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Love and Beauty

Love and Beauty

Copyright Date: 1989
Pages: 260
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  • Book Info
    Love and Beauty
    Book Description:

    Building on concepts developed in his previously published New Theory of Beauty, Guy Sircello constructs a bold and provocative theory of love in which the objects of love are the qualities that "bear" beauty and the pleasure of all love is "erotic," without being "sexual." The theory reveals a continuity of subject matter between premodern notions of love and modern notions of aesthetic pleasure, thus providing grounds for criticizing modern tendencies to isolate the aesthetic both culturally and psychologically and to separate it from its home in the human body.

    The author begins with an analysis of enjoyment that reduces all enjoyment to the enjoyment of the "experience of qualities." He explains how we experience qualities as "circulating" in a special form of "space" that includes our own bodies, the external world, and their interpenetration. Sircello generalizes this analysis to encompass all forms of love and grounds the pleasure of all love--aesthetic or nonaesthetic, personal or nonpersonal, sexual or nonsexual--in an experience of the form of an "overall bodily caress."

    Originally published in 1989.

    ThePrinceton Legacy Libraryuses the latest print-on-demand technology to again make available previously out-of-print books from the distinguished backlist of Princeton University Press. These paperback editions preserve the original texts of these important books while presenting them in durable paperback editions. The goal of the Princeton Legacy Library is to vastly increase access to the rich scholarly heritage found in the thousands of books published by Princeton University Press since its founding in 1905.

    eISBN: 978-1-4008-6017-3
    Subjects: Religion, Philosophy

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)

    • 1. Reviving Love
      (pp. 3-7)

      Beauty is the best and most delightful part of our world, and in loving the best of the beautiful, we are the happiest and best of creatures. Without the love of even the slightest kind of beauty, we are less happy and less good than we otherwise might be, and of nothing other than beauty can this be said. Loving beauty is therefore of the utmost importance.

      Thoughts like these are not new in the West, even if the above formulation of them is. Plato already probably had such thoughts, even if he did not express them in these terms.¹...

    • 2. Pleasure and Enjoyment
      (pp. 7-11)

      Because enjoyment is close kin to pleasure, it can seem to be the same thing. What we enjoy, after all, is what we take pleasure in, and our taking pleasure in it seems, on the face of it, to come to nothing but our enjoyment of it. Moreover, whatever is pleasant seems preeminently, even necessarily, enjoyable, so much so that “pleasant” and “enjoyable” can function as synonyms in some contexts. It is possible to speak of either a pleasant or an enjoyable day at West Street Beach, or visit to the French Quarter, or encounter with a stranger in Central...

    • 3. Enjoyment and Desire
      (pp. 11-18)

      The reason involves no limitations of body or will. The reason is a categorial limitation; propositional pleasure is not the sort of thing, conceptually speaking, that is directly effectable by resolve or effort. The reason for this, in turn, is reflected in another grammatical feature of propositional pleasure: it is described in thepassive voice. Thus my being pleased, delighted, overjoyed, and so forth seems, simply in virtue of the grammatical form in which I must describe it, not something that I do, but something thathappens to me. Of course, my propositional pleasures do not just happen to me...

    • 4. The Experience of Enjoyment
      (pp. 18-20)

      But even if my enjoying a thing cannot simply be a way of being pleased that, say, I am doing that thing, we cannot deny that desire and its satisfaction have parts to play, however complex, in a complete analysis of enjoyment.19Our experience of our own enjoyment tells us so. Take lovemaking, for example, and the enjoyment thereof. Lovemaking, one would think, is the last place to look for desireless pleasure, and of course that is right. A common scenario is: I see the beautiful beloved from afar, burn with desire for him, scheme to meet him, touch him,...

    • 5. The Desire for Immortality
      (pp. 20-23)

      As a step toward answering these questions, suppose the following: In enjoying a thing it is both necessary and sufficient that the enjoyer be engaged in an activityRthatcauses the enjoyer to desire to continue doing it indefinitely. IfRexists and we can identify it, then we can answer questions 2 through 4 affirmatively. For we can construct a theoretical definition of enjoyment as anactivity, which, like most activities, we can try or resolve to do. Furthermore, although under these conditions enjoyment would have to be understood partially in terms of desire partially satisfied, enjoyment would...

    • 6. The Enjoyment of Experience
      (pp. 23-28)

      When, on a particular occasion, I enjoy cooking, dancing, or hiking, hardly ever do I enjoy everything about that cooking, dancing, or hiking. I do not enjoy, for example, the hot oil splashing on my arm, the heel wound on my toe, the mosquito bites. So it is relevant to ask, of any particular activity or state or condition that I enjoyed or am enjoying, justwhatI enjoyed or am enjoyingaboutit. There are a wide variety of possible answers to this kind of question, and in what follows I shall try to make some sense of that...


