Two forms of love: The problem of preferential love in Kierkegaard's Works of Love

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Abstract

The duty to love one's neighbor as oneself is at the core of Kierkegaard's Works of Love. In this book, Kierkegaard unfolds the meaning of neighborly love and claims that it is the only valid form of true love. He contrasts between neighborly love and preferential love (which includes romantic love and friendship) and criticizes the latter for being nothing but a form of selfishness. However, in some contexts, Kierkegaard seems to acknowledge the significance of preferential love relationships, and does not disallow them. Therefore, his understanding of preferential love appears to be confused and inconsistent. My essay discusses the tension in Kierkegaard's position regarding preferential love, and by presenting recent readings of Works of Love, it asks whether this tension is resolvable and offers a suggestion for a possible solution.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)595-617
Number of pages23
JournalJournal of Religious Ethics
Volume36
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 2008

Keywords

  • Faith
  • Kierkegaard
  • M. Jamie Ferreira
  • Neighborly love
  • Preferential love
  • Works of Love

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