The Concept of Love in 17th and 18th Century Philosophy

The Concept of Love in 17th and 18th Century Philosophy

Gábor Boros
Herman De Dijn
Martin Moors
Copyright Date: 2007
Published by: Leuven University Press
Pages: 270
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    The Concept of Love in 17th and 18th Century Philosophy
    Book Description:

    “Love is joy with the accompanying idea of an external cause.” Spinoza’s definition of love (Ethics Book 3, Prop. LIX) manifests a major paradigm shift achieved by seventeenth century Europe in which the emotions, formerly seen as normative “forces of nature,” were embraced by the new science of the mind. We are determined to volition by causes. This shift has often been seen as a transition from a philosophy laden with implicit values and assumptions to a more scientific and value-free way of understanding human action. But is this rational approach really value-free? Today we incline to believe that values are inescapable, and that the descriptive-mechanical method implies its own set of values. Yet the assertion by Spinoza, Malebranche, Leibniz, and Enlightenment thinkers that love guides us to wisdom—and even that the love of a God who creates and maintains order and harmony in the world forms the core of ethical behaviour—still resonates powerfully with us. It is, evidently, an idea we are unwilling to relinquish. This collection of insightful essays emerged from two “ContactFora” organized within the framework of the research project Actuality of the Enlightenment: The Moral Science of Emotions, conducted under the auspices of Koninklijke Vlaamse Academie van Belgie voor Wetenschappen en Kunsten. It offers a range of important and fascinating perspectives on how the triumph of “reason” affected not only our scientific-philosophical understanding of the emotions and especially of love, but our everyday understanding as well.

    eISBN: 978-94-6166-018-3
    Subjects: Philosophy

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. 1-2)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. 3-4)
  3. Introduction
    (pp. 5-22)
    G. Boros, H. De Dijn and M. Moors

    Most papers collected in this volume owe their origins, at least partly, to the two “ContactFora” organized within the framework of the research projectActuality of the Enlightenment: the Moral Science of Emotionsby the members of the research group supported generously by Koninklijke Vlaamse Academie van Belgie voor Wetenschappen en Kunsten. The research project was centred on the problem of the interplay between descriptive and normative elements and aspects of Enlightenment emotion theories, a problem that had never been examined in its full range.

    The philosophico-scientific inquiry into emotions (passions or affects, as they were called) in early modern...

  4. Cartesian Subjectivity and Love
    (pp. 23-42)
    Denis Kambouchner

    The title given to this paper might appear, at first, problematic. Everyone knows the extent to which Descartes’ century was concerned with reflections upon love. Descartes was twenty years old and about to finish his studies when Francis de Sales published hisTreatise on the Love of God(1616). He was thirty-two and working on the layout of theRegulaewhen Balthazar Baro, former secretary of Honoré d’Urfé, published theConclusion and the Last Part of Astrée(1628), the novel which remained the seventeenth century’s most popular. At the age of forty-one, Descartes published theDiscourse on the Methodat...

  5. The Role of Amicitia in Political Life
    (pp. 43-54)
    Susan James

    The ancient idea that love consists in an urge to unite oneself to another reverberates throughout the literature of the early-modern period. It is explicated, for example, by Descartes, who explains that, when one is in love, one considers oneself and the object of one’s affection as part of a whole, and cares for this union in the way that one previously cared for oneself.¹ For the most part, however, the unity of lovers is compatible with their distinctness. While Descartes does not rule out the possibility of states in which the boundary between lover and beloved is entirely dissolved,...

  6. L’apparition de l’amour de soi dans l’Éthique
    (pp. 55-68)
    Chantal Jaquet

    Souvent présenté comme un philosophe de la joie, Spinoza devrait plus justement être défini comme un philosophe de l’amour. Toute l’Éthique, en effet, tend à conduire l’homme vers la béatitude ou liberté qui consiste, d’après le scolie de la proposition XXVI de la partie V, «dans un amour constant et éternel envers Dieu, autrement dit dans l’amour de Dieu pour les hommes.» Le caractère fondamental et déterminant de l’amour, que Spinoza assimile, comme chacun sait, à une joie qu’accompagne l’idée d’une cause extérieure¹ est avéré dès les premiers écrits. Dans leTraité de la réforme de l’entendement, Spinoza affirme déjà...

  7. Spinoza über Liebe und Erkenntnis
    (pp. 69-78)
    Wolfgang Bartuschat

    Dem Affekt der Liebe kommt in Spinozas Theorie der Affekte eine besondere Bedeutung zu. Er ist der einzige Affekt, der sich in den Teilen III bis V der „Ethik“ durchhält, also durch das Ganze der Darlegung zur Theorie der Affekte, und er ist der einzige Affekt, mit dem Spinoza das Merkmal vernünftigen Einsehens (intelligere) so eng verknüpft, dass dieser Affekt durch Einsicht selbst definiert werden kann: amor intellectualis. Ich habe diesen Terminus ins Deutsche mit „geistige Liebe“ übersetzt. Denn in „geistig“ geht ein, dass die Liebe allein dem Geist (mens humana) angehört, nicht nur ein Affekt des Geistes ist (das...

  8. Leibniz on Love
    (pp. 79-94)
    Gábor Boros

    We rarely think of Leibniz as a philosopher whose thinking primarily revolved around the passionate relationship we call love. Nevertheless, if we read his works on natural law or practical philosophy, we find the frequency with which he speaks about love (or, say, charity) startling. When imagining the mutually involved, intense relationship between Leibniz and the Prussian Queen Sophie Charlotte, who is not tempted to think about love? In what follows, I shall try to connect the threads running through Leibniz’s remarks on love into an integrated theory of the passions. I shall begin with an investigation into how Leibniz...

