Philosophy of love

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Philosophy of love is the field of social philosophy and ethics that attempts to explain the nature of love. [1]

Social philosophy branch of philosophy

Social philosophy is the study of questions about social behavior and interpretations of society and social institutions in terms of ethical values rather than empirical relations. Social philosophers place new emphasis on understanding the social contexts for political, legal, moral, and cultural questions, and to the development of novel theoretical frameworks, from social ontology to care ethics to cosmopolitan theories of democracy, human rights, gender equity and global justice.

Ethics branch of philosophy that systematizes, defends, and recommends concepts of right and wrong conduct

Ethics or moral philosophy is a branch of philosophy that involves systematizing, defending, and recommending concepts of right and wrong conduct. The field of ethics, along with aesthetics, concerns matters of value, and thus comprises the branch of philosophy called axiology.

An explanation is a set of statements usually constructed to describe a set of facts which clarifies the causes, context, and consequences of those facts. This description of the facts et cetera may establish rules or laws, and may clarify the existing rules or laws in relation to any objects, or phenomena examined. The components of an explanation can be implicit, and interwoven with one another.

Contents

Current theories

There are many different theories that attempt to explain what love is, and what function it serves. It would be very difficult to explain love to a hypothetical person who had not himself or herself experienced love or being loved. In fact, to such a person love would appear to be quite strange if not outright irrational behavior. Among the prevailing types of theories that attempt to account for the existence of love there are: psychological theories, the vast majority of which consider love to be very healthy behavior; there are evolutionary theories that hold that love is part of the process of natural selection; there are spiritual theories that may, for instance consider love to be a gift from God; there are also theories that consider love to be an unexplainable mystery, very much like a mystical experience.

Love encompasses a range of strong and positive emotional and mental states, from the most sublime virtue or good habit, the deepest interpersonal affection and to the simplest pleasure. An example of this range of meanings is that the love of a mother differs from the love of a spouse, which differs from the love of food. Most commonly, love refers to a feeling of strong attraction and emotional attachment.

Psychology is the science of behavior and mind. Psychology includes the study of conscious and unconscious phenomena, as well as feeling and thought. It is an academic discipline of immense scope. Psychologists seek an understanding of the emergent properties of brains, and all the variety of phenomena linked to those emergent properties. As a social science it aims to understand individuals and groups by establishing general principles and researching specific cases.

Natural selection Mechanism of evolution by differential survival and reproduction of individuals

Natural selection is the differential survival and reproduction of individuals due to differences in phenotype. It is a key mechanism of evolution, the change in the heritable traits characteristic of a population over generations. Charles Darwin popularised the term "natural selection", contrasting it with artificial selection, which in his view is intentional, whereas natural selection is not.

Western traditions

Classical roots

Setting aside Empedocles's view of Eros as the force binding the world together, [2] the roots of the classical philosophy of love go back to Plato's Symposium . [3] Plato's Symposium digs deeper into the idea of love and bringing different interpretations and points of view in order to define love. [4] From its riches, we may perhaps single out three main threads that would continue to reverberate through the centuries that followed.

Empedocles ancient Greek philosopher

Empedocles was a Greek pre-Socratic philosopher and a citizen of Akragas, a Greek city in Sicily. Empedocles' philosophy is best known for originating the cosmogonic theory of the four classical elements. He also proposed forces he called Love and Strife which would mix and separate the elements, respectively. These physical speculations were part of a history of the universe which also dealt with the origin and development of life.

Eros god of love in Greek mythology

In Greek mythology, Eros is the Greek god of love. His Roman counterpart was Cupid ("desire"). Normally, he is described as one of the children of Aphrodite and Ares, and with most of his siblings, was a part of group, consisting of winged love gods. However, sometimes he is also described as one of the primordial gods, but then, he is most often identified with Phanes.

Plato Classical Greek philosopher

Plato was an Athenian philosopher during the Classical period in Ancient Greece, founder of the Platonist school of thought, and the Academy, the first institution of higher learning in the Western world.

