This article discussed the use of the Bible in 'Love's hidden life and its recognizability by its fruits', which is the first reflection of Søren Kierkegaard's book, Works. fulfill their purpose when students do not grow up in the context of an outlook upon life which represents a true integration? Despite its many admirable qualities. demand the reader to love the neighbour need not diminish his work insofar The first of the series of Christian works of love that Kierkegaard advances is the.
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Søren Kierkegaard. WORKS OF. LOVE. SOME CHRISTIAN REFLECTIONS. IN THE FORM in the defence that Christianity has thrust erotic love and friendship. Kierkegaard's Writings, XVI: Works of Love Series: Kierkegaard's Writings Read Online · Download PDF; Save; Cite this Item Works of Lovewas published (September 29, ) about six months after the publication ofUpbuilding. [Soren Kierkegaard] Works of Love - Ebook download as PDF File .pdf), Text File .txt) or read book online. Soren Kierkegaard - Works of Love.
Jump to navigation Jump to search The times are past when only the powerful and the prominent were human beings—and the others were bond servants and slaves. This is due to Christianity. Since the world does not really believe in God, in the long run the God-fearing person must really love himself. The God-fearing person does not love what the world loves, but then what is left—God and himself. The world takes God away, and therefore the God-fearing person loves himself.
For interpretations of Kierkegaard as a eudaemonist, see Gregory R. For an attack on eudaemonist readings of Kierkegaard, see Ronald M. As we shall see, Kierkegaard answers these two questions in divergent ways. He first and foremost recommends adopting an optimistic attitude: We ought to believe the best about people.
We should assume they act out of concern for others, not mere self-interest. Love is to presuppose love; to have love is to presuppose love in others; to be loving is to presuppose that others are loving.
Adorno criticizes Kierkegaard for eschewing reciprocity, for calling us to love others whether or not they love us in return. Thus, he focuses on the asymmetry between how we treat others and how they treat us.
My focus is the asymmetry between how we treat others and how we treat ourselves. See Theodor W. Hopefully we will thereby come to view any given misdeed as less of one, or not one at all.
Forgiveness removes what cannot be denied to be sin. Thus love strives in every way to hide a multitude of sins; but forgiveness is the most notable way. Forgiving someone makes sense when we are ones who have been injured. It is out of order when the action harms a third party. I can properly forgive only harms inflicted upon me. Admittedly, refusing to speak up in such situations also sometimes seems wrong. I address this point in section VII.
We should not work toward our true good—our moral and religious perfection—by being optimistic about ourselves. We ought not to presuppose the best: selfless motivations and altruistic agendas.
We must proceed pessimistically, constantly doubting our moral and religious prowess. But Kierkegaard adopts the opposite position this time around. He embraces it: Guilty? Not guilty? This is the earnest question in legal proceedings. The thrust of this passage is that, rather than willfully ignoring our own wrongdoings, we should seek them out.
We must struggle to become aware of our guilt and conscious of our sins. He ceaselessly prods us to examine the purity of our hearts, the selflessness of our loves, and the unconditionality of our devotion to God. Forgiveness constitutes a striking example. Neither are you defrauding God of what belongs to him if you sell forgiveness for nothing; you are not wasting your time or misusing it if you ponder what may well serve as an excuse; and if no excuse is to be found you are not deceived if you…believe that the offense must be excusable.
The task in both cases is to promote the true good of the person in question. However, when Kierkegaard explains in concrete detail what it means to carry out these projects, we encounter asymmetry.
He recommends treating others with leniency and charity, ourselves with stringency and 37 SKS 5, f. But cf. SKS 12, 30f. The question I will pursue in what follows is whether such disparate treatment is consistent with loving our neighbor as ourselves. Its extension includes acquaintances, strangers, friends, and enemies.
In addition, the commandment is usually taken to imply not merely that we must love all those who fall into these categories but that we must love them in the same way, namely as we love ourselves.
In short, we should have equal regard for everyone. These bonds are celebrated rather than disparaged or abolished. Moreover, Christianity tends not to demand we treat those in our inner circles just as we do strangers and enemies. Different attitudes and responses are permitted here. Augustine, p.
Santurri and William Werpehowski, Washington, D. Indeed, he explicitly affirms them. He distinguishes between equal regard for all people and identical treatment of them. Yes, we must view everyone as possessing the same intrinsic moral value. We must care about them for their own sake, not just for the sake of any benefits they may provide us.
However, we do not have to act in precisely the same way toward each and every individual. Outka marshals two compelling considerations in favor of his view. First, because we are finite creatures, we cannot treat everyone the same.
Second, behaving the same toward everyone would be obtuse. Responding indiscriminately to the hungry, the naked, and the sick would be bizarrely insensitive. A prudent love responds variously according to the specific circumstances of those it encounters.
