Existentialism and Romantic Love
by Skye C Cleary – Paperback ~$60
This book is an existential study of romantic loving. It draws on five existential philosophers to offer insights into what is wrong with our everyday ideas about romantic loving, why reality often falls short of the ideal, sources of frustrations and disappointments, and possibilities for creating authentically meaningful relationships.
Skye Cleay argues that existential philosophies reveal to us the notion that once lovers free themselves from preconceived ideals about how romantic lovers ought to behave and free themselves from being slaves to their passions, they will be free to create relationships that complement and enhance their personal, authentic endeavors. Existential thinking lends itself well to the problems of love since it tums abstract thought into dealing with concrete human experiences and relationship choices. It provides the narrative to explore the space between the ideals of romantic loving and the compromises and sacrifices lovers make in order to try to achieve
those ideals. Moreover, the issues that the existential thinkers deal with — choice, responsibility, anxiety, authenticity, freedom, and power — are timeless.
In Praise of Love
by Alain Badiou – Paperback ~$13
The renowned French philosopher’s “ode to love’s power to unite in the face of eternity, and its optimism in the face of pain” (Publishers Weekly).
In a world rife with consumerism, where online dating promises risk-free romance and love is all too often seen as a mere variant of desire and hedonism, Alain Badiou believes that love is under threat. Taking to heart Rimbaud’s famous line “love needs reinventing,” In Praise of Love is the celebrated French intellectual’s passionate treatise in defense of love.
For Badiou, love is an existential project, a constantly unfolding quest for truth. This quest begins with the chance encounter, an event that forever changes two individuals, challenging them “to see the world from the point of view of two rather than one.” This, Badiou believes, is love’s most essential transforming power.
Moving, zealous, and wise, Badiou’s “paean to the anticapitalist, antiessentialist, unifying power of love” urges us not to fear it but to see it as a magnificent undertaking that compels us to explore others and to move away from an obsession with ourselves (Publishers Weekly).
“Finally, the cure for the pornographic, utilitarian exchange of favors to which love has been reduced in America. Alain Badiou is our philosopher of love.” ―Simon Critchley, author of The Faith of the Faithless
The Philosophy of (Erotic) Love
by Robert C. Solomon & Kathleen M. Higgins – Paperback ~$20
What does philosophy know of love? From Plato on, philosophers have struggled to pin love to the dissecting table and view it in the cold light of logic. Yet, as Arthur Danto writes in the foreword to this volume, “how incorrigibly stiff philosophy is when it undertakes to lay its icy fingers on the frilled and beating wings of the butterfly of love.”
Love, elusive and philosophically intractable as it is, has long fascinated philosophers. In this collection of classic and modern writings on the topic of erotic love, Robert Solomon and Kathleen Higgins have chosen excerpts from the great philosophical texts and combined them with the most exciting new work of philosophers writing today.
Dialogue on the Infinity of Love
by Tullia d’Aragona – Paperback ~$23
Celebrated as a courtesan and poet, and as a woman of great intelligence and wit, Tullia d’Aragona (1510–56) entered the debate about the morality of love that engaged the best and most famous male intellects of sixteenth-century Italy. First published in Venice in 1547, but never before published in English, Dialogue on the Infinity of Love casts a woman rather than a man as the main disputant on the ethics of love.
Sexually liberated and financially independent, Tullia d’Aragona dared to argue that the only moral form of love between woman and man is one that recognizes both the sensual and the spiritual needs of humankind. Declaring sexual drives to be fundamentally irrepressible and blameless, she challenged the Platonic and religious orthodoxy of her time, which condemned all forms of sensual experience, denied the rationality of women, and relegated femininity to the realm of physicality and sin. Human beings, she argued, consist of body and soul, sense and intellect, and honorable love must be based on this real nature.
By exposing the intrinsic misogyny of prevailing theories of love, Aragona vindicates all women, proposing a morality of love that restores them to intellectual and sexual parity with men. Through Aragona’s sharp reasoning, her sense of irony and humor, and her renowned linguistic skill, a rare picture unfolds of an intelligent and thoughtful woman fighting sixteenth-century stereotypes of women and sexuality.
All About Love
by bell hooks – Paperback ~$9
“The word ‘love’ is most often defined as a noun, yet . . . we would all love better if we used it as a verb,” writes bell hooks as she comes out fighting and on fire in All About Love. Here, at her most provocative and intensely personal, bell hooks (renowned scholar, cultural critic, and feminist) skewers our view of love as romance. In its place she offers a proactive new ethic for a people and a society bereft with lovelessness.
As bell hooks uses her incisive mind and razor-sharp pen to explore the question “What is love?” her answers strike at both the mind and heart. In thirteen concise chapters, hooks examines her own search for emotional connection and society’s failure to provide a model for learning to love. Razing the cultural paradigm that the ideal love is infused with sex and desire, she provides a new path to love that is sacred, redemptive, and healing for individuals and for a nation. The Utne Reader declared bell hooks one of the “100 Visionaries Who Can Change Your Life.” All About Love is a powerful affirmation of just how profoundly she can.
Love: A Very Short Introduction
by Ronald de Souza – Paperback ~$10
Although there are many kinds of love, erotic love has been celebrated in art and poetry as life’s most rewarding and exalting experience, worth living and dying for and bringing out the best in ourselves. And yet it has excused, and even been thought to justify, the most reprehensible crimes. Why should this be? This Very Short Introduction explores this and other puzzling questions. Do we love someone for their virtue, their beauty, or their moral or other qualities? Are love’s characteristic desires altruistic or selfish? Are there duties of love? What do the sciences – neuroscience, evolutionary and social psychology, and anthropology – tell us about love?
Many of the answers we give to such questions are determined not so much by the facts of human nature as by the ideology of love. Ronald de Sousa considers some of the many paradoxes raised by love, looking at the different kinds of love – affections, affiliation, philia, storage, agape, but focuses on eros, or romantic love. He considers whether our conventional beliefs about love and sex are deeply irrational and argues that alternative conceptions of love and sex, although hard to formulate and live by, may be worth striving for.
On Romantic Love
Simple Truths about a Complex Emotion
by Berit Brogaard – Kindle ~$10
Romantic love presents some of life’s most challenging questions. Can we choose who to love? Is romantic love rational? Can we love more than one person at a time? And can we make ourselves fall out of love?
Berit Brogaard here attempts to get to the bottom of love’s many contradictions. This short book, informed by both historical and cutting edge philosophy, psychology, and neuroscience, combines a new theory of romantic love with entertaining anecdotes from real life and accessible explanations of the neuroscience underlying our wildest passions.
Against the grain, Brogaard argues that love is an emotion; that it can be, at turns, both rational and irrational; and that it can be manifested in degrees. We can love one person more than another and we can love a person a little or a lot or not at all. And love isn’t even always something we consciously feel. However, love — like other emotions, both conscious and not — is subject to rational control, and falling in or out of it can be a deliberate choice.
This engaging and innovative look at a universal topic, featuring original line drawings by illustrator Gareth Southwell, illuminates the processes behind heartbreak, obsession, jealousy, attachment, and more.