constantine Constantius (Copenhagen 1843). This book is in fact a whimsical book, as its author meant it to be, but nevertheless it is so far as I know the first which has energetically conceived repetition and let it be glimpsed in its pregnancy to explain the relation between the ethical and the Christian, by indicating the invisible summit and the discrimen rerum where science breaks against science until the new science comes forth. But what he has discovered he has hidden again by arraying the concept in the form of jest which aptly offers itself as a mode of presentation. What has moved him to do this it is difficult to say, or rather it is difficult to understand; for he says himself that he writes this "so that the heretics might not be able to understand him." As he has only wished to employ himself with this subject aesthetically and psychologically, he might have planned it all humoristically, and the effect would have been produced by the fact that the word at one moment signifies everything, and the next moment the most insignificant thing, and the transition, or rather the perpetual falling from the stars, is justified as a burlesque contrast. However, he stated the whole thing pretty clearly on page 34: "Repetition is the interest of metaphysics and at the same time the interest upon which metaphysics founders," etc. This sentence contains an allusion to the thesis that metaphysics is disinterested, as Kant affirmed of ethics. As soon as the interest emerges, metaphysics steps to one side. For this reason the word is italicised. The whole interest of subjectivity emerges in real life, and then metaphysics founders. In case metaphysics is not posited, ethics remains a binding power; presumably it is for this reason he says that "it is a solution of every ethical apprehension." If repetition is not posited, dogmatics cannot exist at all; for in faith repetition begins, and faith is the organ for the dogmatic problems. in the sphere of nature repetition exists in its immovable necessity. In the sphere of spirit the problem is not to get change out of repetition and find oneself comfortable under it, as though the spirit stood only in an external relation to the repetitions of the spirit (in consequence of which good and evil alternate like summer and winter), but the problem is to transform repetition into something inward, into the proper task of freedom, into freedom's highest interest, as to whether, while everything changes, it can actually realise repetition. Here the finite spirit falls into despair. This Constantine has indicated by stepping aside and letting repetition break forth in the young man by virtue of the religious. Therefore Constantine says several times that repetition is a religious category, too transcendent for him, that it is a movement by virtue of the absurd, and on page 42 it is said that eternity is the true repetition. All this Professor Heiberg has failed to observe, but he has very kindly wished by his knowledge (which like his New Year's gift-book is singularly elegant and up-to-date) to help this work to become a tasteful and elegant insignificance, by pompously bringing the question back to the point where (to recall a recent book) the aesthetic writer in Either/Or had brought it in "The Rotation of Crops." if Constantine were really to feel himself flattered by enjoying in this instance the rare honour which brings him into an undeniably elect company-then to my way of thinking, since it was he who wrote the book, he must have become stark mad. But if on the other hand an author like him, who writes in order to be misunderstood, were so far to forget himself and had not ataraxia enough to account it to his credit that Professor Heiberg had not understood him-then again he must be stark mad. And this I have no need to fear, for the circumstance that hitherto he has not replied to Professor Heiberg indicates that he has adequately understood himself.}

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