Philosophy of Love (Fall 2009)
In this course, we will explore several philosophical problems arising from reflection on romantic love. The class will examine problems in general value theory, including: the nature of love, the relationship between value and desire, the rationality of emotion, and the authenticity of desire. We will begin by examining attempts to distinguishing between friendship and romantic love. Then we will evaluate several leading theories of romantic love, paying particular attention to question of whether love is a response to the recognition of value, or if we bestow value through love. Here, we will ask about the relationship between value, belief, and desire. In regards to the nature of love, we will also briefly study theories of the emotions. We will then turn to one of the most important problems in the love literature: Can we rationally justify our love for another? In the final section of the course, we will attempt to account for the prima facie difference between love earned though potions and ordinary love. This will require an account of the authenticity of desire. We will evaluate some of the leading contenders.
The readings will include dozens of articles from contemporary philosophers such as Annette Baier, Harry Frankfurt, Christopher Grau, Simon Keller, Niko Kolodny, Robert Nozick, Martha Nussbaum, Irving Singer, Alan Soble, Robert Solomon, David Velleman, and others. In addition, we will read selections from Aristotle, Montaigne, Schopenhauer, and Sartre, as well as Plato's "Symposium" and "Phaedrus". We will also be reading a few literature works, including poems from Sappho, Yeats, and Berryman, and an excerpt from Don Quixote. We will also read Shakespeare's "A Midsummer Night's Dream."