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Works of Love (Kierkegaard's Writings, Volume 16)

4.36  ·  Rating Details ·  1,144 Ratings  ·  98 Reviews

The various kinds and conditions of love are a common theme for Kierkegaard, beginning with his early Either/Or, through "The Diary of the Seducer" and Judge William's eulogy on married love, to his last work, on the changelessness of God's love. Works of Love, the midpoint in the series, is also the monumental high point, because of its penetrating, illuminating analysis

Paperback, 576 pages
Published March 23rd 1998 by Princeton University Press (first published 1847)
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Mere Christianity by C.S. LewisInstitutes of the Christian Religion, 2 Vols by John CalvinFear and Trembling by Søren KierkegaardConfessions by Augustine of HippoThe Holy Bible by Anonymous
Top 50 Seminary Books
18th out of 105 books — 34 voters
Mere Christianity by C.S. LewisInstitutes of the Christian Religion, 2 Vols by John CalvinThe Screwtape Letters by C.S. LewisOrthodoxy by G.K. ChestertonThe Cost of Discipleship by Dietrich Bonhoeffer
Top 25 Christian Thinkers
54th out of 182 books — 89 voters

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Community Reviews

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Xandri Fiori
Nov 17, 2014 Xandri Fiori rated it it was amazing
Always with philosophy, it's so easy to become contracted into the box of what the individual is capable of and to ignore the social aspect. What with everybody being in deep erotic love with Nietzsche, Christianity gets a bad rap. Granted, I only read this because Kierkegaard was an existentialist. But I honestly have grown to love him more than any other philosopher because he answers the question of other people. In my experience, most other philosophers are too scared to ask this question, m ...more
David Lentz
Apr 26, 2013 David Lentz rated it it was amazing
In his genius Kierkegaard wants us to know that by “works of love” he is describing the rigor of being a loving Christian. Kierkegaard advises that God wants us to love our neighbors, which Kierkegaard considers God’s “royal law.” Kierkegaard stresses this point three times with the emphasis on three different points: YOU shall love your neighbor. You SHALL LOVE your neighbor. You shall love YOUR NEIGHBOR. But who is your neighbor? Your neighbor is anyone whom you see. Your neighbor lives next t ...more
Feb 15, 2013 Daniel rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I finished Kierkegaard's text yesterday (Valentine's Day), the forwards today . . . if you care to know.

Though only about 350 pages, Works of Love is not easy reading. Well, I suppose it's easy in a way. There aren't many difficult concepts to grasp and in that way it's certainly not like The Concept of Anxiety. But the work seems long because Kierkegaard belabours certain points, points he no doubt believes essential, such as the neighbour, the difference between Christian and pagan love, and G
Oct 17, 2010 Sarah rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: theology, philosophy
I am usually an avid highlighter but the first essay from this collection had me so stunned with its relevancy to all of the things that had been knocking about in my head and heart for the past year or so*** that I didn't bother having a highlighter in my hand at any point in time that I was reading this book. Had I done so, I would have ended up with more text highlighted than not highlighted.

***I am admittedly all of these things: already a fan of Kierkegaard, already religious, and OK with
May 28, 2011 Dana rated it really liked it
Shelves: favorites
This book is certainly a long laborious read. However, I was able to push my way through it fairly quickly because all the ideas were so novel to me. I have not ventured very far into the theological realm, but this book breathes some seriously fresh and insightful life into the idea of "Loving thy neighbour as thyself." It also explores many different consequences and viewpoints of this idea.

I would recommend this book highly to anyone wishing to improve themselves and their relationships with
Jun 02, 2016 Genni rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: religion
Love. Where to start??

"The life of a plant is hidden, the fruit is the manifestation. Love itself is in a certain sense hiding and therefore can be known only by its revealing fruits."

The introduction perfectly sets the focus for this tome on love. Kierkegaard is concerned with the inner life of love, the mindsets towards others that we carry around, confident that if those are adjusted accordingly, the "fruit" of love will simply manifest itself. This would be contrary to a focus on doing more
Dec 14, 2014 Fariba rated it it was amazing
Works of Love, along with its companion Purity of Heart is to Will One Thing, is one of Kierkegaard's best works. Although this direct discourse is linguistically a lot easier to read than his pseudonymous works, it is (with respect to content) one of his most challenging pieces. The thesis is that it is a duty to love your neighbor. Throughout the 360 page book, Kierkegaard argues that the only disinterested and selfless form of love is love of neighbor. All other forms of love (erotic, friends ...more
Dec 11, 2010 Bill rated it it was amazing
Christian theology at its best. It is written philosophically, so anyone who is interested in philosophy, particularly existentialism, will enjoy it. I think anyone can find inspiration in the book, including people who aren't Christians.
Mar 28, 2013 Beatrice rated it it was amazing
Shelves: precious
A book so soft and delicate and tolerant and close to my heart, that I find it difficult to externalize any sort of detail about it. A book that has confirmed and reinforced my most ardent belief, the element that I appreciate the most when it comes to human relationships/interaction: the most important and the most beautiful thing that a human being can have/give is their heart ('the highest good is to love, then that of being loved').

