The most complete formula for loving


This is the most complete formula for loving. I have never seen it presented. It contains the remarkable paradox that it is just because he made me unhappy that my love is greatest. This formula contains more reflected sympathy than is usually considered.

This is the scale

  1. Loving someone because he makes me happy – is egoism.
  2. Loving without further addition, which is superior to (1) in the way that a general is higher than a major-general. The plain status is more than the grades. The identity of the plain status and the superlative. (The because is like “major” in respect of “general”, it subtracts.)
  3. Loving – and in addition loving even more – because he made me unhappy. For when a because in respect of loving is like a plus (as in (1)) it subtracts and is a minus. But if in respect of love a because seems a minus (his making me unhappy is indeed a subtraction), it is a plus, the only, the absolutely fervent, moving plus in respect of loving.

From “Journals” (1848 – 1849), Søren Kierkegaard

Kierkegaard attempts the formulation of a complete formula for loving by employing properties of inclusion and the double complement law.