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.
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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.
All other love, whether, humanly speaking, it withers early and is changed, or cherished it endures throughout the temporal existence, is nevertheless perishable, it merely blooms. In this lies precisely its fragility and its sadness; whether it blossoms for an hour or for seventy years, it merely blossoms.
But Christian love is eternal. Therefore no man who understands himself would think of saying of Christian love that it blossoms. No poet who understands himself would think of celebrating Christian love in song.
For that which the poet sings must contain the sadness which is his own life's mystery: it must bloom-and, alas, it must perish. But the Christian love abides, and just for that reason it is: for what blooms perishes, and what perishes blooms, but what is cannot be sung, it must be believed and it must be lived.
However, when one says that love is known by its fruits, then one also says that love itself in a certain sense is in secret, and just because of this secrecy it can only be known by its manifest fruits. This is absolutely true.
Every life, including the life of love, is hidden, but is revealed in another way. The life of the plant is hidden, the fruit is its manifestation. The life of thought is hidden, its expression in speech is its revelation. The sacred words we read have a twofold meaning, while concealingly they speak only of one; obviously the statement contained one thought, but secretly it also contained another. Whence comes love? Where is its source and its wellspring? Where is the secret place from which it issues?
There is a place in the heart of man; from this place issues the life of love, for "out of the heart are the issues of life. Even when you push farthest in, the source is always on beyond, like the source of the fountain which just when you are nearest is farther away.
From this place love issues forth in manifold ways; but by none of these ways can you penetrate its hidden source. As God dwells in a light from which every ray of light which illumines the world issues, yet by none of these ways can a man enter in order to see God; for the way of light changes to darkness if one faces toward the light : so love dwells in secret, or is hidden in the heart.
As the spring-fed mountain stream by the murmuring persuasiveness of its rippling entices, almost begs, a man to follow it along its course, and not inquisitively try to force his way to its source and reveal its hidden secret; as the rays of the sun invite men by their radiance to behold the glories of the world, but reprovingly punish the presumptuous man with blindness if he inquisitively and audaciously faces about to discover the source of the light; as faith invitingly volunteers to be man's companion on the way of life, but petrifies the one who impudently turns around in order to try to understand it: so it is love's wish and prayer that its secret source and its hidden life in the heart may remain a secret; that no one inquisitively and impudently shall try to force himself in disturbingly in order to see that which nevertheless he cannot see, but whose happiness and blessing he may certainly forfeit through his curiosity.
It always causes the most painful suffering when the surgeon in operating is obliged to cut into the more vital and therefore the more secret parts of the body; so there is also the most painful suffering, and also the most demoralizing, when someone, instead of rejoicing in the manifestations of love, wishes to gratify himself by scrutinizing the love itself, that is, by disturbing it.
Love's secret life is in the heart, unfathomable, and it also has an unfathomable connection with the whole of existence.
As the peaceful lake is grounded deep in the hidden spring which no eye can see, so a man's love is grounded even deeper in the love of God. If there were at bottom no wellspring, if God were not love, then there would be no quiet lake or human love.
As the quiet lake is grounded darkly in the deep spring, so is human love mysteriously grounded in God's love. As the quiet lake invites you to look at it, but by its dark reflection prevents your looking down through it, so the mysterious origin of love in the love of God prevents you from seeing its source; if you think you see it, then you are deceived by a reflection, as if that which merely conceals the deeper source were the true source. So the life of love is hidden; but its secret life is itself in motion and has eternity in it.
As the quiet lake, however placidly it lies, is really running water-for is there not a wellspring at bottom? But the quiet lake can become dry if its source sometime fails; the life of love, on the contrary, has an eternal wellspring.
This life is fresh and everlasting; no cold can chill it, it is too fervent for that; and no heat can exhaust it, its coolness is too fresh for that. But it is hidden. Yet this hidden life of love is recognizable by its fruits; moreover, it is a necessity of love that it should be known by its fruits. Oh, how beautiful it is that this word which indicates the greatest wretchedness at the same time indicates the greatest wealth!
To need, to have need and to be needy, how reluctant a man is to have this said about him! And yet we are expressing the highest praise when we say of a poet that he needs to write; of an orator that he needs to speak; of a girl that she needs to love.
