For me, there is no greater enjoyment than to attempt to acquire good moral habits, to traverse through the matrix of my mind, my past and present and relate, reconstitute and investigate the context of my decisions, the questionable views that I may hold and ultimately study my own emotions and actions until I reach that mean, the equilibrium that Immanuel Kant describes as “…the firmly grounded disposition to fulfill one’s duty strictly.”[i] For many, such discipline is extreme in our contemporary world of ‘having fun’ or as Maimonides writes, “[t]hey are the same people that say: “Eat and drink for tomorrow we die,”’[ii] however happiness for me is a type of subjective science and I desire above all else the capacity to obtain the wisdom toward a truthful and genuine understanding of love. That is my ambition despite all that I may have experienced, my environment, and the limitations of my intellectual capacity; to truly understand what love is subjectively both as a mode of understanding, patience, kindness and mercy, along with its application such as charity, righteousness and justice.
While the study has described various forms of love, for me there is only one type of love within a divided framework; that is, to find love we must give love, but how we give love must first be understood as something not directed to an object alone but to all things, which can be considered eternal or even infinite. “Reality cannot be found except in one single source, because of the interconnection of all things with one another,” as said by G. Leibniz. Thus, by learning to give love and to treat all with a lovingkindness as one would for the fondness and affection they would feel toward a friend – that is to love God [the eternal or infinite, the reality of the interconnection of all things] – they will in turn receive the love that we each yearn for. Love is an application, an attitude, an expression, but it must also be in earnest, authentic and surpass the selfish or egotistical that erotic love and even friendship may have.[iii] “But only when one loves his neighbour, only then is the selfishness of the preferential love rooted out and the equality of the eternal preserved.”[iv] This tenderness of the eternal requires a settled heart or a balance and level-headedness that allows one to discover an understanding of the world beyond the self and the expectations of their environment. If one ignores important moral principles [for me, it is the ‘Twelve Commandments’ that is, the ten commandments of Moses and the two by Jesus, which is to Love the Lord God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind (that is to love all things or to give love) along with the Golden Rule] they lose their sense of honour and integrity. In doing so, they lose their personhood, the very fabric of their being since what are we if we lie to ourselves?
It is therefore reaching a type of balance both subjectively and how we live our lives; to spend the time shaping and developing our moral character traits – which includes making mistakes and having a sense of humour – but that nevertheless steady the appetitive and strengthens one own education, leading toward an authentic conception of the ethical and political. In Aristotelian terms, it is from philia to philesis (cf. EE7, 1241a3-14), the transition from philia [loving or ‘friendly-feeling’] toward having an emotional attachment or an active love and desire to perfect philia itself. True perfection is the intellectual awareness not merely from somewhere emotional but through prohairesis, the ‘will’ or the moral individual, what is the deliberate and conscious goodness with the independent motive that desires mutually good things for others and vice-versa.[vii] It is to overcome the subordinate and enslaved faculties by attempting rationally identify intrinsic character traits and inspire genuine love.
Similar to Kierkegaard, I seek to understand the individual and existence and thus regularly find myself questioning all things relating to the definition of existence. For Kierkegaard, it is to be a good Christian. For me, it is to be a loving person. Immediately, the boundaries are broken and the mode of existence transitions to a realm so vast that one can barely grasp whether the altitude is remotely accessible. Either that, or the simplicity so clear that it seems almost bereft of validity. How do we know the difference between a truly loving person and a superficial love? How can we guide and teach others to ensure that they are adhering to the existential, philosophical, rational and emotional requirements that would lead them toward obtaining an honest and eternal conception of love? It is usually for this reason that processes of acquiring the answers to such unfulfilled questions becomes codified, processes soon thereafter becoming institutionalised and eventually transcending to an almost mythical, imagined form that distinguishing the purpose becomes impossible. Did not Jesus come to teach us about love? How are the colossal statues and golden laden paintings and lapis lazuli marble floors of the Vatican going to help one achieve this? These false myths have penetrated the mind and society so deeply that it becomes the very source and the very problem of what it was initially supposed to have achieved. It demonstrates a praise for paganism, the latter a connotation to Kierkegaard’s, “[o]ne must rather take pains to make very clear that… the poet really belongs to paganism since his task belongs to it,”[viii] as one belongs to the institution that they follow. This is the paradox of wisdom: that in order to be careful discerning and choosing the right action in earnest, the process of reaching this without betraying the sincerity of the intention requires a type of regulation or codified rules. But codified rules and regulations lead one toward servtitude rather than attaining an independent will and desire to find and lead a life of wisdom.
