Love versus alienation

Valentin Tomberg:

…To feel something as real in the measure of its full reality is to love. It is love which awakens us to the reality of ourselves, to the reality of others, to the reality of the world and to the reality of God. In so far as we love ourselves, we feel real. And we do not love — or we do not love as much as ourselves — other beings, who seem to us to be less real.

And what is the sense of unreality — of ourselves, of others, of the world, of God? That is alienation.

I could have sworn I wrote this already, but I can’t find it…

In Existentialism: A Reconstruction, David Cooper states that the entire purpose of existentialism is to overcome alienation. He identifies three kinds of alienation:

  • Alienation from one’s own self
  • Alienation from other people
  • Alienation from the world

And I add a fourth category of alienation:

  • Alienation from God (or, if you prefer, alienation from what is beyond our experience, but which involves and obligates us)

I believe all religion is essentially existentialist. But not all existentialism is religion, and this is a function of whether this last fourth category is included or excluded from the goal of one’s existentialism.

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