Philosophy of Love

What is Love?
Why is Love?

Step 1: Defining Love


Ordinary Language Philosophy


Big Brains in Definitions

Back to Love

  1. I love chocolate
  2. I love doing philosophy
  3. I love my dog
  4. I love my spouse

Eros Agape Philia



  • Brotherly love
  • Spontaneous and unmotivated
  • Creates value in the loved


  • Affectionate regard
  • Response to qualities in the loved

Loving vs Liking

What is the difference?


The choice between one potential love and another can feel, and be, like a choice of a way of life, a decision to dedicate oneself to these values rather than these ~ Nussbaum

Some Theories of Love

  • Love as Union
  • Love as Robust Concern
  • Love as Valuing
  • Love as Emotion

Love as Union

  • The lovers become a “we,” a community
  • Redefine their identities as a relationship
  • Desire to form a reciprocated “we”
  • Federation

Love as Robust Concern

  • Love is volitional
  • Concern for the other
  • Concern for the relationship with the other

Love as Valuing

  1. Appraisal
  2. Bestowal

Valuing: Appraisal

  • Love is appraisal
  • Kant: Respect arrests our self-love
  • Velleman: Love arrests our emotional self-defense

Valuing: Bestowal

  • Project intrinsic value
  • Attitude, without objective
  • Some valuation, not “blind submission”

Both: Deep Improvisation

  • Finding each other together
  • Recognize and Respond to each others value

Love as Emotion

  1. Emotion Proper
  2. Emotion Complex

Emotion Proper

  • Phenomenological component
  • Occurrent mental states as a response to valuations
  • Love is positive “feeling towards”

Emotion Complex

  • “Narrative History”
  • Complex tying-together of emotion
  • Overall emotional orientation
  • Dynamic Permeability: Loves changes you
  • Person-focused emotion

Why do we Love?

  • Promotes self-knowledge
  • Well-being
  • No reason

Main Concerns of Love

  1. What, if anything, justifies my loving rather than not loving this particular person?
  2. What, if anything, justifies my coming to love this particular person rather than someone else?
  3. What, if anything, justifies my continuing to love this particular person given the changes—both in him and me and in the overall circumstances—that have occurred since I began loving him?

Walking Back: Personal

  • Love is an expansion of the self into the infinite
  • Like a happy horcrux
  • Love as the egoistic bestowal of value


  1. How do you think of love?
  2. Why do we love?
  3. Why do we love certain people in particular?
  4. How would the world be without love?
  5. How does self-love fit with these conceptions?
  6. Should this be how we investigate love?
  7. How do they relate to friendly and religious love?
  8. How do they relate to love of an activity of thing?
  9. What has been your experience with love?
  10. What is hate? Does it relate to love?
  11. How important is it? How important should it be?
  12. How do you express love?