    • 7. Experience and Quality
      (pp. 31-36)

      The enjoyment of enjoyed experiences may be further reduced to a special kind of enjoyed experience—an experience whose “object” is a special property that I call inA New Theory of Beautya property of qualitative degree, or PQD.23Of the examples of enjoyed experiences I have already given, the following are experiences of PQDs: feeling the firmness of the fresh produce, feeling the tenderness of the produce, hearing the rural stillness, seeing or hearing the excitement of the crowd, seeing the intensity of the other dancers’ faces, seeing the abandon of the other dancers’ bodies, feeling the abandon...

    • 8. Eschewing the Metaphysics of Qualities
      (pp. 36-38)

      My theory of Love, like my theory of beauty, rests squarely on the notion of quality. Many questions might be raised about what we can roughly call the metaphysics of qualities:Arethere qualities? What is it for an “object” tohavea quality? What makes the experience of an “object” having a qualityveridicalor not? Can any distinction ultimately be made between a veridical and a nonveridical experience of a quality? Do all sentient beings experience all of the “same” qualities? Any of the “same” qualities? Do allhumanbeings?Canthey experience the “same” qualities? What, after...

    • 9. The World of Qualities
      (pp. 38-43)

      We can categorize the qualities of our world in many ways. The way I choose is both illuminating of our experience of qualities, as I shall show later, and useful for my theoretical purposes, as I shall eventually argue. My way of structuring this world starts with a person who is an experiencer of that world, for example, myself. I describe the categories in terms of some particular (human) experiencer of qualities, but I mean the structure of categories to apply to all (human) experiencers of qualities.

      (1) One kind of quality of which I have experience comprises the qualities...

    • 10. Sameness of Quality: A Problem
      (pp. 43-47)

      The above four categories show us, incidentally, that qualities, as a class of properties, can belong to an enormous range of “objects”: natural and artificial, human and nonhuman, mental and nonmental, real and unreal. But not only are there great differences among the kinds of “objects” to which qualities in general can belong; there are also great differences among the “objects” to which a single quality can belong. The last fact is reflected in, though it is not identical with, the fact that the same quality-words apply to “objects” in all four of the above categories. I can jump boldly...

    • 11. Sameness of Quality: A Solution
      (pp. 48-52)

      The result of this discussion is that if we experience sameness of quality at all among different “objects,” there is no reason why we cannot experience sameness in quality, in general if not in every particular case, across all the four categories distinguished earlier. On the other hand, even clearly and indubitably experienced sameness of quality can seem, upon analysis, to be groundless. But if so, what is the correct determination of sameness among qualities in our world?

      The question is not simply, or even primarily, of abstract metaphysical interest. It is centrally relevant to the experience of enjoyment and...


    • 12. An Introduction to Expansion Experiences
      (pp. 55-56)

      The above principle of sameness of quality does not entail or, if carefully applied, result in randomness, irrationality, or even unmanageable irregularity. Human beings being pretty much alike in their physical makeup and operations, we should find in the realm of experiencing qualities, when we assume the above principle, generally what we in fact find: a fair amount of sharing of enjoyments, a fair amount of communicating thoughts about qualities via language, and a fair amount of reliable prediction of one another’s enjoyments in particular cases, even when we do not share those enjoyments. In this and succeeding sections I...

    • 13. Arousals
      (pp. 56-61)

      I shall call expansion experiences of one type “arousals,” or “arousal experiences.” The objects of such experiences are, characteristically,our ownemotions, moods, feelings, or sentiments and anything else sufficiently like these. But the experiences I am calling arousals are distinguishable in three ways from the general class of experiences of our own emotions, moods, feelings, and sentiments. First, they are experiences of these things from the “inside” only; they are not experiences of our own behavior that we might have by seeing, hearing, or touching ourselves as we are expressing or acting out such emotions, moods, feelings, or sentiments....

    • 14. Arousals and Motions of the Soul
      (pp. 61-67)

      Arousal experiences confront us with a problem of the one-and-many. We feel our anger, melancholy, boldness, or compassion—successively or simultaneously—in many ways and in many “parts” within us. And yet, in a given arousal experience, it is clearly the “same” anger, melancholy, boldness, or compassion that we feel. In terms of my analytic construal of arousals, the latter consist of many experiences of the “same” quality possessed by different “objects,” that is, different act-beginnings.38But the problem here is a problem only because the various manifestations of the “same” quality in a single arousal are so various as...

