Kierkegaard's Writings, XVI: Works of Love

Kierkegaard's Writings, XVI: Works of Love

Sören Kierkegaard
Howard V. Hong
Edna H. Hong
Copyright Date: 1995
Pages: 576
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  • Book Info
    Kierkegaard's Writings, XVI: Works of Love
    Book Description:

    The various kinds and conditions of love are a common theme for Kierkegaard, beginning with his earlyEither/Or, through "The Diary of the Seducer" and Judge William's eulogy on married love, to his last work, on the changelessness of God's love.Works of Love, the midpoint in the series, is also the monumental high point, because of its penetrating, illuminating analysis of the forms and sources of love. Love as feeling and mood is distinguished from works of love, love of the lovable from love of the unlovely, preferential love from love as the royal law, love as mutual egotism from triangular love, and erotic love from self-giving love.

    This work is marked by Kierkegaard's Socratic awareness of the reader, both as the center of awakened understanding and as the initiator of action. Written to be read aloud, the book conveys a keenness of thought and an insightful, poetic imagination that make such an attentive approach richly rewarding.Works of Lovenot only serves as an excellent place to begin exploring the writings of Kierkegaard, but also rewards many rereadings.

    eISBN: 978-1-4008-4701-3
    Subjects: Philosophy

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-viii)
    (pp. ix-xvi)

    Works of Lovewas published (September 29, 1847) about six months after the publication ofUpbuilding Discourses in Various Spirits(March 13, 1847), a volume Kierkegaard dedicated to “that single individual,”¹ “whom I with joy and gratitude callmyreader.”² Reflecting in his usual dialectical way upon the emphasis on individuality, the individual, and the single individual, Kierkegaard wrote a journal entry in which he anticipated the response to the discourses and formulated the tide for his next book:

    Despite everything people ought to have learned about my maieutic carefulness, by proceeding slowly and continually letting it seem as if...

  4. Works of Love
    • First Series
      • PREFACE
        (pp. 3-4)
        S. K.
      • I Love’s Hidden Life and Its Recognizability by Its Fruits
        (pp. 5-16)

        If it were so, as conceited sagacity, proud of not being deceived, thinks, that we should believe nothing that we cannot see with our physical eyes, then we first and foremost ought to give up believing in love. If we were to do so and do it out of fear lest we be deceived, would we not then be deceived? We can, of course, be deceived in many ways. We can be deceived by believing what is untrue, but we certainly are also deceived by not believing what is true. We can be deceived by appearances, but we certainly are...

      • II A You Shall Love
        (pp. 17-43)

        Every discourse, particularly a section of a discourse, usually presupposes something that is the starting point. Someone who wishes to deliberate on the discourse or statement therefore does well to find this presupposition first in order then to begin with it. Our quoted text also contains a presupposition that, although it comes last, is nevertheless the beginning.21When it is said, “You shall love your neighbor [Nœste] as yourself,” this contains what is presupposed, that every person loves himself Thus, Christianity, which by no means begins, as do those high-flying thinkers, without presuppositions, nor with a flattering presupposition,22presupposes this....

      • II B You Shall Love the Neighbor
        (pp. 44-60)

        Frequently, although in different ways, in different moods, and with different passions and purposes, the objection is made against Christianity that it displaces erotic love [Elskov] and friendship.62Then in turn people have wanted to defend Christianity and to that end have appealed to its doctrine that one is to love God with one’s whole heart and the neighbor as oneself When the argument is carried on in this way, it makes no difference whether one agrees or disagrees, since shadowboxing [Fœgten i Luften] and making an empty agreement [Overeenkomst i Luften] are equally meaningless. One must rather take care...

      • II C You Shall Love the Neighbor
        (pp. 61-90)

        Go, then, and do this, take away dissimilarity and its similarity so that you can love the neighbor. Take away the distinction of preferential love so that you can love the neighbor. But you are not to cease loving the beloved because of this—far from it. If in order to love the neighbor you would have to begin by giving up loving those for whom you have preference, the word “neighbor” would be the greatest deception ever contrived. Moreover, it would even be a contradiction, since inasmuch as the neighbor is all people surely no one can be excluded-should...

