Monday, April 25, 2011

Works of Love

While Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels sat and wrote the Communist Manifesto, Søren Kierkegaard wrote his manifesto, Works of Love (1847). Both Manifestos are in their own ways critical and dialectical writings. Marx and Engels on the basis of a historical dialectic. Kierkegaard wrote based on a negativistic dialectic. Whether or not Marx, Engels, and Kierkegaard knew each other is not far-fetched, but as thinkers, they were very different. Marx and Engels were concerned with social criticism. Kierkegaard was concerned with criticizing our ideal representations. Works of Love is about a struggle between how we evaluate ourselves and how we view others. Kierkegaard was concerned that our ideal representations must be deconstructed and destroyed so that we are capable of accepting ourselves and others as they are. Shame can be understood as failing to live up to our ideals and beliefs, are these failures are strongly connected to our self-image.

The Sickness unto Death and Works of Love should, in my view, be read together. In the book Sickness unto Death, Kierkegaard
develops his concept of the self, which he understood as a set of relationships where one is in despair when one wills to be oneself and when one does not will to be oneself. These relationships are analyzed further in Works of Love. The analysis demonstrates that what we do to others affects who we are as individuals.

In my PhD thesis on shame and sexual abuse, I interviewed a woman named Dagny. I think she explains in an excellent way why it is important to destroy our ideals representations in order to free ourselves from the  destructive forces of

Dagny: You can not say no because others have taken the opportunity to say no from you. You have to do as others say all the time. You will do anything to please others. So you're left with a poor self image because you never get anything back. If you later encounter a partner who once again misuses your trust because he sees your compliance and goodness as a naive, then you are being exploited. If this happens several times throughout your life, along with everything you have experienced as a child, then you start to realize that you have a heavy burden to carry. That's when shame grows and grows. Finally, you feel that you can't rely on anybody anymore.

No comments:

Post a Comment