    • 15. Preparations
      (pp. 67-75)

      “Preparations” are like arousals in that they are experienced internally and are accompanied by little or no externally detectable action of our own. Furthermore, they typically are, though they need not be, preludes to manifesting a corresponding quality in our own external acts. Now, although these “corresponding qualities”may bequalities of emotion or mood, they may also be purely qualities of movement—gracefulness, delicacy, firmness, and so forth. Such experiences characteristically occur in contexts of play, of drama, of theater, or of pretense. But they may also occur in circumstances when it is important to summon one’s resources to...

    • 16. Expressions
      (pp. 75-78)

      Arousals and preparations are, by definition, truncated experiences. For in the typical case, both arousal experiences and preparation experiences immediately precede the manifestation of their respective qualities in our outward behavior. Of such behavior, of course, we also have experience; we have in fact both “internal” or kinaesthetic experience of it and, frequently if not always, external experience of it. That is to say, we have bodily sensations of our own expressive behavior, but we also can, and often do, experience our own expressive behavior by means of the “external” senses of sight, touch, and hearing. Now, the experience we...

    • 17. Penetrations of the External World
      (pp. 78-83)

      By imagining an arousal or a preparation leading into behavior thatexhibitsthe same qualities figuring in the arousal or preparation, we can conceive of the sort of expansion experience I call an expression. In this section I want to add three new kinds of experiences to my catalogue of expansion experiences. The three differ significantly from one another, but they share a common feature. Let us imagine the “motion” of an arousal, a preparation, or an expression “continuing” on and “generating” the “same” quality in one or more nonhuman “objects” of the experiencer’s external world. The problem of the...

    • 18. Influences
      (pp. 83-87)

      In this section I describe and illustrate a kind of expansion experience I call “influence.” There are two main sorts: our influencing others and others’ influencing us. To understand the first sort, imagine either a preparation or an arousal leading on immediately to an expression experience and the expression experience continuing in the presence of another person in such a way that the quality you experience in yourself is experienced (by you) as generating that very quality “spreading” in the other. We may also call such complex experiences “experiences of influence.”

      Experiences of influence again escalate the severity of the...

    • 19. Penetrations from the External World
      (pp. 87-92)

      Just as, in the second variety of influence, we can experience the qualities of other persons generating precisely those qualities in us, either in our external behavior or as felt “within us,” so, too, we may have experiences in which qualities that we perceive in things and events of the nonhuman world seem to “penetrate” us, so that we feel those very qualities within ourselves, sometimes even to the point of feeling them and perceiving them in our own more or less external behavior. I call such experiences “penetrations,” or “penetration experiences,” and I shall be concerned here not so...

    • 20. The Directions of Expansion
      (pp. 92-95)

      Thus far I have argued that it is possible to have expansion experiences with respect to qualities that fall into two classes: (1) qualities of emotion, mood, feeling, or sentiment; and (2) qualities that can describe human motion, movement, or behavior but do not fall within the first class. I now point out a feature of all the expansion experiences I have described, namely, their “directionality.” By this I mean that the perceived movement of the experienced quality in an expansion experience seems to proceedfrom“somewhere”to“somewhere else.”46Thus in arousals and preparations we experience qualities moving “through”...

    • 21. The Expansion of Moral Qualities
      (pp. 95-98)

      Examples of moral qualities are the following: generosity, compassion, benevolence, honesty, justice, dutifulness, responsibility, truthfulness, courage. Finding expansion experiences with respect to such qualities would seem, prima facie, to be impossible. After all, such qualities are attributable primarily to persons and to them, it seems, primarily on the basis of kinds of actions they perform. And while such moral actions usually involve some bodily movements, they would not seem to involve necessarily movements of a certain “character.” That is to say, they would not seem to require characteristic movements that mark them as, say, honest or generous. Thus we would...

    • 22. The Expansion of Mental Qualities
      (pp. 98-102)

      I divide what I call “mental qualities” into three subclasses. Let us consider the primary “objects” to which qualities in the first two classes belong to be human acts. There are thus “flashy” qualities, like brilliance, wittiness, insightfulness, cleverness, clarity, imaginativeness, shrewdness, and inventiveness. And, second, there are “sober” qualities, like prudence, efficiency, soundness (as of judgments), sensibleness, reasonableness, rationality, and wisdom. Obviously, qualities of these groups can also belong to persons themselves and to their “products,” like arguments, books, advice, statements, or theories. Qualities in the third class I call “derivative mental qualities.” Qualities in this group might belong...