      • III A Romans 13:10. Love Is the Fulfilling of the Law
        (pp. 91-134)

        “To promise is honorable [œrlig], but to keep is hard [besvœrlig],” says the proverb—but with what right? It is certainly clear that to keep a promise is honorable, and in that case the proverb can be right that to keep is honorable and also hard. But then what becomes of the promising? Indeed, according to the suggested explanation, the proverb says nothing about what it is; perhaps, then, to promise is nothing at all; perhaps it is less than nothing. Perhaps the proverb even cautions against promising, as if it would say: Waste no time on promising; keeping, which...

      • III B Love Is a Matter of Conscience
        (pp. 135-153)

        If one were to state and describe in a single sentence the victory Christianity has won over the world or, even more correctly, the victory by which it has more than overcome the world169(since Christianity has never wanted to conquer in a worldly way), infinity’s change that Christianity has as its aim, by which everything indeed remains as it was (since Christianity has never been a friend of the trumpery of novelty) and yet in the sense of infinity has become completely new—then I know of nothing shorter but also nothing more decisive than this: it has made...

      • IV Our Duty to Love the People We See
        (pp. 154-174)

        Howdeeplythe need of love is rooted in human nature! The first remark, if we dare to say so, that was made about humanity and that was made by the only one who could truly make it, by God, and about the first human being, says just this. We read in Holy Scripture, “God said, it is not good for the man to be alone.”190So the woman wastakenfrom the man’s side andgivento him for companionship—because love and life together first take something away from a person before they give. Throughout all ages everyone...

      • V Our Duty to Remain in Love’s Debt to One Another
        (pp. 175-204)

        Many different attempts have been made to characterize and describe how love is felt by someone in whom it is, the state oflove, or what it is to love. Love has been called a feeling, a mood, a life, a passion; yet since this is such a general definition, attempts have been made to define it more precisely. Love has been called a want, but, note well, such a want that the lover continually wants what he actually possesses—a longing, but, note well, continually for what the lover actually has—since otherwise it is indeed unhappy love that is...

    • Second Series
      • PREFACE
        (pp. 207-208)
        S. K.
      • I Love Builds Up
        (pp. 209-224)

        All human speech, even the divine speech of Holy Scripture, about the spiritual is essentially metaphorical [overført,carried over] speech. And this is quite in order or in the order of things and of existence, since a human being, even if from the moment of birth he is spirit, still does not become conscious of himself as spirit until later and thus has sensately-psychically acted out a certain part of his life prior to this. But this first portion is not to be cast aside when the spirit awakens any more than the awakening of the spirit in contrast to...

      • II Love Believes All Things—and Yet Is Never Deceived
        (pp. 225-245)

        “So faith, hope, and love abide, these three, but the greatest among these is love,”24which therefore is also the ground of all things, is before all things, and remains when all else is abolished. Love is therefore “the greatest” among “these,” but the one that in the sense of perfection (and what greater perfection is there for comparison than faith and hope!) is the greatest must also be able to take upon itself the function of the subordinates, if I may put it this way, and make it even more perfect. In a worldly way someone may at times...

      • III Love Hopes All Things—and Yet Is Never Put to Shame
        (pp. 246-263)

        In many metaphors and by many representations, Holy Scripture seeks in various ways to give, through the relationship to the eternal, festivity and solemnity to this earthly life of ours, to provide air and a prospect. And this is certainly needful. When the God-forsaken worldliness of earthly life shuts itself in with itself in complacency, the confined air develops poison in itself and by itself And when in temporality time in a certain sense drags on so slowly and yet so slyly swiftly that one never with concentrated attentiveness becomes aware of its vanishing, or when the moment gets stuck...

      • IV Love Does Not Seek Its Own
        (pp. 264-279)

        No, love does not seek its own, because to seek its own is simply self-love, selfishness, self-seeking, or whatever other names the unloving disposition has. And yet, is God not Love? But he who created man in his image52so that he might be like him, might become perfect as he is perfect,53and thus attain the perfection that is God’s own, be like the image that is God’s own—does he not seek his own? Indeed, he seeks his own, which is love; he seeks it by giving all things. God is good, and there is only one who...

