Friday, 15 July 2016

Works of Love by Soren Kierkegaard

Works of Love by Soren Kierkegaard
1.Title                Works of Love
2.Author             Soren Kierkegaard
3.Publisher         Harper Perennial Modern Thought
4.Translator        Howard and Edna Hong
5.Foreword        Georgr  Pattison
4.Copyright        Howard Hong @1962
5.ISBN               978-0-06-171327-9
6.Format             Paper Bound
7.Page Count      378
8.Price                US $ 15.99
9.Genre              Philosophy
10.Rating           *****
                George Pattison   of Oxford University in his Foreword of July 2008  says: ”Works of Love is a book to be read and reread , pondered and  practiced. . . .It is a kind of  book that can change your life. Read it –but then ‘go and do likewise’ “.I totally agree with Pattison’s words of advice.
              The book is divided into two parts.Part One  deals with the three types of love .Erotic  love , Friendship , and  love for your neighbour. Obviously , the first two are preferential while the third is equal for all neighbours. The first two are by our choice while the third in a mandate ;”You shall love your neighbour”.
               Part Two deals with  what are the Works of Love that one is expected to do .
As the headings of various chapters in Part Two suggest , the list of Works of Love is as below :
1.Love Builds Up.
2.Love  Believes All Things  and Yet Is Never Deceived.
3.Love Hopes All Things  and Yet Is Never Put to Shame.
4.Love Seeks Not Its Own.
5.Love Hides  the Multiplicity of Sins.
6.Love Abides.
7.Mercifulness a Work of Love,Even if It Can Give Nothing And Is Capable of Doing Nothing.
8.The Victory of Reconciliation  in Love  Which Wins the Vanquished.
9.The Work of Love in  Remembering  One Dead.
10.The Work of Love in Praising Love.
 Soren Kierkegaard in his preface  of 1847 says that  “These are Christian  reflections;therefore they are not about love  but about the works of love.”Also “no act can be pleasing there  unless it is an act of love.”
He says that one must believe in love .The presumptuous practicality wants to deny the existence of love .In Christianity , to love is duty and erotic love , friendship  are really another form of self-love.”But the road to hell is paved with good intentions”.
                    The love relationship is a triangular relationship  of the lover , the beloved , love (but love is God.).Therefore to love another person  means to help him  to love God  .To be loved means to be helped to love God. Love is a matter of conscience and it is so only when  love is from a clean heart and out of sincere faith. Christianity has indifference towards friendship.
                        To love a person just as you see him , with all his imperfections and weaknesses, when he is utterly changed , when he no longer loves you.To love is to remain in infinite debt;the infinitude of the debt is the bond of perfection.Owe no man  anything . But nevertheless , be in debt of love to one another.
The ten types of works of love above   that Kierkegaard has listed are  explained as below :
1.Love  builds up. It is patient and willing to serve. Love builds up by pre-supposing that love is present in the other person .
2.Love believes all things. To believe nothing is the beginning of being evil since  faith is precisely the good in a man , which does not come through great knowledge.
3.Love hopes all things. Never in  unlovingness give up a person  or give up hope for him , for it is possible that  even the most prodigal  son can still be saved , for it is possible that  the most embittered enemy , alas , he who was your friend , it is still possible that he can again become your friend ;it is possible that  he can be raised up again; it is still possible that  the love which has  turned cold can burn again—therefore , never give up any man , not even at the last moment; do not despair. No, hope all things! Hope all things ;give up no man , for to give him up  is to abandon  your love for him –and if you do not give it up , then you hope. But if you abandon your love for him , then you yourself cease to be a lover.
4. Love seeks not its own .For the true lover does not love his own individuality. Quite the opposite, in others he loves “their own”. The lover has understood that  in truth the greatest , the only benediction one man  can accomplish for another is to help him stand alone , to become himself , to become his own.
5.Love hides the multiplicity of sins .Lover does not attempt to discover any sins in the  other .He shuns slander, back-biting , rumour , gossip , scandal-mongering and manufacture of lies. He hides other’s sin in silence , in a mitigating explanation , in forgiveness. The best way to hide the sins is by forgiveness .Forgiveness takes vitality away from sin; but to withhold   forgiveness  nourishes sin .True lover  forgives, he forgets ,he blots out sin. Forgive and you will also be forgiven .The forgiveness which you give ,  you also receive.
6. Love abides. Love never fails. There is no misunderstanding which sooner or later  will not be  conquered by  his abiding, there is no hate that  ultimately  will not have to give up  and yield to his abiding—in eternity if not sooner. In erotic love , one cannot be  unconditionally faithful. Therefore the erotic love does not abide ;it is not eternal.
7. Mercifulness is a work of love , even if it has nothing to give and is able to do nothing .
8. The victory of reconciliation in love .Work of love is to   set the other free  from being humiliated , to set him free  from thinking dejectedly about the forgiveness which he needs.
9.The work of love in remembering one who is dead, is a work of the most unselfish love , the most faithful love .The one dead is not the one who changes ,it is the one living who changes. Remember one dead  and learn  in just this way  to love the living disinterestedly , freely and faithfully.
10. The work of love in praising love .In order to be able to truly praise love , there is a need for inward  self-denial  and outward  sacrificial disinterestedness.
  Kierkegaard concludes as follows: ”To love human beings is still the only thing  worth living for .;without love , you really do not live; to love human beings is also the only  salutary consolation  of both time and eternity.” Love is one of the central aspects of existence  And also, ”Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye?” Avoid speaking the wrongs of others towards you , about the speck in your brother’s eye .

 I admire Kierkegaard for his remarkable depth and clarity. He was undoubtedly  one of the great thinkers of 19th century , and the greatest Philosopher  born in Denmark. He has demonstrated in this book that  love saves us from isolation  and unites us with one another and with God. The ten major types of works of love and their essence  help us to realise the meaning of love. For those who like serious reading , I recommend this book .It has the potential to change the lives of its readers.