Love Among the Post-Socratics

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Victor Eremita proposes that the reader understand parts I and II of Either/Or as parties in a dialogue; most readers in fact view II as a devastating reply to I. I suggest that part I be read as a reaction or follow-up to Kierkegaard’s dissertation. Much of part I presents reflective characters who are aware of their freedom but reluctant or unable to adopt the ethical life. The modern Antigone and the Silhouettes are sisters of Alcibiades—failed students of Socrates. I articulate and defend their modes of loving, which are significantly different from Don Giovanni’s and Johannes the Seducer’s purely aesthetic approaches to love. Such feminine love, I argue, dwells in the disputed territory between passion and action, substance and freedom, the aesthetic and the ethical. Antigone’s love is a passion she both suffers and tries to appropriate. The Silhouettes’ devotion to their beloved makes them dependent on him. I defend this dependence even though it is undoubtedly a form of despair. By appealing to Sartre’s account of love, I argue moreover that this love involves a recognition and appraisal of the beloved absent in the love exemplified by Fear and Trembling’s knight of infinite resignation.
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Archival date: 2014-06-30
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