  1. The idea of two loves, one heavenly, one earthly. As Uncle Toby was informed, over two millennia later, "of these loves, according to Ficinus's comment on Valesius, the one is rational - the other is natural - the first...excites to the desire of philosophy and truth - the second, excites to desire, simply". [5]
  2. Aristophanes's conception of mankind as the product of the splitting in two of an original whole: Freud would later draw on this myth - "everything about these primaeval men was double: they had four hands and four feet, two faces" [6] - to support his theory of the repetition compulsion.
  3. Plato's sublimation theory of love - "mounting upwards...from one to two, and from two to all fair forms, and from fair forms to fair actions, and from fair actions to fair notions, until from fair notions he arrives at the notion of absolute beauty". [7]

Aristotle by contrast placed more emphasis on philia (friendship, affection) than on eros (love); [8] and the dialectic of friendship and love would continue to be played out into and through the Renaissance, [9] with Cicero for the Latins pointing out that "it is love (amor) from which the word 'friendship' (amicitia) is derived" [10] Meanwhile, Lucretius, building on the work of Epicurus, had both praised the role of Venus as "the guiding power of the universe", and criticised those who become "love-sick...life's best years squandered in sloth and debauchery". [11]

Aristotle philosopher in ancient Greece

Aristotle was a philosopher during the Classical period in Ancient Greece, the founder of the Lyceum and the Peripatetic school of philosophy and Aristotelian tradition. Along with his teacher Plato, he is considered the "Father of Western Philosophy". His writings cover many subjects – including physics, biology, zoology, metaphysics, logic, ethics, aesthetics, poetry, theatre, music, rhetoric, psychology, linguistics, economics, politics and government. Aristotle provided a complex synthesis of the various philosophies existing prior to him, and it was above all from his teachings that the West inherited its intellectual lexicon, as well as problems and methods of inquiry. As a result, his philosophy has exerted a unique influence on almost every form of knowledge in the West and it continues to be a subject of contemporary philosophical discussion.

Renaissance European cultural period, 14th to 17th century

The Renaissance is a period in European history, covering the span between the 14th and 17th centuries and marking the transition from the Middle Ages to modernity. The traditional view focuses more on the early modern aspects of the Renaissance and argues that it was a break from the past, but many historians today focus more on its medieval aspects and argue that it was an extension of the middle ages.

Lucretius Roman poet and philosopher

Titus Lucretius Carus was a Roman poet and philosopher. His only known work is the philosophical poem De rerum natura, a didactic work about the tenets and philosophy of Epicureanism, and which is usually translated into English as On the Nature of Things. Lucretius has been credited with originating the concept of the three-age system which was formalised from 1834 by C. J. Thomsen.

Petrarchism

Among his love-sick targets, Catullus, along with others like Héloïse, would find himself summoned in the 12C to a Love's Assize. [12] From the ranks of such figures, and perhaps also under Islamic influences, would emerge the concept of courtly love; [13] and from that Petrarchism would form the rhetorical/philosophical foundations of romantic love for the early modern world. [14]

Catullus Latin poet

Gaius Valerius Catullus was a Latin poet of the late Roman Republic who wrote chiefly in the neoteric style of poetry, which is about personal life rather than classical heroes. His surviving works are still read widely and continue to influence poetry and other forms of art.

Islamic Golden Age A period in Islamic history from the 8th through 14th centuries

The Islamic Golden Age was a period of cultural, economic and scientific flourishing in the history of Islam, traditionally dated from the 8th century to the 14th century. This period is traditionally understood to have begun during the reign of the Abbasid caliph Harun al-Rashid with the inauguration of the House of Wisdom in Baghdad, where scholars from various parts of the world with different cultural backgrounds were mandated to gather and translate all of the world's classical knowledge into the Arabic language. This period is traditionally said to have ended with the collapse of the Abbasid caliphate due to Mongol invasions and the Siege of Baghdad in 1258 AD. A few contemporary scholars place the end of the Islamic Golden Age as late as the end of 15th to 16th centuries.

