Eros, Agape, and Philia: Readings in the Philosophy of Love

Eros, Agape, and Philia: Readings in the Philosophy of Love

Eros, Agape, and Philia: Readings in the Philosophy of Love

Eros, Agape, and Philia: Readings in the Philosophy of Love

Synopsis

The philosophy of love For centuries, popular writers and respected scholars have written about and analyzed the phenomenon of love without exhausting its potential for contemporary debate. By representing the three major traditions in the philosophy of love--Platonic eros, Christian agape, and Aristotelian philia--editor Alan Soble has not only examined the intellectual problem of what "love" is, but has designed a dialogue among the three traditions in genuine philosophical style. "Eros is acquisitive, egocentric or even selfish; agape is a giving love. Eros is an unconstant, unfaithful love, while agape is unwavering and continues to give despite ingratitude. Eros is a love that responds to the merit or value of its object; while agape creates value in its object as a result of loving it... Finally, eros is an ascending love, the human's route to God; agape is a descending love, God's route to humans... Philia is caught between eros and agape."--From the Introduction to Eros, Agape and Philia

ISSUES EXPLORED: --What is the state of love today as seen through the eyes of Plato, Aristotle, and Paul? --How do relations between the sexes illustrate the difficulties of love? --What are the nature and effects of exclusivity, reciprocity, and constancy? --What are the conceptual and psychological ties between sex and love? --Does it make any sense to think of love in moral terms?>

Excerpt

Soon after editing The Philosophy of Sex: Contemporary Readings, I planned a companion volume of essays, of similar quality and philosophical sophistication, on love. My intention was to show that, behind our ordinary beliefs about and our everyday practice of love, there are intellectual puzzles that demand careful thought. I found that my undergraduate courses in the philosophy of sex were missing something, at least in the assigned readings (even in the Symposium), but not in the minds and questions of students, and hence not in my attempts to lecture, sans supporting texts, in response to these questions. How does this philosophical inquiry into the logical structure, psychological nature, and social morality of sexual desire and activity feed into a broader perspective that includes love? At the same time, however, the independent importance of love, or of the concept "love," had become more pressing to me. I was in the frame of mind (not totally unwarranted) that love was a phenomenon or concept that could, and perhaps should, be studied in its own right, for it is not obviously true that love and sex are "really" the same thing or that love and sex, logically, psychologically, or morally presuppose each other. Love is such a rich phenomenon, provoking questions in ontology, epistemology, the philosophy of mind, theology and philosophy of religion, that to restrict the investigation of its many forms and dimensions to the ties between love and sexuality is to commit a painful conceptual truncation.

For reasons that might be altogether transparent to some people, but which I

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