Love’s Telos: Kierkegaard’s Critique of Preferential Love
Daniel Watts (University of Essex)

October 17, 2019, 11:00am - 1:00pm
School of Philosophy and Art History, University of Essex

Wivenhoe Park
Colchester CO4 3SQ
United Kingdom


University of Essex

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Love’s Telos: Kierkegaard’s Critique of Preferential Love


Kierkegaard’s Works of Love is often associated with a harshly dismissive stance toward ordinary human love, as measured against an ascetic ideal of pure, Christian, non-preferential love. Despite a number of recent attempts to give it a sympathetic hearing, the worry persists that this text denigrates most what we ordinarily call love in ways that are extreme and implausible. My own view is that, on a standard, moralizing reading of Works of Love, this sort of complaint cannot be adequately answered. However, I believe that the moralizing reading misrepresents the overall structure of Kierkegaard’s critique and misses its internal character. My main aim in this talk will be to clarify the structure of Kierkegaard’s argument and to develop an alternative interpretative framework. I hope to indicate why stock criticisms miss their target and how this text offers a cogent overall contribution to the philosophy of love. 

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