Ahfough,;t'nd -never felt the need of anything! Ask them, 1rsk the maiden if she could feel equally happy if she could get along just as well without the beloved; ask the devout if he understands or wishes that he could get along just as well without God! So it is with the recognition of love by its fruits, which precisely, therefore, if the relationship is right, is said to press forward, whereby again its richness is indicated.
This might also cause the greatest agony if it were really true that in love itself there could be the selfcontradiction that love commanded it be kept hidden, commanded that it should be unrecognizable. Would that not be as if the plant which felt the vigorous life and blessing of fertility, dared not let it be known, acted as if the blessing were a curse, kept it to itself, alas, as the secret of its inexplicable withering! Therefore it is not true. For even if a single particular expression of love, if a love affair, were pushed back by love in a painful concealment: the same life of love would nevertheless produce a new expression of love, and would still be known by its fruits.
Oh, ye quiet martyrs of an unhappy love I What you suffered from a 10 WORKS OF LOVE love that must conceal a love indeed remained a secret; you never revealed it, such was the greatness of your love that made this sacrifice : and yet your love was known by its fruits!
And perhaps just those fruits became precious, those which were matured by the quiet burning of a secret pain.
The tree is known by its fruits; for a tree is also known by its leooes but the fruit still affords the essential knowledge. If you, therefore, identified a tree by its leaves as being that particular tree, but in the time of fruit you discovered that it did not bear fruit, then you would know from this that it was not the tree it appeared to be from its leaves.
This is true 'also concerning the recognition of love. The apostle John says, "My little children, let us not love in word or in tongue, but.
For words and expressions and the inventions of language can also afford a knowledge of love, but they are not reliable. The same words in the mouth of one person can be so rich, so trustworthy, which in the mouth of another can be like the vague whisper of the leaves. The same words which in the mouth of one can be like the "blessed nourishing corn," in the mouth of another can be like the unfruitful beauty of the leaves.
But because of this you must not restrain the words any more than you must conceal the visible emotion when it is genuine. For one may ungenerously wrong a man if one withholds from him that which is his due. Your friend, your beloved, your child, or whoever is the object of your affection, has also a right to an expression of this affection in words, if your heart truly prompts you. The emotion is not your own possession, but it belongs to the other; its expression is his due, since you in your emotion belong to him who causes that emotion, and who is conscious that you belong to him.
When the heart is full you must not enviously, arrogantly, unfairly to the other, injure him by silently compressing the lips; you must let your mouth speak out of the heart's abundance. You should not be ashamed of your feelings, and even less of honestly giving everyone his due. But one must not love in words and forms of speech, nor should one recognize love in this way.
On the contrary, one will know by such fruits, or by the fact that there are only leaves, that love has not yet reached its growing season. Sirach says warningly : "If you devour your leaves you will drop your fruit and leave yourself standing like a dry tree. Consequently immature and deceptive love is known by the fact that words and verbal expressions are its only fruit.
For love certainly issues from the heart; but let us not, in considering this, forget that eternal truth that love plants the heart.
Every man knows the fugitive impulses of an irresolute heart, but the impulses of the natural heart are infinitely different from planting the heart in the sense of the eternal. And how seldom is this true that eternity acquires so much authority over a man that the love in him is able to establish itself everlastingly, or truly to plant the heart. However, this is the condition essential for bearing love's own fruit by which it is known.
As the love itself is invisible, a man must therefore believe in it; so it is not to be known simply and unconditionally by any of its expressions as such. There is no word in the human language, not a single one, not the most sacred, about which we are able to say: "If a man uses this word it unconditionally proves that he has love. There is no act, not a single one, not the best, about which we unconditionally dare to say: "He who does this proves unconditionally that he loves.
There are, we know, deeds which in a special sense are called acts of charity. But truly, because one gives alms, because one visits the widow and clothes the naked, one's love is not thereby proved or even recognizable. For one can perform acts of charity in an unkind, moreover, even in a selfish way, and when this is the case, the act of charity is not a work of love.