Bell, New York: Harper and Row , pp. For a more general discussion of the issue, see Outka, Agape, pp. SKS 9, 69f. See Krishek, Kierkegaard on Faith and Love, pp.
SKS 9, f. The obligation to regard everyone equally remains in place and installs constraints: We cannot interact with people however we please.
Disparities in attitude and behavior cannot be based on idiosyncratic preference or aversion. They must be grounded in morally salient differences between the cases. Differences between Others and Ourselves Several differences might justify being more latitudinarian with others than with ourselves.
Two in particular seem promising. First, Kierkegaard often hints we know ourselves better than we know others. Their motivations and intentions remain forever obscure to us. By contrast, we can know our own minds. It is possible for us to become aware of what drives us to do what we do. Outka, Agape, p. Outka, Agape, pp. The only evidence at our disposal is observations and reports of what people say and do. But these data underdetermine the issue.
Kierkegaard believes any action can be performed and any statement can be uttered out of love or its opposite.
One person cannot ethically judge another. We can know what led us to say and do what we have said and done. Still, in principle, we have access to our own motivations.
So moral and religious assessment of our own words and deeds is potentially felicitous in a way it is not when it comes to others. See also SKS 9, f. Frankfurt, The Reasons of Love, pp.
Steere, New York: Harper and Row , p. It is a structural feature of agency that some things we can only do for ourselves. More significantly, only I can adopt the moral good or communion with God as my ultimate end.
Following Kant, Kierkegaard maintains we can be responsible only for that over which we have control. We can even aid them with important tasks such as loving their neighbors or cleaving to God. Whose recovery is more doubtful, that of the one who does not see, or that of the person who sees and yet does not see? What is more difficult—to awaken someone who is sleeping or to awaken someone who, awake, is dreaming that he is awake?
A conflict between spirit and flesh is inconceivable unless there is a rebellious spirit on the side of flesh, with which the spirit then contends; similarly, a conflict between spirit and a stone or between spirit and a tree is inconceivable. Only by loving God above all else can one love the neighbor.
Love for the neighbor is therefore the eternal equality in loving. Equality is simply not to make distinctions and eternal equality is unconditionally not to make the slightest distinction, unqualifiedly not to make the slightest distinction.
The essential Christian is itself too weighty, in its movements too earnest to scurry about, dancing, in the frivolity of such facile talk about the higher, highest, and the supremely highest. Basically we all understand the highest. A child, the simplest person, and the wisest all understand the highest.
But what makes the difference is whether we understand it at a distance—so that we do not act accordingly, or close at hand—so that we act accordingly and "cannot do otherwise. And the father went to the second and said the same. But he answered, "I will, sir," and he did not go. Which of the two did the will of his father? Forget it and be noisy along with the crowd, laugh or cry, be busy from morning until night, be loved and respected and esteemed as a friend, as a public official, as a king, as a pallbearer.
Above all be an earnest person by having forgotten the one and only earnestness, to relate yourself to God, to become nothing. This is indeed the case everywhere, but not in love , which is a revolution from the ground up. Hence there is a more profound contradiction here. There was no fault in the girl; she was and remained faithful to her erotic love.
A detailed discussion of this book is presented in chapter 4. See Hall Such conflation is especially problematic with respect to the issue of preferentiality. I discuss this problem at length in chapters 4 and 5. But if we follow the more recent readings of Works of Love and ultimately disregard this distinction or render it inessential , then it seems that we will have to conclude that Kierkegaard has nothing special to say about romantic love in particular.
We seem to be faced, therefore, with two unhappy options as far as the relevance of Works of Love to a theory of romantic love is concerned. Either, as the critics argue, the book fails to provide any convincing account of love, romantic or otherwise or, as the sympathizers imply, it provides a valuable account of love, but ultimately one that blurs the unique character of romantic love, failing to distinguish it from other forms of love.
Does he indeed have nothing illuminating to contribute to our understanding of this specific form of love? In the present study I wish to argue quite to the contrary.
I claim not only that the subject of romantic love is important for Kierkegaard, but that he offers a unique understanding of its nature and significance. To see this, however, we must broaden our investigation and, in contrast with the customary interpretative tendency in this connection, focus not only on Works of Love but also on the aesthetic writings, and, in particular, on Fear and Trembling.
In this central text Kierkegaard presents, side by side with stories of romantic love, an account of the double structure of faith, which includes two seemingly contradicting movements: the movement of resignation and the movement of faith.
There is an important connection, I claim, between these two movements and a possible understanding, and fulfilment, of love. Not only does the account of the double movement of faith in Fear and Trembling interestingly parallel the stories of love that it relates, this account also helps to address the inconsistent view of romantic love that we find in Works of Love.
