Theology and Philosophy

Kierkegarrd's View of Love

Kierkegaard's Works of Love has been frequently criticized for an "inhuman" conception of love.  Kierkegaard emphasizes that every human person is a "neighbor" and also argues that neighbor love demands a kind of equality in loving.  Critics argue that such a view of love leaves no room for legitimate self-love or for "natural loves," such as friendship, which Kierkegaard criticizes in the book as disguised forms of self-love.  In this paper I will argue that Kierkegaard's conception of neighbor love does allow for legitimate forms of self-love and natural love for others.  The proper relation between neighbor love and natural loves is not opposition, but one in which neighbor love becomes the foundational component of the other kinds.