You have certainly very frequently seen this distressing sight ; you have perhaps caught yourself doing what every honest man must confess about himself, just because he is not unkind and hardened enough to overlook the essential thing, you have caught yourself forgetting in what you do, how you do it.
Alas, Luther may have said that not one single time in his whole life had he prayed absolutely undisturbed by any irrelevant thoughts; so too the honest man acknowledges that however often and however many times he willingly and gladly gave alms, he never did it except imperfectly, perhaps influenced by some accidental impression, perhaps by a capricious partiality, perhaps to satisfy his conscience, perhaps with an averted face-but not in the scriptural sense without the left hand perhaps becoming conscious of it-but thoughtlessly, possibly thinking of his own sorrow-instead of thinking of the affliction of the 12 poor, possibly seeking personal relief through giving alms-instead of wishing to alleviate poverty: so the act of charity did not in the highest sense become a work of love.
Hence how the word is spoken, and above all how it is meant, hence how the act is performed: this is the decisive thing in determining and in recognizing love by its fruits. But here again the point is that there is nothing, no "thus," about which it can unconditionally be said that it unconditionally proves the presence of love, or that it unconditionally proves that love is not present. And yet it is certain that love must be known by its fruits.
But the sacred words of our text are not uttered for the purpose of encouraging us to occupy ourselves in judging one another; they are, on the contrary, spoken admonishingly to the individual to you, my hearer, and to me , in order to encourage him not to permit his love to become unfruitful, but to work so that it may be known by its fruits, whether others do recognize them or not.
For he certainly must not labor for the sake of having his love known by its fruits, but labor so that it may be known by its fruits; in this labor he must guard himself so that the recognition of the love does not become more important to him than the one thing needful: that it bear fruit, and hence may be known by its fruit.
One thing is true, whatever clever advice one may give a man, whatever precautions one can recommend to prevent being deceived by others, the Gospel demands something different and something far more important of the individual, that he bear in mind that a tree is known by its fruits, and that it is he or his love which the Gospel compares with a tree.
The Gospel does not say, as would the speech of the clever: "Some of you will know the tree by its fruits. What the prophet Nathan added to the parable, "Thou art the man," the Gospel did not need to add, since it is already evident in the form of the expression, and in the fact that it is the word of an evangelist.
For the divine authority of the Gospel does not speak to one man about another man, not to you, my hearer, about me, or to me about you. No, when the Gospel speaks, it speaks to the individual; it does not speak about us men, you and me, but it speaks to us men, you and me, and it speaks about the love that is known by its fruits.
If therefore some eccentric and fanatical, or hypocritical, person were to teach that love was such a secret emotion that it was too select to bear fruit, or so secret that its fruit neither proved anything for nor against it, moreover, that not even the poisonous fruit proved anything, then we should remember the Gospel words : the tree is known by its fruits.
For truly love shall be known by its fruits, but it does not therefore follow from this that you should presume to be the judge; the tree too must be known by its fruits, but it does not therefore follow from this that there is one tree which shall presume to judge the others; on the contrary, it is always the individual tree which must-bear fruit.
But a man should fear neither the one who can kill the body, nor the hypocrite. There is but One whom a man should fear, that is God; and there is but one for whom a man should fear, that is himself.
Truly one who in fear and trembling before God feared for himself, has never been deceived by hypocrisy. But he who busied himself in tracking down hypocrites, whether he succeeded or not, must vigilantly watch to see that this too is not hypocrisy; for such discoveries are still hardly the fruits of love. On the other hand, the one whose love in truth bears its own fruit will involuntarily and unwittingly expose every hypocrite who comes near him, or else he will make him ashamed; but the lover will perhaps not even be conscious of this.
The most mediocre defense against hypocrisy is shrewdness ; moreover it is scarcely a defense, rather a dangerous proximity; the best defense against hypocrisy is love; and it is not merely a defense but a yawning chasm; through all eternity it has nothing to do with hypocrisy. And this is also a fruit by which love is known, in that it assures the lover against falling into the snare of hypocrisy. But even if it is true that love is known by its fruits, let us not in our love for one another impatiently, suspiciously, condemningly, perpetually ask to see the fruits.
