The Paradox in Amor-Ab-Initio

Problem: There seems to be no way to willingly make myself Love.

Explanation: Love is an end-in-itself, and has to be willed for its own sake. The very act of willing, however, expresses a certain interest to love (that is, we all know that love is a good thing, and desire to love), and therefore spoils—in Kantian terms, makes heteronomous—the love that one is willing. Thus, willing love is a contradiction. The same goes for the wish to do good or, in Christian terms, Imitate Christ.


A. Iris Murdoch’s proposal. The use of attention. The caring attention towards the overflowing, inexhaustible good which allows it to lovingly transform oneself. To participate in Love, and let the love transform oneself, rather than directly willing it. This is the seeing of the forms—of things as it is—that Plato talked about which provides wisdom.

Supporter 1: Dostoevsky. “Beauty will save the world.” It is a participation in the aesthetic, in the contemplation and understanding of the beautiful, in participation within it, that one can be transformed. C.f. The strange and incomprehensible The Idiot.

Supporter 2: Heidegger. What is attention but to be “Shepherds of Being”, to wait for a “God [that] can save us”? Heidegger, however, will disagree with Murdoch of her reliance on the visual metaphor. Listening, for Heidegger, as that which does not enframe and represent, is the more proper mode of participation.

Supporter 3: John Vervaeke. Anagogic transformation leads to wisdom through the acquiring of not propositional but participatory knowledge, which can only be given through a dynamic interaction between the subject and the object for the “transject”, that which radically transforms the frame in which one operates.

Supporter 4: Paul. “Faith is the substance of things hoped for and evidence of things unseen…  so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear.’ To have faith is to have faith in the beyond of the phenomenon, for the wealth that can be unearthed through loving and just attention (which connects to faith because attention is the faith in the relevancy of the matter-at-hand). Thus, “God [to think non-theologically, “Being’] having provided some better thing for us, that they without us should not be made perfect”

B. Beckett: A defeatist Waiting for Godot/Love. There is nothing one can do other than wait for the arrival of that which may never come.

Supporter 1: Luther. We, as originally sinned and unable to interpret the scripture, can do nothing to secure salvation. If salvation does come, then it is miracle and grace. Just like the arrival of Godot.

Supporter 2: Kant. Every free act is only free in the noumenal and not in the phenomenal, in the sense that it somehow changes the past without us realizing it. Therefore it can only seem determined. Love, as free, has to follows this pattern. One has only to wait.

C. Nietzsche: Powering through with one’s will. Love is merely the willing of eternity. The becoming of who one is. The full development of the will so that it wills both forwards and backwards.

Supporter 1: Kierkegaard (vulgarized?). The Leap of Faith certainly sounds very leapy and willy.

Supporter 2: Sartre. Don’t want to talk about him. I don’t like explaining his theories. They are annoying and I am really not fond of him.

Supporter(s): Uncertain. It sometimes feel like we are all fragments Nietzsche.

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