Love as Power and Powerlessness: Kierkegaard and Adorno Revisited

Christopher C Brittain

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


This article defends the ongoing relevance of Adorno's criticism of Kierkegaard's Works of Love, despite the fact that many Kierkegaard scholars dismiss it. To support this claim, the discussion shows how issues at the heart of Adorno's critique resurface in contemporary debates over Kierkegaard's distinction between preferential and non-preferential love. This is particularly evident in Krishek's debate with Ferreira. The article argues that the repair Krishek proposes to Kierkegaard's account falls short of Adorno's insistence on the significance of social context. This issue is drawn out by contrasting Krishek's emphasis on caring compassion with Adorno's preference for concepts such as reconciliation and justice. The discussion subsequently acknowledges that Adorno's own account of subjectivity remains inadequate in ways that recall issues he criticizes in Kierkegaard's philosophy. Potential resources in Adorno's thought are drawn out from some of his aphorisms on the power of love.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)43-62
Number of pages20
JournalToronto Journal of Theology
Issue number1
Early online date20 Mar 2017
Publication statusPublished - 2017


  • Adorno
  • Kierkegaard
  • love
  • power
  • neighbour


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