Monday, November 22, 2004

Kierkegaard: Love believes all things (1)

«Love believes all thing. - Light mindedness, inexperience, naiveté believe everything that is said; vanity, conceit, complacency believe everything flattering that is said; envy, malice, corruption believe everything evil that is said; mistrust [Mistoiskhed] believes [tro] nothing at all; experience will teach that it is most sagacious not to believe everything - but love believes all things. >Therefore mistrust believes nothing at all; it does exactly the opposite of what love does. Ordinarily mistrust is not well re­garded by people, but from this it does not necessarily follow either that they are fully agreed to abhor all mistrust or that they are fully agreed to praise unconditionally the love that believes all things. Strangely enough, they perhaps prefer to make a compromise - that is, a contentious compromise between mistrust, which is only slightly loving and yet believes something, and love, which is only slightly mistrustful and yet has a misgiving or two. Indeed, if one wanted to render mistrust's shrewd secret properly, in supranatural magnitude to attire it in the dazzling appearance of sagacity, cunning, and ingenuity, it certainly would tempt many. Perhaps there would be someone who would sagaciously have us understand that this was exactly what he had discovered - and be proud of his discovery. In contrast to this, love, which believes all things, would certainly make a very poor showing, as happens very often with the good; then many a one would not even have the courage to admit that he could want to be simpleminded. What, specifically, is mistrust's shrewd secret? It is a misuse of knowledge, a misuse that summarily, in one breath, wants to attach its "ergo" to what as knowledge is entirely true and be­comes something entirely different only when, upside down, it is believed by virtue of that which is just as impossible as it is upside-down, since one does not believe by virtue of knowl­edge. What mistrust says or presents is really only knowledge; the secret and the falsity lie in this, that it summarily converts this knowledge into a belief and pretends that nothing has happened, pretends that it is something that does not even need to be noticed, "since everyone who has the same knowledge must necessarily come to the. same conclusion," as if it were eternally certain and entirely decided that when knowledge is given then how one concludes is also given. The deception is that from knowledge (the pretense and the falsity are that it is by virtue of knowledge) mistrust concludes, assumes, and believes what it concludes, assumes, and believe by virtue of the disbelief inherent in mistrust, whereas from the same knowledge, by virtue of belief one can conclude, assume, and believe the very opposite. Mistrust says, "Deception extends un­conditionally just as far as the truth, falsity unconditionally just as far as honesty; there is no unconditional mark of truth or of honesty and integrity. So it is also with love. In deceiving, hypocrisy and trickery and wiliness and seduction extend unconditionally just as far as love does, and they can resemble true love so deceptively that there is no unconditional mark, because along with every expression of the truth, or here of true love, there is also the possibility of a deception that corresponds to it exactly." So it is, and so it must be.»

Edited and translated by Howard and Edna H. Hong, Princeton University