Sunday, January 27, 2008
Kierkegaard, Bono and love.
In the middle of a tough weekend a friend gave me an article which contained some beautiful but painful truths. It is by Mike Austin in 'Philosophy Today'. He is writing about authentic love through the words of Soren Kierkegaard and Bono (my two favourite writers!). I'll try to summarise it so stop reading now if you don't want to be bored by me clumsily writing about love.
Kierkegaard claims that authentic love is not a mysterious feeling, a mood of the soul or an empty promise. It is 'sheer action'.
The work of Kierkegaard and Bono seems to agree that romantic/human love is founded in preference, inclination, impulse and passion. This love is only a form of self-love, not focused on the well-being of the other. This love is expecting even demanding something in return. I love so I'll be rewarded with her love, her care and her affection. If my love is based on my preferences or on the traits of the one I love and my preferences or their traits change then my love changes.
'I could never take the chance Of losing love to find romance, In the mysterious distance Between a man and a woman' (U2)
Their solution then is to base love with something more lasting and stable. Romantic love must be based in divine love to be authentic. Kierkegaard claims that we should conceive of love as a moral duty.
Love as a duty is rooted in the eternal. God is unchanging like our emotions so this is a more firm foundation for our love. We become committed to another as a matter of conscience. A duty to love one another. Three become one.
Love as a duty doesn't take away the freedom, impulses and passion of romance. It is more free because it does not change when the object of love changes. On our own we fail to persevere, we tire of the other person, we feel like moving on to someone else. But authentic love (love as a duty) binds us together and gives us courage, strength and wisdom to hold on to the one we love when love's counterfeits would fail.
If anyone is still reading that was a really crap synopsis but ask me for a copy if you would like to read it. It may help you to avoid the mistakes that I made.