Kierkegaard encourages us gently ('gently' being of high imp
"...the task is not: to find the lovable object; but the task is: to find the object already given or chosen--lovable, and to be able to continue finding him lovable, no matter how he becomes changed" (158).
Sep 26, 2014 Bob rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Works of Love is a searching exploration of the distinctive and demanding character of Christian love. It is not a "feel good" book but one that might leave you wondering whether you really have loved at all, or loved well.

Kierkegaard begins with the paradox of love's character as both hidden and yet bearing fruit in works of love. He then explores the great command to love neighbor as oneself. He plumbs the challenges of loving a neighbor in all the ways we love ourselves, and the fact that it
Erwet Sie
Jul 27, 2015 Erwet Sie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
One of the most beautiful books I've read. This book is novel, provocative and revolutionary. It's strenuous but gentle and mild at the same time. Kierkegaard breathes a new life to many Christian teachings most notably "You shall love your neighbor as yourself" (Matthew 22:39) which becomes the center piece of this book. If you think that Christian teaching has to be dogmatic, inflexible or forceful, try reading this book and you might be proven wrong. Such a beautiful book, not too hard to rea ...more
Oct 12, 2008 Ellen rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: catholicism
Kierkegaard expounds on the Christian idea of love, explaining exactly why love, in the Christian sense, has always been, and will remain, a grave offense to the world. Kierkegaard does not have an idea of love that is caressing or coddling; it contains "a sadness which broods over life and is tempered by the eternal." I found the chapters "Love is a Fulfilling of the Law" and "Love is a Matter of Conscience" to be especially enlightening. There was even some humor, though never snide or sarcast ...more
Jack Holden
Jan 03, 2015 Jack Holden rated it it was amazing
First philosophy book that I read at age 16.
Rebecca Davis
Jun 27, 2016 Rebecca Davis rated it it was amazing
Love is probably the hardest emotion to explain. Someone said to me once that hate and anger are the easiest things to feel when I really believe it. All this subject of hate and anger is all about people not getting enough love in their lives. They really do feel these things I think because they are jealous of something someone did or cannot believe that they cannot be them when it is intrinsic in us certain things that make an individual an individual. Hate and anger can also manifest just be ...more
JP Martinez
May 06, 2007 JP Martinez rated it it was amazing
Shelves: theology
Greatest Book I have ever Read.

Before anyone gets into a relationship of any kind, it would be imperative that they read this book with someone they love and talk about what it means for them to continue loving each other.
Oct 06, 2008 Jonathan rated it it was amazing
This book is phenomenal. Everyone should read it who needs to learn how to love others...and that's everyone. My favorite chapters are "Love Hopes All Things" and "Love Believes All Things". READ THIS BOOK!
Sarah Gutierrez
Oct 07, 2015 Sarah Gutierrez rated it it was amazing
A series of profound meditations on Christian love. If you never in your life read anything else by Kierkegaard, you should read this book. And then read it again.
Robert Foege

Below you will find a person of limited intelligence commenting on the writings of a burning genius. Consider yourself warned.

Kierkegaard is considered the father of existentialism. In a word, if I understand it correctly (and who really does understand existentialism?), this means that he was the first philosopher to incorporate into his philosophy the idea that life is happening right now, and cannot be treated like a static thing. Kierkegaard is a meticulous thinker who is both subtle
J. Mulrooney
Oct 02, 2014 J. Mulrooney rated it it was amazing
There are two Kierkegaards: the philosophical Kierkegaard of "Concluding Unscientific Postscript", "Philosophical Fragments" and others; and the more accessible, devotional Kierkegaard of the upbuilding discourses, "Purity of Heart is To Will One Thing", and this one, "Works of Love."

He's a terrific writer, but (in the philosophical works) a terrific pain in the butt -- always distancing himself from what he's saying. 'I didn't write this, these are the papers of A, found in an old desk'. Or he
May 20, 2014 Harry rated it it was amazing
Shelves: philosophy
Wow. Where to begin? Heavy stuff here, mostly on what it means to love from a Christian perspective.

