Nature of Love

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THE NATURE OF LOVE John A. Brentlinger In Alan Soble (Editor). Eros, Agape, and Philia: Readings in the Philosophy of Love. New York: Paragon Press, 1989. 136-148. PHILOSOPHERS WHO HAVE written on love--and as Plato noticed in his day, they are very few--have mainly discussed four issues: (1) the objects of love, and whether loved objects are one sort of thing or diverse; (2) the sort of state love is--whether it is a sensation or feeling, an attitude, an emotion, a belief, a desire, or some combination of these; (3) the relation between love and desire (which may, or may not, be answered under the previous topic); and (4) the relation between love and valuation. I shall briefly discuss the first three of these issues, but my main concern shall be the last. The question concerning the objects of love is actually several issues which are sometimes confused. Many thinkers have held that there is one proper sort of love object which is not, however, always or exclusively loved by everyone. Such thinkers have to allow that what people actually love, and what they would love if they were moral or prudent, may be different. In this category I would place Plato and Freud. Both hold that we can be mistaken in our love objects, and experience great frustration and despair because of such mistakes. Another distinction must be made. There are thinkers who would insist that, though we may actually love an object that is not worthy of love, we could not ____________________ Reprinted from The Symposium of Plato, Suzy Q Groden, tr., John A. Brentlinger, ed. (Amherst, MA: University of Massachusetts Press, 1970), pp. 113-29; copyright © 1970 by The University of Massachusetts Press. John Brentlinger is in the philosophy department, The University of Massachusetts at Amherst. -136love the object unless we believed it was worthy of love. Plato, again, is an instance of this
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