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The Reasons of Love

The Reasons of Love

Harry G. Frankfurt
Copyright Date: 2004
Edition: STU - Student edition
Pages: 112
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  • Book Info
    The Reasons of Love
    Book Description:

    This beautifully written book by one of the world's leading moral philosophers argues that the key to a fulfilled life is to pursue wholeheartedly what one cares about, that love is the most authoritative form of caring, and that the purest form of love is, in a complicated way, self-love.

    Harry Frankfurt writes that it is through caring that we infuse the world with meaning. Caring provides us with stable ambitions and concerns; it shapes the framework of aims and interests within which we lead our lives. The most basic and essential question for a person to raise about the conduct of his or her life is not what he or she should care about but what, in fact, he or she cannot help caring about.

    The most important form of caring, Frankfurt writes, is love, a nonvoluntary, disinterested concern for the flourishing of what is loved. Love is so important because meaningful practical reasoning must be grounded in ends that we do not seek only to attain other ends, and because it is in loving that we become bound to final ends desired for their own sakes.

    Frankfurt argues that the purest form of love is self-love. This sounds perverse, but self-love--as distinct from self-indulgence--is at heart a disinterested concern for whatever it is that the person loves. The most elementary form of self-love is nothing more than the desire of a person to love. Insofar as this is true, self-love is simply a commitment to finding meaning in our lives.

    eISBN: 978-1-4008-2606-3
    Subjects: Philosophy

Table of Contents

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  1. One The Question: “How Should We Live?”
    (pp. 1-32)

    1 We have it on the authority both of Plato and of Aristotle that philosophy began in wonder. People wondered about various natural phenomena that they found surprising. They also puzzled over what struck them as curiously recalcitrant logical, or linguistic, or conceptual problems that turned up unexpectedly in the course of their thinking. As an example of what led him to wonder, Socrates mentions the fact that it is possible for one person to become shorter than another without shrinking in height. We might wonder why Socrates should have been made at all uncomfortable by such a shallow paradox....

  2. Two On Love, and Its Reasons
    (pp. 33-68)

    1 There has recently been quite a bit of interest among philosophers in issues concerning whether our conduct must invariably be guided strictly by universal moral principles, which we apply impartially in all situations, or whether favoritism of one sort or another may sometimes be reasonable. In fact, we do not always feel that it is necessary or important for us to be meticulously evenhanded. The situation strikes us differently when our children, or our countries, or our most cherished personal ambitions are at stake. We commonly think that it is appropriate, and perhaps even obligatory, to favor certain people...

  3. Three The Dear Self
    (pp. 69-100)

    1 There are some things that practically no one can help caring about. For the most part, this is all to the good. It would generally be agreed that, with regard to many of the things that are almost universally loved, it is in fact desirable that everyone love them. We are encouragingly reassured by the fact that nearly all of us love living, love our children, love being in rewarding relationships with others, and so on. The more or less unlimited incidence of these predilections is, we believe, a benign feature of human nature. It ensures that practically everyone...