    • 23. Claritas and Expansion
      (pp. 102-107)

      Some of the kinds of qualities considered thus far may seem to belong primarily to human beings and their acts: qualities of emotion, mood, feeling, or sentiment, qualities of movement, and moral and mental qualities. My argument for the possibility of expansion experiences with respect to these qualities, therefore, has proceeded from the possibility of our experiencing them when they apply to ourselves. But there are some qualities that seem at least prima facie to apply exclusively to “objects” other than ourselves and specifically to nonhuman “objects.” Such qualities might seem to provide counterexamples to my general thesis about qualities...

    • 24. Nights of Love
      (pp. 107-116)

      Mention of closing a figure recalls an implication, suggested from the very beginning of my exposition of expansion experiences, of the multidirectionality of those experiences. With a little imagination we can see that instances of all the kinds of expansion experiences characterized earlier can occur in such a way that they are joined together, as it were, to make a longer composite expansion experience. Thus an arousal or a preparation can lead to an empathy, extension, marking, or influence in the external world, which can, in turn, lead to an influence from the world back to us, or to penetrations...


    • 25. Love and Reproduction
      (pp. 119-125)

      I am ready to construct a theory of enjoyment, or Love, as I am calling it. Recall from Section 5 that this requires us to discover some activity at the core of Love in which the Lover desires to engage indefinitely. As a step toward that discovery, then, I now introduce the notion of “producing” an experience of a quality. A basic element in this concept is that the subject that “produces” such an experience can “produce” it only in himself; that is, one subject cannot “produce” an experience of a quality in another subject. Second, the notion of “producing”...

    • 26. Some Observations about Love and Reproduction
      (pp. 125-132)

      While NTL encompasses necessary and sufficient conditions for anyone’s enjoyment of his own experience of qualities, it offers only necessary conditions for his enjoyment of all other kinds of “objects.” In this regard NTL parallels the New Theory of Beauty (NTB). NTB lays down necessary and sufficient conditions for the beauty of qualities, but only necessary conditions for the beauty of “objects” other than qualities. The reasons are analogous in the two cases. A given “object” may have one or more beautiful features, but will also almost always have features that are not beautiful. Thus whether the presence of beautiful...

    • 27. Some Corroborating Experiences
      (pp. 132-138)

      In this section and the next I discuss (1) certain kinds of cases of enjoyment and how NTL comprehends them and (2) certain kinds ofdescriptionsof enjoyment and how NTL interprets them. These discussions are intended to show not only how NTL applies to a variety of cases of enjoyment, but also how NTL is consonant with some common ways of describing enjoyment, as well as how NTL “accounts for” both those cases and those descriptions.

      A characteristic way of enjoying something, especially a simple quality, is to “savor” it. Savoring, of course, is most at home in the...

    • 28. Further Corroborations
      (pp. 138-145)

      There are yet more connections between enjoyment and uninhibited behavior. Generally speaking, we think of a person as enjoying a given activity if his performance thereof is more expansive, less restrained than if he were not enjoying it. A person really enjoying an activity does it “all out”; he “gets into it.” These phrases connote the special enthusiasm, verve, intensity, or involvement that enjoyment brings to an activity. The question for NTL, of course, is how, if at all, the latter kinds of “uninhibited” activity are interpretable in terms of the key theoretical notion of “reproduction.” The connection, I believe,...

    • 29. The Love of Virtue
      (pp. 145-153)

      Since it applies to all qualities, NTL applies to moral qualities as well. But this raises several questions. First, what are characteristic cases in which moral qualities are “reproduced”? Second, what does the term “Love” mean when applied to the reproduction of moral qualities? Can “Love” in such cases mean “enjoy”? If not, what does it mean? Does “Love” always mean the same thing when applied to cases of the reproduction of moral qualities? In this section and the next two I shall try to answer these questions. In doing so I hope not only to illuminate a range of...

    • 30. Moral Self-Indulgence
      (pp. 153-158)

      My aim in the previous section was to isolate the concept and phenomena of loving virtueas an “occurrence.”For NTL comprehends directly such phenomena, which we can call “occurrent love,” but not “dispositional love.” Just so, NTL directly comprehends “occurrent enjoyment,” but not “dispositional enjoyment.”65But for expository purposes I found it more suitable first to introduce the phenomena of dispositional love of virtue. I want now to emphasize, however, that the dispositional love of virtue and the occurrent love of virtue are not necessarily linked. For just as it may happen, on an occasion, that I enjoy gardening...

    • 31. Loving Others
      (pp. 158-162)

      Thus far I have discussed the Love of moral qualities in ourselves. But we can also Love moral qualities in others. Some of these “others” exist in fiction or art; others are our friends and lovers.