Courtly love medieval European literary conception of love

Courtly love was a medieval European literary conception of love that emphasized nobility and chivalry. Medieval literature is filled with examples of knights setting out on adventures and performing various deeds or services for ladies because of their "courtly love". This kind of love is originally a literary fiction created for the entertainment of the nobility, but as time passed, these ideas about love changed and attracted a larger audience. In the high Middle Ages, a "game of love" developed around these ideas as a set of social practices. "Loving nobly" was considered to be an enriching and improving practice.

Gallic scepticism

Alongside the passion for merging that marked Romantic love, [15] a more sceptical French tradition can be traced from Stendhal onwards. Stendhal's theory of crystallization implied an imaginative readiness for love, which only needed a single trigger for the object to be imbued with every phantasised perfection. [16] Proust went further, singling out absence, inaccessibility or jealousy as the necessary precipitants of love. [17] Lacan would almost parody the tradition with his saying that "love is giving something you haven't got to someone who doesn't exist". [18] A post-Lacanian like Luce Irigaray would then struggle to find room for love in a world that will "reduce the other to the same...emphasizing eroticism to the detriment of love, under the cover of sexual liberation". [19]

Stendhal French writer

Marie-Henri Beyle, better known by his pen name Stendhal, was a 19th-century French writer. Best known for the novels Le Rouge et le Noir and La Chartreuse de Parme, he is highly regarded for the acute analysis of his characters' psychology and considered one of the earliest and foremost practitioners of realism.

Crystallization is a concept, developed in 1822 by the French writer Stendhal, which describes the process, or mental metamorphosis, in which unattractive characteristics of a new love are transformed into perceptual diamonds of shimmering beauty; according to a quotation by Stendhal: What I call 'crystallization' is the operation of the mind that draws from all that presents itself the discovery that the loved object has some new perfections.

Jealousy generally refers to the thoughts or feelings of insecurity, fear, and concern over a relative lack of possessions.

Western philosophers of love

Eastern traditions

  1. Given what Max Weber called the intimate relationship between religion and sexuality, [20] the role of the lingam and yoni in India, or of yin and yang in China, as a structuring form of cosmic polarity based on the male and female principles, [21] is perhaps more comprehensible. By way of maithuna or sacred intercourse, [22] Tantra developed a whole tradition of sacred sexuality, [23] which led in its merger with Buddhism to a view of sexual love as a path to enlightenment: as Saraha put it, "That blissful delight that consists between lotus and vajra...removes all defilements". [24]
  2. More soberly, the Hindu tradition of friendship as the basis for love in marriage can be traced back to the early times of the Vedas. [25]
  3. Confucius is sometimes seen as articulating a philosophy (as opposed to religion) of love. [26]

See also

Related Research Articles

Eroticism quality that causes sexual feelings

Eroticism is a quality that causes sexual feelings, as well as a philosophical contemplation concerning the aesthetics of sexual desire, sensuality, and romantic love. That quality may be found in any form of artwork, including painting, sculpture, photography, drama, film, music, or literature. It may also be found in advertising. The term may also refer to a state of sexual arousal or anticipation of such – an insistent sexual impulse, desire, or pattern of thoughts.

<i>Symposium</i> (Plato) philosophical text by Plato

The Symposium is a philosophical text by Plato dated c. 385–370 BC. It depicts a friendly contest of extemporaneous speeches given by a group of notable men attending a banquet. The men include the philosopher Socrates, the general and political figure Alcibiades, and the comic playwright Aristophanes. The speeches are to be given in praise of Eros, the god of love and desire. In the Symposium, Eros is recognized both as erotic love and as a phenomenon capable of inspiring courage, valor, great deeds and works, and vanquishing man's natural fear of death. It is seen as transcending its earthly origins and attaining spiritual heights. This extraordinary elevation of the concept of love raises a question of whether some of the most extreme extents of meaning might be intended as humor or farce. Eros is almost always translated as "love", and the English word has its own varieties and ambiguities that provide additional challenges to the effort to understand the Eros of ancient Athens.

Romance (love) Type of love that focuses on feelings

Romance is an emotional feeling of love for, or a strong attraction towards another person, and the courtship behaviors undertaken by an individual to express those overall feelings and resultant emotions.

