Love's Vision

Love's Vision

Troy Jollimore
Copyright Date: 2011
Pages: 220
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  • Book Info
    Love's Vision
    Book Description:

    Love often seems uncontrollable and irrational, but we just as frequently appear to have reasons for loving the people we do. InLove's Vision, Troy Jollimore offers a new way of understanding love that accommodates both of these facts, arguing that love is guided by reason even as it resists and sometimes eludes rationality. At the same time, he reconsiders love's moral status, acknowledging its moral dangers while arguing that it is, at heart, a moral phenomenon--an emotion that demands empathy and calls us away from excessive self-concern. Love is revealed as neither wholly moral nor deeply immoral, neither purely rational nor profoundly irrational. Rather, as Diotima says in Plato's Symposium, love is "something in between."

    Jollimore makes his case by proposing a "vision" view of love, according to which loving is a way of seeing that involves bestowing charitable attention on a loved one. This view recognizes the truth in the cliché "love is blind," but holds that love's blindness does not undermine the idea that love is guided by reason. Reasons play an important role in love even if they rest on facts that are not themselves rationally justifiable.

    Filled with illuminating examples from literature,Love's Visionis an original examination of a subject of vital philosophical and human concern.

    eISBN: 978-1-4008-3867-7
    Subjects: Philosophy

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-viii)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. ix-x)
    (pp. xi-xviii)
    (pp. xix-xxii)
  5. one “Something In Between”: On the Nature of Love
    (pp. 1-27)

    Is it necessary to begin a book about love by arguing for love’s centrality, if not its supremacy, among the values at which human beings aim and by which they order their lives? This fact seems to be acknowledged on nearly all hands. If anything, it may be that we place too much emphasis on love—or, at any rate, that we expect too much of it. In his memoirKafka Was the Rage, the essayist Anatole Broyard recalls telling his analyst that what he wanted was what many people want and think it reasonable to expect: to be utterly...

  6. two Love’s Blindness (1): Love’s Closed Heart
    (pp. 28-45)

    I will develop the vision view in a way that avoids the four problems of rationalism delineated in the previous chapter: the universality problem, the promiscuity problem, the trading-up problem, and the inconstancy problem. Not everyone agrees that these are genuine problems; hyper-rationalists, after all, are prepared to bite the bullet by allowing that reasons for loving should be universal; that lovers should be promiscuous or else prepared to trade in their beloved for a better model; and that lovers ought to abandon their beloveds when they lose their love-grounding properties.

    In Plato’sSymposium, Diotima (via Socrates) describes what she...

  7. three Love’s Blindness (2): Love’s Friendly Eye
    (pp. 46-73)

    According to the vision view, love is a unique and very particular way of seeing. As noted in chapter 1, the process of falling in love can feel like a transformation—a transformation in, among other things, how the beloved is seen. The kind of attention paid to the beloved is distinguished in part—but only in part—by its being more intense and of a higher degree than the attention paid to other things. Consider the following description of first love, from Nicole Krauss’s novelThe History of Love:

    But now she seemed different to me. I became aware...

  8. four Beyond Comparison
    (pp. 74-94)

    William James once wrote that “the very best of men must not only be insensible, but ludicrously and peculiarly insensible, to many goods.”¹ In chapter 2 I applied the neo-Aristotelian idea that virtue involves being insensible to certain goods—the potential gains of immorality, for example—to the case of love, and I argued that love, too, involves a lack of sensitivity to certain values. To love a person is to regard her as special: not to believe, implausibly, that she is objectively more valuable and attractive than any other human being, but rather to refuse to objectively compare her...

  9. five Commitments, Values, and Frameworks
    (pp. 95-122)

    According to the vision view, one person’s love for another is a positive response to her value and involves a positive assessment of at least some of her valuable features. Some antirationalists, as we have seen, deny this on the basis that if love were a positive response to the beloved’s features, then the lover would be rationally obligated to respond in the same way to those features wherever they were found—and thus, rationally obligated to love anyone who possessed those features. If such consequences really do follow from the vision view, then we should reject it, simply on...

  10. six Valuing Persons
    (pp. 123-145)

    In chapter 1 I suggested that we should see love as “something in between”—between the purely arational phenomenon the antirationalists believe it to be and the hyper-rationalistic phenomenon they assume it would have to be were it a matter of reason. Love is in fact a matter of reason, I have been arguing; but this must be understood in a way that avoids the unacceptable implications of hyper-rationalism and preserves the main antirationalist insights. The account of love I have been developing—the vision view—is centered on the idea that loving someone is a way of opening one’s...

  11. seven Love and Morality
    (pp. 146-168)

    It is human nature to have high hopes for love: to expect it to save us or transform our existence, to make us into complete, fulfilled people, to fill the gaps in our characters, our lives, or our souls. And when it turns out that love cannot live up to these expectations (and really, what could?), some people turn angrily and resentfully against it, declaring it a sham and a hoax, writing it off as worthless. Both attitudes—expecting everything and expecting nothing—are unreasonable, and we would do better to learn to avoid them. Love is unlikely to give...

  12. afterword Between the Universal and the Particular
    (pp. 169-172)

    One of the large questions left hanging at the end of chapter 1 was whether love and morality can be reconciled. My answer may be seen as a qualified yes. Love is an inherently moral phenomenon and so in that sense is more than reconcilable with morality—it is a part of morality and expresses a profound moral insight. But there are other parts of morality, based on other insights, with which the morality of love cannot be reconciled. When we love, we recognize and respond to certain moral values, those connected to the individual considered in herself, while closing...

  13. NOTES
    (pp. 173-188)
    (pp. 189-194)
  15. INDEX
    (pp. 195-197)