Exploring love in the light of faith, then, opens a new way to the understanding of love, and romantic love in particular. In the present study, however, I wish to point to the intriguing connection that Kierkegaard draws between faith and love, and more specifically between faith and romantic love; this profound connection, I argue, may serve to illuminate the nature of the latter.
As we shall see, the central themes of resignation coupled with repetition, of self-denial coupled with affirmation, of the need to give away coupled with the ability to receive back, are crucial for understanding the life of love no less than for understanding the life of faith.
WL, Years before writing these words in Works of Love, the young Kierkegaard articulated the following reflections in his journal: Often, as I stood here on a quiet evening, the sea intoning its song with deep but calm solemnity … then the few dear departed ones rose from the grave before me, or rather, it seemed as though they were not dead.
And before my contemplative gaze, vanished the pettiness that so often causes offence in life, the many misunderstandings that so often separate persons of different temperament, who, if they understood one another properly, would be tied together with indissoluble bonds.
JN, 9 Kierkegaard is standing at one of his favourite points in Gilleleje, the sound of the sea and the breadth of the sky envelop him, and in the midst of this grandeur he has a twofold vision. It begins with a deep longing for those beloved ones who are gone. He encounters them in some inbetween zone: they seem to be leaving the world of the dead, coming to him; he seems to be stepping beyond the concreteness of his body, the concreteness of the finite world, into their welcoming embrace.
He feels so comfortable in their other-worldly arms, as if he has found home. But then the cry of the seagull brings him back, reminds him of the impossibility of this love: they are there, lost to him, he is here, alone in the world. One force is that of resignation: he is reconciled to his nothingness, he dies to the world; the other is that of affirmation: he nevertheless has his place in this world; his abode is not only among the dead, but also among the living.
After all, his vision begins with painfully feeling the impossibility of love: he yearns for those beloved ones that are forever gone, those who were irrevocably taken away, those whose death uncompromisingly separated them from him. But simultaneously he also envisions the possibility of love: he can feel the blissfulness that human bonds entail, and the providence of God that 14 See the first deliberation in Works of Love.
This powerful insight reveals the possibility of love in the face of finitude and limitedness: that is, in the existential context of the ephemerality, loss, separation, and death that seem to posit an impassable obstacle on the way of fulfilling love.
We may therefore say that by depicting this poetic vision, Kierkegaard is actually asking about the desirable way to love, about the right way to love. Given the conditions of our existence that seem to work against the possibility of joyful love , what form should love take so as to become possible nevertheless?
Rather, it is the kind of love that later in his philosophy Kierkegaard refers to as preferential love. It is a concern with this kind of love that infuses his early existential reflections, and drives him to ponder the possibility of satisfying relationships of love, thus implicitly raising the following question.
Together with Kierkegaard although not always in agreement with him , and by using his implicit and explicit discussions of love, I shall ask: what does genuine romantic love look like; what is the right way to love romantically?
His writings are pervaded by the spirits of unhappy lovers, and their yearning for lost relationships of love. In Repetition we meet a somewhat more reserved lover, but no less elusive and unhappy, the Poet who cannot find in his beloved the mysterious thing that he is really after. But beneath the apparently perfect surface there are hints of conflicting and darker attitudes, making the reader wonder whether the Judge is as happy a lover as he thinks he is.
It is only in Fear and Trembling, a work which seems to be told in the voice of yet another unhappy lover, that the real possibility of a happy love relationship emerges. The development in question, however, is applicable not only to the views of life, but also to the views of love that these writings present. In this study, therefore, I propose to explore the Kierkegaardian stages of love.
The pseudonymous author of Fear and Trembling is Johannes de Silentio, who is often identified with the unhappy young man whom he describes as being in love with the princess. De Silentio speaks as one who has not achieved a happy love, but does consider it to be a real possibility.
Actual, potential, and essential loss Being finite and subject to the passage of time, our existence is pervaded by constant loss. Time goes by and seems to take with it everything that gives meaning to our life. Most often this loss is quiet and inconspicuous, but at the same time it is unstoppable.
From this point of view, becoming involved in relationships of love — that is, becoming deeply attached to the essentially evanescent — cannot but lead to misery and pain: My heart grew sombre with grief, and wherever I looked I saw only death … My eyes searched everywhere for him, but he was not there to be seen … I lived in misery, like every man whose soul is tethered by the love of things that cannot last and then is agonized to lose them.
Only then does he realize the sorry state he is in, and was in even before his loss. Therefore, to become involved in a 18 19 20 There are debates in the secondary literature as to how the theory of stages should be formulated and understood.