The first point we developed in this discourse was that we must believe in love, otherwise we simply do not know that it exists; but now the discourse returns to that first point and says repeatedly: believe in love I This is the first and the last thing there is to say about love, if one wishes to know; but the first time it was said to oppose the impudent common sense which wished to deny the existence of love; now, on the contrary, after having explained its recognition by its fruits, it is said to oppose the sickly, timid, fastidious narrow-mindedness which in petty and wretched mistrust wishes to see the fruits.
Do not forget that it would be a beautiful, a noble, a sacred fruit by which the love in your heart became recogttizable, if in your relations to another man, whose love perhaps bore poorer fruit, you were loving enough to see his love as more beautiful than it was.
God that eats, drinks and then goes to have an afternoon sleep?! This is an absurd. Religious faith is not a matter of knowing anything, proving or disproving that God exists; indeed even if there were any empirical or historical proofs for the existence of Christ these would not suffice to make anyone to convert in anyway. In order to address this difficulty Kierkegaard makes a strategic use of irony as a stylistic program with his communication with the reader. Aviva Barak. Due to the limited scope of this paper I cannot explore here the subtleties and complexities that arise from referring to irony in tandem with this book.
Written in the style of confessional autobiography The Point of View seems to undermine the ideal of the Socratic maieutic method which characterizes the early aesthetic works. There, Kierkegaard makes an extensive use of irony, pseudonyms and multiple meanings—all aim at distancing Kierkegaard from the position of an ultimate author, thereby transferring the burden of truth-work to the reader.
In The Point of View Kierkegaard argues that all the paradoxes of the early pseudonymous works cancel each other out and lead, similar to how the stages of existence supposed to unfold, to Kierkegaard himself as a religious writer. With regards to irony I am inspired by Holm, Isak Winkel. Monstrous Aesthetics. In: Nineteenth-Century Prose, No. In what follows I shall demonstrate how Kierkegaard programmatically applies irony as the form of his writing by exploring his notion of the good life i.
As we shall see in the following, Kierkegaard lays an argument for death as an experience that is logically or objectively inevitable or necessary and yet utterly nonsensical and ineffable—an absurd.
However, it will be by virtue of this failure that a way could be shown to a validation of the eternal that is fundamentally incommensurable with reason, language and even imagination. In other words, the affirmation of the infinite will not consist of discrete content of thought; on the contrary, it will consist in running against the limitations of thinking and language, forcing a crisis in thought and the advancement of passion. Therefore, if we understand what it means to die—so goes the line of thought—we will be in a better place to comprehend what it means to be alive.
Are we in place to conceptualize nothingness, to give it expression in language? CUP, As Eric Dodson explains, by objective truth Climacus refers to what we normally associate with empirical observation such as in the case of the natural sciences or logical inference such as in formal logic and mathematics. Butler, Judith. In Routledge History of Philosophy. The Age of German Idealism, vol. Robert C. Solomon, Kathleen Marie Higgin Eds. NY: Routledge.
Thus knowledge about life must be able to contradict itself and re-invent its own definition again and again, repeatedly and endlessly, what Kierkegaard calls repetition. WL 31, IX Logically, then, what applies to all human beings would also apply to me.
The objective truth of my mortality is consequently grounded in a combination of empirical observation and logical inference. The truth of death has nothing to do with accumulating knowledge about the objective meaning of death; I can collect statistical facts on death, explore various studies, books, articles and magazines on death, read literary works or inspect terminally ill people while they take their last breath — all of these will never take me even one small step further in grasping the meaning of death.
The failure of the objective truth of mortality lies in its blindness to the essential evil of death, namely that the possibility of death consists in a possibility for me at any given moment in the presence. The objective meaning of death abstracts from any subjective concern and seeks instead its source of meaning in externality, in the inter-personal realm; hence Climacus infers, it is governed by consensus, what he associates with the ordinary and the everyday, or culture.
The subjective experience of mortality does not provide more certainty than the objective one; it rather signifies an intimate relationship with doubt that only deepens the uncertainty.
While death consists of a possibility for me in every given moment, the question of what it means to exist needs to be repeatedly posed, every moment anew, again and again.