Platonic love is a type of love, or close relationship, that is non-sexual. It is named after Greek philosopher Plato, though the philosopher never used the term himself. Platonic love as devised by Plato concerns rising through levels of closeness to wisdom and true beauty from carnal attraction to individual bodies to attraction to souls, and eventually, union with the truth. This is the ancient, philosophical interpretation. Platonic love is often contrasted with romantic love.

Philosophy of sex is an aspect of applied philosophy involved with the study of sex and love. It includes both ethics of phenomena such as prostitution, rape, sexual harassment, sexual identity, the age of consent, homosexuality, and conceptual analysis of concepts such as "what is sex?" It also includes questions of sexuality and sexual identity and the ontological status of gender. Leading contemporary philosophers of sex include Alan Soble and Judith Butler.

Luce Irigaray is a Belgian-born French feminist, philosopher, linguist, psycholinguist, psychoanalyst and cultural theorist. She is best known for her works Speculum of the Other Woman (1974) and This Sex Which Is Not One (1977). Presently, she is active in the Women's Movements in both France and Italy.

Eros (concept)

Eros is one of the four ancient Greco-Christian terms which can be rendered into English as "love". The other three are storge, philia, and agape. Eros refers to "passionate love" or romantic love; storge to familial love; philia to friendship as a kind of love; and agape refers to "selfless love", or "charity" as it is translated in the Christian scriptures.

Écriture féminine translates from the French as "women's writing". The theory, which unpacks the relationship between the cultural and psychological inscription of the female body and female difference in language and text, is a strain of feminist literary theory that originated in France in the early 1970s through the work of theorists including Hélène Cixous, Monique Wittig, Luce Irigaray, Chantal Chawaf, Catherine Clément, and Julia Kristeva and has subsequently been extended by writers such as psychoanalytic theorist Bracha Ettinger, who emerged in this field in the early 1990s.

Emission theory or extramission theory is the proposal that visual perception is accomplished by eye beams emitted by the eyes. This theory has been replaced by intromission theory, which states that visual perception comes from something representative of the object entering the eyes. Modern physics has confirmed that light is physically transmitted by photons from a light source, such as the sun, to visible objects, and finishing with the detector, such as a human eye or camera.

Anal eroticism is erotic activity focusing on the anus, and sometimes the rectum. Sigmund Freud hypothesized that the anal stage of childhood psychosexual development was marked by the predominance of anal eroticism.

Greek love is a term originally used by classicists to describe the primarily homoerotic customs, practices, and attitudes of the ancient Greeks. It was frequently used as a euphemism for homosexuality and pederasty. The phrase is a product of the enormous impact of the reception of classical Greek culture on historical attitudes toward sexuality, and its influence on art and various intellectual movements.

'Greece' as the historical memory of a treasured past was romanticised and idealised as a time and a culture when love between males was not only tolerated but actually encouraged, and expressed as the high ideal of same-sex camaraderie. ... If tolerance and approval of male homosexuality had happened once—and in a culture so much admired and imitated by the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries—might it not be possible to replicate in modernity the antique homeland of the non-heteronormative?

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Feminist views on the Oedipus complex

Feminists have long struggled with Sigmund Freud's classical model of gender and identity development and reality, which centers around the Oedipus complex. Freud's model, which became integral to orthodox psychoanalysis, suggests that because women lack the visible genitals of the male, they feel they are "missing" the most central characteristic necessary for gaining narcissistic value—therefore developing feelings of gender inequality and penis envy. In his late theory on the feminine, Freud recognized the early and long lasting libidinal attachment of the daughter to the mother during the pre-oedipal stages. Feminist psychoanalysts have confronted these ideas and reached different conclusions. Some generally agree with Freud's major outlines, modifying it through observations of the pre-Oedipal phase. Others reformulate Freud's theories more completely.