I'll admit that it took me something like three years to read this book. I would start, get busy with something else, put it down, and start over again, fearful that I would miss something that was predicated on something discussed beforehand. The payoff is worth it though; by the end of the book I was ready to live my life differently than I had before. I'm not saying this book has made me perfec
May 14, 2013 Jacki rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It has been 10 long months digging through this book. I didn't want to rush through it (even if I could), but I never expected it to take this long.

I don't know if I should blame Kierkegaard or the translators for how difficult the reading was. Nothing was worded simply, and I'm not referring to how complex the philosophical ideas were behind the words. The philosophical complexities were a whole different matter. But the sentence structure and wording were never plain or simple, which made eve
Jun 24, 2016 Ari rated it really liked it
"To study love"

If you are interested in studying love, then the name Kierkgaard would be familiar to you. Great philosopher, a big body of work on love from the Christian perspective. A thick philosophical work of several hundred pages, many inspirations but unavoidably (especially when we laymen facing classical philosophical works) with some difficult/boring sections. I still like it a lot. I found Ilham Dilman's book "Love: Its Forms, Dimensions and Paradoxes" a good companion that provides s
Robert Høgh
Jul 14, 2015 Robert Høgh rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
”Man tager den christelige Ydmyghed og Selvfornegtelse forfængelig derved, at man vistnok fornegter sig selv i een Henseende, men ikke har Mod til at gjøre det afgjørende, hvorfor man passer paa at blive forstaaet i sin Ydmyghed og i sin Selvfornegtelse, saa man altså bliver agtet og æret for sin Ydmyghed og Selvfornegtelse – hvilket dog vel ikke er Selvfornegtelse.”
Andrew Miller
Sep 07, 2015 Andrew Miller rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Kierkegaard's heavy reliance upon faith as opposed to relying upon argument made parts of his book Works of Love less reasoned than I would've imagined given the acclaim he is given as a philosopher. That said, I really enjoyed the book and certainly agreed with many of his assertions about love and it's importance in our daily lives.
Apr 01, 2013 Stephen rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
It has taken me nearly five years to finish this masterful work - five years of progress that has been at times painstaking or halting, with several resolutions part-way through to just start over again at the beginning to build up momentum. Now, looking back on it as a whole, I can say confidently that this is a book to which I will be returning over and over again in my life, to draw inspiration and encouragement from Kierkegaard's meditations on this most important topic. I do not agree with ...more
Mar 17, 2016 Leonardo marked it as to-keep-reference  ·  review of another edition
Aveces, el odio es la única prueba de que realmente amamos.

Sobre la Violencia Pág.242
Jack Allen
Oct 29, 2015 Jack Allen rated it it was amazing
Works of Love is one of the most subtle and intelligent books in Christian and existentialist ethics. Anyone who regards themselves as either should aim to read at least large chunks of this book.
Melissa Ginther
More of a philosophy book, definitely need to understand basic philosophical colloquial in order to make it an easy read. Very detailed and does an excellent treatment of the greatest commandment.
Dan Dark
Jun 12, 2007 Dan Dark rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Humanists, idealistic Christians, philosophy majors
A lengthy collection of works by Soren Kierkegaard on one topic, love. However in true philosophic fashion the tangential discussions uncover a deeper meaning behind the love humans are capable of the the love received from a loving God. It was particularly difficult for me to wrap my head around and I often had to re-read chapters and take notes in the margins. But I have always felt that reading something in the limits of your comprehension gives you an intimate relationship with the work as y ...more
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  • Dynamics of Faith
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  • The Essential Foucault: Selections from Essential Works of Foucault, 1954-1984
  • On the Nature of the Gods. Academics
  • Waiting for God
  • Theology of Hope
  • Søren Kierkegaard: A Biography
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  • The Trinity
  • The Face of the Third Reich: Portraits of the Nazi Leadership
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Søren Aabye Kierkegaard was a prolific 19th century Danish philosopher and theologian. Kierkegaard strongly criticised both the Hegelianism of his time and what he saw as the empty formalities of the Church of Denmark. Much of his work deals with religious themes such as faith in God, the institution of the Christian Church, Christian ethics and theology, and the emotions and feelings of individua ...more
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“With respect to love we speak continually about perfection and the perfect person. With respect to love Christianity also speaks continually about perfection and the perfect person. Alas, but we men talk about finding the perfect person in order to love him. Christianity speaks about being the perfect person who limitlessly loves the person he sees.” 28 likes
“When one has once fully entered the realm of love, the world — no matter how imperfect — becomes rich and beautiful, it consists solely of opportunities for love.” 22 likes
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