Nor am I for myself some such thing in general. Therefore it becomes more and more important to me to think it into every moment of my life, because, since its uncertainty is at every moment, this uncertainty is vanquished only by my vanquishing it every moment. Yet how can one be in the truth if one no longer exists? Death is a necessary, inevitable event of human life and yet as a possibility it always remains transcendent to actuality, that is, an unrealized possibility.
There is no mediation, synthesis and progress and a sublimation of the subjective and objective viewpoints of death: while the objective viewpoint of mortality does not provide certainty, the subjective standpoint only deepens more and more the uncertainty.
The meaning of mortality marks the limitation of experience itself, an inexplicable experience to which we can only come near but never trespass, an objective uncertainty. Stated otherwise, the experience of death is inevitable and yet ineffable—nonsense, or a necessary impossibility. Rather than following the Hegelian model of dialectic, Kierkegaard adopts a strategy of temptation toward his reader, he works similar to Wittgenstein: he provides thinking a ladder in order to overcome the contradictions that inhere experience, yet once all contradictions have seen to be resolved the ladder is thrown away.
The Duty to Love, an impossible necessity We saw in the above that death forms an experience that is inevitable and yet impossible. Oddly enough, Kierkegaard would have to enunciate the obscure assertion that death is not the chronologically last event in human life; the paradox namely that I will die, and then rise from the dead; that my son or beloved ones will be taken away from me — and yet they will be brought back to life.
According to Epicurus, the meaning of death and the anxiety that is entailed by its uncertainty should not concern us simply because once we die we no longer exist.
That is, in me being conscious of death. More so, Kierkegaard maintains that it is this capability of fearing death which tells human beings and animals apart. In other words, death is not only something that comes after the end of physical life.
The possibility of death coexist with life, it consists in an unrealized possibility that haunts every moment of the present the possibility of death is while I still am.
The German is in the original. The Concept of Dread. Walter Lowrie Trans. Princeton University Press. Instead, they suggest to translate finitude Endeligheden which appears in the SV first. Anderson Trans. Nussbaum, Martha C. The objective truth of mortality, just as philosophy, always seeks to avoid the uncertainty that is involved in the random nature of human existence whereas death consists of a possibility that threatens me in every moment of the present.
Metaphysics constantly tries to constrain the infinite movement of becoming by constituting an enduring shelter of essence, or identity, upon which all knowledge is supposed be erected. CUP, , How then can Christian faith be determined? In the name of faith, Abraham was ready to sacrifice his son. Caputo, John. Radical Hermeneutics.
Indiana University Press. For example, the chances that I will be run over by a car on a nice spring sunny day while I am crossing the road near my house. Rather, it is the nonsensicality of death, the fact that I can die in every given moment without having any warning, explanation or justification that conditions my relation to existence in the first place.
See also in WL , IX Zachman, however, follows the reading of the Dane which emphasizes the subjective relationship with God over and above ethical commitment. My reading by contrast suggests that Christian love poses to us an infinite debt.
Zachman, Randall C. John Balserak and Richard Snoddy [Eds. In other words, the suffering as the upshot of the infinite-qualitative abyss that separates me from the Lord is a non-removable fact of existence, just as my self-love is something natural and necessary. That is,. On the contrary, faith requires that I acknowledge that my state of separateness and difference from myself, God and everyone else is not the exception but rather the real itself.
That is, rather than scarifying a discrete, finite object the beloved , Kierkegaard asks whether we are in place to sacrifice our relation to actuality as something finite—whether we can be weaned off the human desire for certainty, or an ultimate ground.
In place of providing certainty, Kierkegaard delineates the strategies and tactics individuals employ on themselves in order to constantly repress, deny or ignore the uncertainty that is involved by the state of guilt before God, as it is manifested by the whimsical nature of time, or fate. Christian love to the contrary acknowledges that all human kinship signifies also, simultaneously, the possibility of a withdrawal, or loss of the beloved.
That is, Christian love entails an unfathomable paradox: it re-figures the ethical demand by requiring one to love indifferently, each and every other, without making distinctions.
See in Patrinos, Kostas. Kierkegaards Sorge um die Welt. At a Graveside. In Three Discourses on Imagined Occasions. Quoted in Piper, Henry B.