Kierkegaard and the Problem of Self-Love

Kierkegaard and the Problem of Self-Love

by John Lippitt


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The problem of whether we should love ourselves - and if so how - has particular resonance within Christian thought, and is an important yet underinvestigated theme in the writings of Søren Kierkegaard. In Works of Love, Kierkegaard argues that the friendships and romantic relationships which we typically treasure most are often merely disguised forms of 'selfish' self-love. Yet in this nuanced and subtle account, John Lippitt shows that Kierkegaard also provides valuable resources for responding to the challenge of how we can love ourselves, as well as others. Lippitt relates what it means to love oneself properly to such topics as love of God and neighbour, friendship, romantic love, self-denial and self-sacrifice, trust, hope and forgiveness. The book engages in detail with Works of Love, related Kierkegaard texts and important recent studies, and also addresses a wealth of wider literature in ethics, moral psychology and philosophy of religion.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781107035614
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Publication date: 04/30/2013
Pages: 222
Product dimensions: 5.98(w) x 8.98(h) x 0.55(d)

About the Author

John Lippitt is Professor of Ethics and Philosophy of Religion at the University of Hertfordshire. His publications include Humour and Irony in Kierkegaard's Thought (2000) and The Routledge Philosophy Guidebook to Kierkegaard and Fear and Trembling (2003, 2nd edition forthcoming). Lippitt is editor of Nietzsche's Futures (1999), and co-editor of Nietzsche and the Divine (with Jim Urpeth, 2000) and The Oxford Handbook of Kierkegaard (with George Pattison, 2013).

Table of Contents

1. Introduction: how should I love myself?; 2. Cracking the mirror: friendship and the problem of self-love; 3. Self-love in Works of Love: explicit references; 4. The problem of special relationships: self-love's wider context; 5. Another take on self-love: an excursus on Harry Frankfurt; 6. Love's blank cheques: on self-denial and its limitations; 7. Towards a more positive account of self-love, I: trust and hope; 8. Towards a more positive account of self-love, II: self-forgiveness and self-respect; 9. An immodest proposal: a coda on rehabilitating pride; 10. Summary and conclusion.

What People are Saying About This

Advance praise: 'This is the most important book on Kierkegaard and love to appear since Jamie Ferreira's classic Love's Grateful Striving; in particular, it offers the most detailed treatment available on the notion of proper self-love in Works of Love. This work also brings Kierkegaard directly into current debates in moral psychology regarding love for particular others such as family and friends, and their relation to forms of self-love. The discussions of forgiveness, including self-forgiveness and self-respect, are especially rewarding. Lippitt writes clearly and his analyses will be accessible to readers without a prior speciality in Kierkegaard, including anyone interested in theories of love and various forms of love in their own right - and especially in theological contexts.' John J. Davenport, Fordham University

'Building on the resources offered by Kierkegaard's Works of Love, John Lippitt adds a crucial voice to contemporary philosophical discussions of love, such as we find in the work of Frankfurt and many others. Readers to whom any mention of self-love brings to mind an objectionable kind of selfishness ought to be persuaded early in Lippitt's argument that the topic cannot be ignored by anyone seeking to understand moral life. Without knowing what it means to love oneself 'in the right way', as Kierkegaard puts it, we can neither interpret nor comply with the imperative to love the neighbor 'as thyself'.' Rick Furtak, Colorado College

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