French post-structuralist feminism takes post-structuralism and combines it with feminist views and looks to see if a literary work has successfully used the process of mimesis on the image of the female. If successful, then a new image of a woman has been created by a woman for a woman, therefore it is not a biased opinion created by men. Along with Luce Irigaray and Julia Kristeva, Hélène Cixous is considered one of the mothers of poststructuralist feminist theory. Since the 1990s, these three together with Bracha Ettinger have considerably influenced French feminism and feminist psychoanalysis.

Penis envy in Freudian psychoanalysis, the female psychosexual developmental stage when young girls experience anxiety upon realizing that they lack a penis; begins the transition from attachment to the mother to competition with the mother for the the father

Penis envy is a stage theorized by Sigmund Freud regarding female psychosexual development, in which young girls experience anxiety upon realization that they do not have a penis. Freud considered this realization a defining moment in a series of transitions toward a mature female sexuality and gender identity. In Freudian theory, the penis envy stage begins the transition from an attachment to the mother to competition with the mother for the attention, recognition and affection of the father. The parallel reaction of a boy's realization that women do not have a penis is castration anxiety.

A sage, in classical philosophy, is someone who has attained the wisdom which a philosopher seeks. The first to make this distinction is Plato, through the character of Socrates, within the Symposium. While analyzing the concept of love, Socrates concludes Love is that which lacks the object it seeks. Therefore, the philosopher does not have the wisdom sought, while the sage, on the other hand, does not love or seek wisdom, for it is already possessed. Socrates then examines the two categories of persons who do not partake in philosophy:

  1. Gods and sages, because they are wise;
  2. Senseless people, because they think they are wise.
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Andrea Nye is a feminist philosopher and writer. Nye is a Professor Emerita at the University of Wisconsin–Whitewater for the Philosophy and Religious Studies Department and an active member of the Women's Studies Department. In 1992, Nye received the University of Wisconsin–Whitewater Award for Outstanding Research.

Archaic mother is the mother of earliest infancy, whose continuing influence is traced in psychoanalysis, and whose (repressed) presence is considered to underlie the horror film.

References

  1. Irving Singer (31 March 2009). Philosophy of Love: A Partial Summing-Up. MIT Press. ISBN   978-0-262-19574-4 . Retrieved 14 September 2012.
  2. Erotic, in Richard Gregory, The Oxford Companion to the Mind (1987) p. 228
  3. Linnell Secomb (1 June 2007). Philosophy and Love: From Plato to Popular Culture. Edinburgh University Press. ISBN   978-0-7486-2368-6 . Retrieved 14 September 2012.
  4. "Plato's theory of love: Rationality as Passion" (PDF).
  5. Lawrence Sterne, The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy (1976) p. 560-1
  6. S. Freud, On Metapsychology (PFL 11) p. 331
  7. B. Jowett trans, The Essential Plato (1999) p. 746
  8. Aristotle, Ethics (1976) p. 377-9
  9. William C. Carroll ed., The Two Gentlemen of Verona (2004) p. 3-23
  10. Quoted in Carroll, p. 11
  11. Lucretius, On the Nature of the Universe (1961) p. 27 and p. 163-5
  12. Helen Waddell, The Wandering Scholars (1968) p. 20 and p. 26
  13. K. Clark, Civilisation (1969) p. 64-5
  14. Carroll, p. 31
  15. Irving Singer, The Philosophy of Love (2009) p. 40M
  16. Irving Singer, The Nature of Love (2009) p. 360-1
  17. G. Brereton, A Short History of French Literature (1954) p. 243
  18. Adam Phillips, On Flirtation (1994) p. 39
  19. Luce Irigaray, Sharing the World (2008) p. 49 and p. 36
  20. Max Weber, The Sociology of Religion (1971) p.236
  21. Carl Jung, Man and his Symbols (1978) p. 81 and p. 357
  22. Sophy Hoare, Yoga (1980) p. 19
  23. Margo Anand, The Art of Sexual Ecstasy (1990) p. 38-47
  24. Quoted in E. Conze, Buddhist Scriptures (1973) p. 178
  25. Hindu Philosophy of Marriage
  26. F. Yang/J. Taamney, Confucianism (2011) p. 289

Further reading