      Moral qualities in artistic contexts often belong to characters in literature and theatrical pieces. And when such characters are “sympathetic,” we often “feel the same” as they. Still, it sounds a little odd to say that when we felt within ourselves the loving tenderness, the noble courage, or the self-sacrificing discipline of the heroine or hero, we wereenjoyingthose qualities in the character....


    • 32. A Comprehensive Theory of Love
      (pp. 165-172)

      Thus far I have argued that NTL comprehends a variety of phenomena that are straightforwardly, or at least arguably, called “love.” I have also argued that some clear and central cases of love—namely, the love we have for friends and lovers in virtue of certain of their moral and other personal qualities—are comprehended by NTL. From the latter arguments it is clear, I trust, how all cases of love or friendship for a human being—or any sentient being, for that matter—fall under NTL when what is lovedaboutthat being is one or more of its...

    • 33. Love and Sex
      (pp. 172-179)

      I have suggested in many ways how NTL applies to sexual love. But I want now to draw out explicitly some implications that NTL has for such love. First, just as NTL applies primarily tooccasionsof enjoyment, NTL applies primarily tooccasionsof sexual love. And occasions of sexual love are, simply, incidents of “making love.” The core of making love is body touching body, whether one person’s body, two persons’ bodies, or more are involved. Nevertheless, no touching at all need be involved in making love; if fantasizing is a part of almost all cases of making love,...

    • 34. Loving Pain
      (pp. 179-183)

      The New Theory of Love reveals to us a richly lovable world. It begins as an account of what wein factlove, which may be, depending upon who we are and our circumstances, a more or less meager portion of our world. But it ends by telling us what is “inherently” enjoyable and lovable in our worlds, namely, qualities, whether we have ever enjoyed or loved them all or not. Even though NTL cannot tell us each what and where those lovable qualities are in our worlds, we can easily see that our worlds are brimming over with qualities....

    • 35. Loving Evil
      (pp. 183-189)

      Closely related to the unpleasant and the painful is a set of phenomena that NTL might appear to exclude necessarily from the universe of Lovable things—namely, our experiences of properties of qualitative degree that are properties of defect, deficiency, or lack, or of the “appearance” of such. For NTL offers necessary and sufficient conditions for the enjoyment only of the experience of qualities that by their very definition exclude the aforementioned properties (which for convenience in this discussion I shall label “negative qualities”). Now, the latter exclusion raises some questions: Might there not be cases of enjoying experiences of...

    • 36. The Ethics of Love
      (pp. 189-191)

      The love of “evil”—of negative qualities in general—raises in a poignant way a series of questions, at least some of which philosophies of love have traditionally tried to answer: What or whom is it right to love? And under what conditions? Which loves are better, which worse? Which loves are more important, which less important? Which more worthwhile? More proper? More genuine? More sublime? Truer? Holier? All of these are questions in what I shall simply baptize the “Ethics of Love.”77

      The New Theory of Love is not a theory in the Ethics of Love, nor does it,...

    • 37. The Touch of Experience
      (pp. 191-198)

      My qualifications, interpretations, and applications of NTL are finished. But its explication and justification are not. Two big questions about the formulations of NTL in Section 25 need answers. According to those formulations, reproductions of experiences of a quality are definitive of the Love of that quality only insofar as the desire for such reproduction is both aroused and satisfied in and by that very reproductive activity. I must specify, thus, the conditions under which the reproduction of an experience of a quality will both arouse and satisfy a desire for such reproduction. Second, I must try to explainwhy...

    • 38. Anteclimax
      (pp. 199-202)

      But why, finally,isthe experiencing of expansion pleasant? What is pleasant about the facts (1) that such experiencing is felt as “movement” through the body, (2) that it can be felt “in all parts” of the body, (3) that it is felt as “smooth” or “easy,” and (4) that it is felt as “soft” or “gentle”? We might think that no more complex answer is called for here than to acknowledge that to feel smoothness and gentleness in many places “in” our bodies and sometimes even “all over” simplyispleasant, and that to inquire further into what is...

    • 39. Anticlimax
      (pp. 202-210)

      Experiencing an expansion is, in just the ways that it is like the inner form of being caressed easily and gently, such as to generate sexual feelings. Many cases of such experiencing actually do generate such feelings; many do not. But even those that do not, fail to do so only, as it were, because of accidents of time and place; they do not last long enough, they are not “located” in the right places, or both. In these ways, too, experiencing an expansion is like the inner form of being caressed easily and gently. Furthermore, even when the experiencing...

  8. Notes
    (pp. 211-250)
  9. Index
    (pp. 251-253)