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 Soren 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.
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).
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.