On the one hand there are scholars who argue that there are four, and even five, stages of development see, for example, Evans ; Westphal and, on the other hand, there are readings that refuse to see such a progressive or hierarchical connection between the stages at all see, for example, Jegstrup and Poole and The focus of this study, however, is love and its development: the less or more satisfying ways to fulfil it, the less or more genuine ways to experience it.
Accordingly, the theory of the stages serves here only as a framework — as a background against which the development of love can be clearly manifested. The interpretative questions mentioned above, as well as other questions regarding the theory of the stages, will therefore not be my concern here. Augustine 76, It means that even before an actual loss takes place, the beloved and the relationship are potentially lost, and that the lover, accordingly, is always potentially on the verge of great suffering.
We need to distinguish, then, between two kinds of loss, actual and potential. When we speak of loss we usually refer to the former kind. However, a love relationship which ends also amounts to an actual loss, as do periods of time that are gone forever childhood, youth, last year, yesterday. The latter expression of loss, the quiet loss involved in the passage of time, is less striking.
It is a mundane, non-dramatic sort of loss, almost unnoticeable — and yet it is a form of actual loss nevertheless. Potential loss, on the other hand, is a loss that threatens to become actualized, that hints at a future possibility of actual loss. The inevitable future death of every human being, for example, amounts to a potential loss at present, and it hangs over our lives as a gloomy promise which we know must be fulfilled.
The possible termination of a love relationship is another example of potential loss — however, unlike death, this gloomy possibility can be averted until death, that is.
Potential loss, then, might either be actualized or not, but its threatening presence enfolds our existence all the same. It lurks beneath the surface of everything in time, and shapes our life accordingly. Our finite, temporal existence, therefore, is characterized by constant loss, which is either actual in those cases in which it has already occurred or potential when it has not.
Everything in time is either actually lost or potentially lost. Everything finite, if it has not yet been taken away from us, is doomed to be taken away from us eventually, or is at least under the threat that it might, eventually, be taken away from us. Thus loss, whether actual or potential, indicates that our hold on things is always profoundly insecure: nothing is really at our disposal.
Everything is in essence namely, either in an actual way or only potentially lost for us. My claim is that everything that we have, everything that we take to be ours, is in truth essentially lost for us. Now, relationships of love are characterized by an intense desire to have a secure hold on the beloved. Accordingly, loss in its various forms poses a deep threat to love.
This threat may express itself in many ways, but all are essentially connected to the passage of time. Like many waters 12 kierkegaard on faith and love flowing over a rock, the passage of time must affect the shape of even the strongest of loves — and the lover is terrified by the unknowability of this future. All of these are a consequence of our finitude and limitedness, and all render our relationships of love essentially insecure.
When facing the threat involved in its essential insecurity, how is love possible at all? How can we find joy in our loves, and strive to fulfil them, under the shadow of their essential loss? Can we overcome the obstacle of essential loss? Can we reconcile with the insecurity of love? Or, to put it as succinctly as possible, can we fulfil love even when we clearly see its potential and sometimes actual ruins?
As I have suggested above, the way to assess the different stages of love is precisely by exploring their different responses to this unsettling question. In other words, the various ways of responding to the loss that threatens love constitute the different stages of Kierkegaardian love.
But only one of these constitutes the correct form of love. Of the various stages of romantic love, of the various possible ways open to the lover to fulfil his love, the right way is that structured in the form of faith.
In a way, one of the tasks of the present study is to inquire into — and justify — this biblical assertion against the background of the existential fact just stated above.
R, See note 13 above. What does this mean? There are several possible stages in the way of love and, as I explained above, I suggest that we delineate the differences between them by examining their different responses to loss.
In chapter 1, then, we will meet three types of lovers — the aesthetic, the ethical, and the demonic — who despite the noticeable differences between them share a form of love that is fundamentally miserable.
And indeed they all manage to hold on safely and securely to something — but not to what they had originally intended. They all end up without genuinely relating to the actual object of their love. This substitute may amount to a memory of the beloved girl replacing an actual contact with her , or to a poetic recreation of the love relationship replacing an actual fulfilment of the relationship , or to a self-righteous adherence to some ethical ideal regarding the perfect love replacing a real effort to overcome the imperfections of the actual love relationship.
Now, of the three types of lovers at the stage of recollection, it is only the demonic who recognizes the limits of this state.
However, he cannot move beyond it: to leave the sphere of recollection, the lover needs to undertake a painful movement that carries him into the religious sphere. This is the movement of resignation, and the lover who undertakes it is the subject of chapter 2. While the lovers in the sphere of recollection try to avoid loss in various ways, the knight of resignation acknowledges the essential impossibility of sustaining a secure hold on his love, and he willingly releases any such hold.
In spite of desiring the beloved above all other things, he renounces the relationship with her. He does not try to secure a false hold on the beloved, but at the same time he continues to love her.
His attachment to her is therefore structured in an intriguing way.