      • V Love Hides a Multitude of Sins
        (pp. 280-299)

        The temporal has three periods and therefore does not ever actually exist completely or exist completely in any of them; the eternal is. A temporal object can have many various characteristics, in a certain sense can be said to have them simultaneously insofar as it is what it is in these specific characteristics. But a temporal object never has redoubling [Fordoblelse] in itself;75just as the temporal vanishes in time, so also it is only in its characteristics. When, however, the eternal is in a human being, this eternal redoubles in him in such a way that every moment it...

      • VI Love Abides
        (pp. 300-314)

        Yes, praise God, love abides! Then whatever the world may take away from you, though it be the most cherished, then whatever may happen to you in life, however you may come to suffer in your striving for the good that you will, if people turn indifferently away from you or against you as enemies, if everyone disowns you or is ashamed to admit what he owed to you, if even your best friend were to deny you—yet if in any of your strivings, in any of your actions, in any of your words you truly have had love...

      • VII Mercifulness, a Work of Love Even If It Can Give Nothing and Is Able to Do Nothing
        (pp. 315-330)

        “Do not forget to do good and to share”102—but do not forget either that this incessant talk by worldliness about beneficence and benevolence and generosity and charitable donations and gift upon gift is almost merciless. Ah, let the newspaper writers and tax collectors and the parish beadles talk about generosity and count and count; but let us never ignore that Christianity speaksessentiallyof mercifulness, that Christianity would least of all be guilty of mercilessness, as if poverty and misery not only needed money etc. but also were excluded from the highest, from being able to practice mercifulness, because...

      • VIII The Victory of the Conciliatory Spirit in Love, Which Wins [vinde] the One Overcome [Overvundne]
        (pp. 331-344)

        119“To continue to stand after having overcome everything” (Ephesians 6:13)! But is this not rather easy; does it not follow as a matter of course that one continues to stand, or remains standing, when one has overcome everything? When one actually has overcome everything, what then would be able to pull one down? If one actually has overcome everything, then is there anything more against which one has to continue to stand? Ah, the tried and tested apostle certainly knows what he is talking about! It is self-evident that someone who cowardly and fearfully never ventures out into danger never...

      • IX The Work of Love in Recollecting One Who Is Dead
        (pp. 345-358)

        If in one way or another a person is afraid of being unable to maintain an overview of something that is multifarious and prolix, he tries to make or acquire a brief summary of the whole for the sake of a full view. For example, death is the briefest summary of life, or life traced back to its briefest form.130This is also why it has always been very important to those who truly think about human life to test again and again, with the help of the brief summary, what they have understood about life. No thinker grasps life as...

      • X The Work of Love in Praising Love
        (pp. 359-374)

        137“To say it is no art, but to do it is.” This is a proverbial remark that is quite true if one sensibly excludes the instances and situations in which the art actually is “to say it.” It would surely be strange if someone were to deny that the poet’s art is “to say it,” since not everyone can sayit,which the poet saysin such a waythat in just that way he shows that he is a poet. This is partially true also of the speaker’s art.

        But with regard to love, it is neither partially nor...

        (pp. 375-386)

        In this book we have endeavored “many times and in many ways”176to praise love. As we thank God that we have succeeded in completing the book in the way we wished,177we shall now conclude by introducing the Apostle John, who says, “Beloved, let us love one another.”178179These words, which have apostolic authority, also have, if you consider them, an intermediate tone or an intermediate mood in connection with the contrasts in love itself. The basis of this is that they are by one who was perfected in love. You do not hear the rigorousness of duty in...

      (pp. 388-389)
    • Original Title Pages of Works if Love, First and Second Series
      (pp. 390-394)
      (pp. 395-488)

      All true love is grounded in this, that one loves another in a third—all the way from the lowest stage, for example, where they love one another in a third, to the Christian doctrine that the brothers should love one another in Christ. —JPIII 2380 (Pap. II A 24)n.d.,1837

      If there were no higher individuality in whom the single individual rests and through whom spiritual reciprocity is realized, the same would happen with individuality in this love as happened at one time with Catholics and Protestants who disputed and persuaded one another: namely, the one would become...