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Kierkegaard Studies Yearbook

Ed. by Schulz, Heiko / Stewart, Jon / Verstrynge, Karl

In cooperation with Sajda, Peter

CiteScore 2017: 0.06

SCImago Journal Rank (SJR) 2017: 0.100
Source Normalized Impact per Paper (SNIP) 2017: 0.131

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Selfless Passion: Kierkegaard on True Love

Ingolf U. Dalferth
Published Online: 2013-10-24 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/kier.2013.2013.1.159


In the Works of Love Kierkegaard answers the question what love is not by distinguishing types of love or by outlining cases or instances of how love occurs in human life (a descriptive approach) but by exploring what must be true for love to be at all (normative approach). Thus, he offers not a descriptive or conceptual but rather a hermeneutical and orienting account of love. Love as an orienting ought is sheer activity, always present, and therefore a mode of life rather than one particular activity among others. Living in this mode means loving others as a selfless self-but this can only be done when we are enabled to see ourselves and our neighbors not only as selves and other selves but as we are seen by God: as God’s neighbors. The upshot of Kierkegaard’s hermeneutical account of love is that love cannot be fully understood as a (reciprocal or onesided) I-you-relationship. Rather, such a relationship is a relationship of love only if and insofar as love-and therefore God-as the middle term enables two selves to fully relate in a you-you-relationship, a relation of true love.

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Published Online: 2013-10-24

Published in Print: 2013-10-01

Citation Information: Kierkegaard Studies Yearbook, Volume 2013, Issue 1, Pages 159–180, ISSN (Online) 1612-9792, ISSN (Print) 1430-5372, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/kier.2013.2013.1.159.

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