The Risk of Love

The analogy between love and religious faith is pretty common, love is often referred to as being a 'leap of faith' and is becoming something of a cliche. In this post, i'd like to extend this analogy one step further. To make this comparison, i need a faith-based philosophical model, and Kierkegaard's philosophy seems to be a perfect candidate for it.

Kierkegaard is extremely skeptic of reason and shows through a great deal of reasoning that it is impossible to achieve objective, necessary knowledge about things related to human life. This leads to the human predicament: we have no knowledge at all about the purpose and meaning of human life, and yet we have a dire need of such knowledge to live our lives. Either we can remain in our state of utter skepticism, or, as Kierkegaard advises, we can take a leap of faith, a ‘leap into absurdity’, an irrational belief that there is something called ‘God’ who can give us enlightenment if we desire it. And now comes the tricky part: We can never know if this decision was correct. It could be the wrong decision. But this is the 'risk of faith' which we must take if we are to escape absurdity. The risk is enormous, because if God doesn't exist then you'd have spent your life chasing an illusion. Kierkegaard himself chose to believe in the truth of Christianity and in the Incarnation of Jesus. The reader would probably have his/her own version of faith and the associated risk.
Now, most people do come to realize that the leap of love is a lot like leap of faith, but they don't extend their thought and identify the risk it entails. Because just like there is a risk of faith in religion, there is a risk of faith in love. You don't know the other person completely when you begin a relationship. You have only a vague and approximate idea of what sort of a person he is, and even though you have no objective certainty that the relationship will work out, you decide to take the leap of faith, and with it comes the risk: the risk that the person might not be the right one for you, and you might end up ruining your life running after the wrong person. Or even if the person may be right one, there are so many external factors which can lead to a break-up or the deterioration of relationship. You can never be sure. But this is the risk one takes, and most are willing to take, to experience the beauty and joy of a successful love.


Kishore said…
And how many people get lost on the dark avenues of life which lie beyond the paradise of "love found"..

I quite like this post, Awais.
And I'd like to point some things out:

Isn't Kierkegaard's reasoning (or his lack of it) something like that of a Christian apologist? (Consider also my knowledge of existentialism which is in its infancy, and my knowledge of Kierkegaard which doesn't exist.)

And secondly,
A leap/risk of faith in religion (or faith itself) and in love certainly have their differences. For example, If I risked faith in God, I can go on and on about it all my life, with the risk neither diminished or increased at all, for an infinite length of time. By contrast, in love, the risk either increases or decreases with time.

I will never know conclusively whether God exists or not (unless some bearded man comes and proclaims to me on a moonlit night that he is God). But I will definitely see my relationship of love develop through various stages and thereby converting my faith to certainty or its opposite.
dure said…
@ Kishore:
Hey I like that point.

@ Awais:
Don't you make it sound as if love is/can be decided as consciously and objectively as religion?
Awais said…
@ Kishore

Kierkegaard's reasoning... in a lot of ways it is like that of a Christian apologist. Kierkegaard echoed the medieval sentiment of "I believe because it is absurd" regarding the religious beliefs. But unlike a Christian apologist, Kierkegaard was highly open to the idea of multiple truths, because he was a strong believe of subjectivity. He believed that the the important thing to find is the truth which is the truth for you, and didn't claim Christianity to be objectively true for all persons.
Awais said…
@ Kishore

You are very right about the differences between love and religious faith in this analogy... and thanks for pointing them out, because i wasn't very clear about them in my thinking. :)
Awais said…
@ Dure

Don't you make it sound as if love is/can be decided as consciously and objectively as religion?

A very valid question. I think that one cannot consciously decide to fall in love with someone, but initiating a relationship with the person you like is something that can be decided... though, of course, most people do opt for it, but many don't as well, cause of various reasons. I know a couple of people who like someone but hesitate about having a proper relationship because it isn't socially appropriate for them.
Kishore said…
Thanks :)

:) Kierkegaard.. Back to my books now..
Yeah, a relationship is a choice, love is not.
Umair said…
Love and Religion
Just like we can not know the essence of our life from some scripture, and as Sartre says, Existence precedes essence, and as qe ourselves have to create an essence for our life.

Similarly, Love is not some objective reality. It is the emotional stance of a Person. It is a complex created from the person's conscious and nonconscious ideas. Even he / she is not sure why he / she is falling in love, if, at all, he / she is falling. One has to "decide" whether to pursue a love or relationship or not. And yes, it contains a risk. but so does almost all decisions of life.