Notwithstanding the difference between the moral and ethical, ethics is to a degree a codified process that aims at creating a correct social character. This is what I refer to as the political domain where as social beings we are required to live with others and in doing so the well-being of others becomes instrumental to the well-being of ourselves. But, there is that complication between philosophical views such as the social contract theory and the identification of a personal, altruistic desire for the betterment of society. Do we create a healthy, peaceful society because we are ultimately selfish, or do we create a healthy, peaceful society because we care for the inhabitants? To Moses Maimonides, it is to a degree both, whereby “[t]he two primary goals of the Code, personal serenity and communal well-being… the middle way in anger, for instance, simultaneously curbs anger for the sake of the individual’s own tranquillity and requires anger when necessary for the correction of other people.”[ix]
Without the anthropomorphic projections, reaching a state of Agape and understanding that God is love – the source of all love – it must be known that I still believe in the existence of a real God. I want to ensure that the image of God from all religious or institutional sources such as a man on a cloud to supernatural spirits or anything consistent of a form or a temporal being with human qualities is inconsistent with my understanding of God. There is no image. For me, when I think of how the universe came to existence, I am unable to explain neither am I able to visualise what it actually was that caused the universe to exist and yet, I believe that something – though I am unable to conceive of what – did exist since the universe exists. “God is that, the greater than which cannot be conceived.” It is through love or our conception of love that we are able to clarify the mind, find the peace and reach a state of cognitive independence and moral well-being that will enable us to understand the source of this intuitive conception. This is ‘faith’ that when one states that God is love, it is that only through love can one understand God.
To study love is to study life as it is fundamental for a functional adult and by understanding right and wrong and making moral decisions we transcend to the Kantian rational, autonomous being. It is to focus on rational and natural laws, to view and understand social and political dilemmas, to fill the mind with historical knowledge so as to ascertain the things that once went wrong and how one can architect that wrong into a right. It is to appreciate the obligation and duty to share love and demonstrate a dedication toward overcoming the affection of an inanimate purpose with the sole intent of anticipating reciprocal regard. To be well-disposed in character, to treat humanity with a type of kinship, to enhance the well-being of the self through others and society, to be independent of mind, moderate in temperament and just in nature.
But it is not a weakness, not a way in which one ignores the failures of themselves and of society as a whole. Love is righteousness and to be bold and fearless. It is to overcome the mindlessness of imitation and to be of independent will and mind. As said by Socrates, “I should not like to have my words repeated to the tragedians and the rest of the imitative tribe – but I do not mind saying to you, that all poetical imitations are ruinous to the understanding of the hearers, and that the knowledge of their true nature is the only antidote to them.”[iix] If I have experienced hardships in my life and that these hardships were forced upon me by others who failed to possess and even ignored the required conditions for a loving environment, it is only reasonable that I should acknowledge irrespective of my own personal hardships the unequivocal importance concerning the nature of giving love. It is to assess the mutual relationship one has with the world around them, to distinctly point out injustice and desire – whether in personal relationships or socially and politically – with insightful dedication and a conscious effort to ensure the betterment, advancement and sustainability of love, and to make an honest and altruistic effort to find the right passions, which is to obtain a strong conviction for righteousness, wisdom and justice.
[i] Immanuel Kant, Religion within the Bounds of Bare Reason 6:23,
[ii] Raymond L. Weiss and Charles Butterworth, Ethical Writing of Maimonides, Dover Publications, New York 1975. 4,
[iii] Soren Kierkegaard, Works of Love: Some Christian Reflections in the Form of Discourses. 11B [You Shall Love Your Neighbour], 58,
[iv] Ibid., 58,
[v] Erich Fromm, The Sane Society, Henry Holt and Company (1990),
[vii] David Konstan, ‘Aristotle on love and friendship’, Talk held at University of Louvain, Vol II.2 (2008),
[viii] Kierkegaard, op. cit., 58,
[ix] Raymond L. Weiss and Charles Butterworth, op. cit., 6,
[iix] Plato’s Republic, Book X .