Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Velleman on Love

The love of non-"idolizing romantics" seems initially hard to explain, insofar as the non-romantic values especially someone that he recognizes to be (objectively) no more special than anyone else. Velleman's solution is that love isn't really about valuing the particular qualities of a person at all:
I argue that to love someone for the way he walks or the way he talks is not to value him on the basis of his gait or his elocution; it's rather to value his personhood as perceived through them. The qualities that elicit our love are the ones that make someone real to us as a person — the qualities that speak to us of a mind and heart within — and the value that is registered in our love is therefore the value of personhood. Wanting to be loved is like wanting to be found beautiful: it's a desire that others be struck by our particularities, but in a way that awakens them to a value in us that is universal.

-- David Velleman, introduction to Self to Self : Selected Essays.


  1. heh david is a bit too romantic I think.
    I think there are much colder ways to look at it.

  2. I like Velleman's account. If you describe love coldly, you're not describing love. A lot of what people call 'love' is quite selfish, I would agree, but even though those kind of attachments can be passionate and meaningful, they're not love - at least not the kind of love Velleman talks about, which is an emotion to aspire to.


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