Abstract
SUMMARYAnders Nygren's antithetical juxtaposition of eros and agape became enormously influential in twentieth-century Protestant theology. Among other interconnected tenets, Nygren promulgated the idea that eros is eudæmonistic, i.e. always seeking the happiness of the lover. In The Four Loves , C. S. Lewis vehemently denies this. Lewis's use of the word ‘happiness’ in The Four Loves is so close to Nygren's eudæmonism that Risto Saarinen has called it ‘a conscious showdown’. In this article I evaluate this engagement. After presenting and deconstructing it, I challenge Lewis's argument. I argue that eros does, as Nygren claims it does, seek happiness – although not only this. Perhaps surprisingly, Lewis, despite all appearances, may actually be compelled to agree with Nygren on this point. But not on every point. The final analysis reveals what I take to be Lewis's true concern. Contrary to what Nygren thought, for Lewis, the pursuit of happiness is not morally culpable and even eros has an agapistic opening. While getting these points across, Lewis was driven to exaggeration in denying eros's happiness-seeking character altogether. This exaggeration is corrected by the overall argument of his last, posthumously published essay, ‘We Have No “Right to Happiness”’
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DOI 10.1515/nzst.2011.013
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