  9. Malebranche on Natural and Free Loves
    (pp. 95-112)
    Tad M. Schmaltz

    Love would not seem, initially, to be a promising candidate for a central principle of Cartesian psychology. After all, Descartes portrayed love not as a single phenomenon, but rather as something that can be conceived either as a non-volitional feeling that derives from the body, or as a movement of the will that derives from the mind itself. Even so, there is a unitary conception of love that is at the center of what we could call – somewhat inelegantly – Malebranche’s “Augustinized” version of Cartesian psychology. Malebranche was inspired by Augustine to hold not only that all love pertains...

  10. The Problem of Conscience and Order in the Amour-pur Debate
    (pp. 113-124)
    Dániel Schmal

    The famous ‘amour-pur’ debate – opposing Bossuet to his former protégé, Fénelon, and Nicolas Malebranche to his one-time follower, François Lamy in the last decade of the seventeenth century – can be seen as polarizing the interpretations of the same corpus of traditional texts. Almost all participants in the debate refer to very similar theological formulations of love and call the same authors to witness to bolster their positions. The multiple meanings of the texts and the polysemantic character of the terms gave rise to solutions that pretended to provide the public with authoritative interpretations of the tradition. Inspecting the...

  11. Love of God and Love of Creatures: The Masham-Astell Exchange
    (pp. 125-140)
    Catherine Wilson

    In 1694, Mary Astell (1666–1731) entered into an exchange of eleven long letters with John Norris (1657–1711), the English Platonist, over a principle expounded in hisChristian Blessedness: or Discourses Upon the Beatitudes(1690). The principle was one upon which they both agreed though for different reasons: God alone merits our love and Creatures do not. To this exchange, published in London in 1695 under the titleLetters Concerning the Love of God, between the Author of the Proposal to the Ladies and Mr. John Norris, Damaris Masham neé Cudworth (1659–1708), the longtime friend of John Locke...

  12. The Theory and Regulation of Love in 17th Century Philosophy
    (pp. 141-162)
    Catherine Wilson

    The appetite of English readers in the first half of the 17thcentury for sermons, devotional works, and commentaries on scripture was robust. They consumed information regarding the defects of their souls as avidly as we consume information regarding the defects of our appearances. Concern with appearances was, of course, considered a defect of the soul.

    In the fallen world, the beauty of women was a reminder of Eve’s temptation, Adam’s fatal disobedience, and all the evil and suffering that ensued, down to the martyrdom of Christ. Pierre Du Moulin’s devotional workThéophile ou l’amour divin¹ describes women’s adornment as...

  13. Frances Hutcheson: From moral sense to spectatorial rights
    (pp. 163-180)
    Aaron Garrett

    This essay concerns a particular aspect of Francis Hutcheson’s theory of rights – how the connection between rights and tensions in his own moral sense theory led Hutcheson to stress the importance of adventitious or acquired spectator approved rights, an idea that would be taken up in a different way by Hutcheson’s student and successor Adam Smith. In order to illustrate this I will consider why Frances Hutcheson, alone among British philosophers of this generation, argued for animal rights. I am less concerned here with animal rightsper se¹ as what his discussion of animal rights says about his view...

  14. Philosophy as medicina mentis? Hume and Spinoza on Emotions and Wisdom
    (pp. 181-204)
    Willem Lemmens

    Spinoza and Hume each exemplify a specifically modern version of the classical idea that the practice of philosophy leads to the moderation of man’s passionate nature.² Both integrate this conception of ‘doing philosophy’ as a search for wisdom, into a science which is in harmony with a modern ateleological worldview. But they diverge fundamentally when they spell out how exactly philosophy can lead to wisdom and in what this wisdom consists. In hisEthics, Spinoza presents the study of the relation between God and man, passion and virtue, following a geometrical method, as a form ofmedicina mentis. This method,...

  15. The Depth of the Heart – “even if a bit tumultuous”. On Compassion and Erotic Love in Diderot’s Ethics
    (pp. 205-226)
    Miklós Vassányi

    In the present paper, we propose the thesis that Diderot’s pivotal ethical concept of the “bottom of the heart,” “le fond du coeur,” belongs in the field of a problematic philosophy of the soul conceived as the (relatively) free determining ground and canon of moral action. We shall argue, then, that this ethical conception of the soul, which admits a degree of the freedom of the will, seems, philosophically, rather incompatible with Diderot’s mechanical-deterministic, materialistic natural scientific theory of the soul. While this incompatibility or incoherence emerges in the domain of the philosophy of the soul, there appears a related...

  16. Motivational Internalism: A Kantian Perspective on Moral Motives and Reasons
    (pp. 227-244)
    Heiner F. Klemme

    The modern debate about moral motivation concerns two alternative conceptions of motivation. On the one side, there is an internalist account of moral motivation. This account says that practical reasons are internal to our desires, interests, or dispositions. Because desires, interests or dispositions are empirical and causal powers, to know a moral reason means at the same time to be motivated in a certain way. Typically, students of David Hume are internalists.² On the other hand, there are externalist accounts of moral motivation. Externalists claim that moral reasons are not – or not exclusively – founded on desires and interests,...

  17. Kant on: “Love God above all, and your neighbour as yourself”
    (pp. 245-270)
    Martin Moors

    Hegel’s criticisms of Kant’s practical philosophy are based on, first, “the emptiness of the categorical imperative,”² and, second, Kant’s doctrine of the postulates, especially the postulation of the existence of God.³

    In the ‘Analytic’ of theCritique of Practical Reason, Kant establishes the moral principle of the higher faculty of desire with regard to both its subjective and objective determination. There, Kant states in allegedly ‘empty’ terms the well-known objective law of the universalizability of maxims and the subjective law of respect for this law. Furthermore, in the ‘Dialectic’ of the same work, Kant is puzzled, within his formal theory...