Love: A History

Love: A History

by Simon May
     
 

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ISBN-10: 0300118309

ISBN-13: 9780300118308

Pub. Date: 06/30/2011

Publisher: Yale University Press

Love—unconditional, selfless, unchanging, sincere, and totally accepting—is worshipped today as the West's only universal religion. To challenge it is one of our few remaining taboos. In this pathbreaking and superbly written book, philosopher Simon May does just that, dissecting our resilient ruling ideas of love and showing how they are the product of

Overview

Love—unconditional, selfless, unchanging, sincere, and totally accepting—is worshipped today as the West's only universal religion. To challenge it is one of our few remaining taboos. In this pathbreaking and superbly written book, philosopher Simon May does just that, dissecting our resilient ruling ideas of love and showing how they are the product of a long and powerful cultural heritage.

Tracing over 2,500 years of human thought and history, May shows how our ideal of love developed from its Hebraic and Greek origins alongside Christianity until, during the last two centuries, "God is love" became "love is God"—so hubristic, so escapist, so untruthful to the real nature of love, that it has booby-trapped relationships everywhere with deluded expectations. Brilliantly, May explores the very different philosophers and writers, both skeptics and believers, who dared to think differently: from Aristotle's perfect friendship and Ovid's celebration of sex and "the chase," to Rousseau's personal authenticity, Nietzsche's affirmation, Freud's concepts of loss and mourning, and boredom in Proust. Against our belief that love is an all-powerful solution to finding meaning, security, and happiness in life, May reveals with great clarity what love actually is: the intense desire for someone whom we believe can ground and affirm our very existence. The feeling that "makes the world go round" turns out to be a harbinger of home--and in that sense, of the sacred.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780300118308
Publisher:
Yale University Press
Publication date:
06/30/2011
Pages:
294
Product dimensions:
6.40(w) x 9.30(h) x 1.30(d)

Related Subjects

Table of Contents

Acknowledgements ix

Preface x

1 Love plays God 1

2 The foundation of Western love: Hebrew Scripture 14

3 From physical desire to paradise: Plato 38

4 Love as perfect friendship: Aristotle 56

5 Love as sexual desire: Lucretius and Ovid 69

6 Love as the supreme virtue: Christianity 81

7 Why Christian love isn't unconditional 95

8 Women as ideals: love and the troubadours 119

9 How human nature became loveable: from the high Middle Ages to the Renaissance 129

10 Love as joyful understanding of the whole: Spinoza 143

11 Love as Enlightened Romanticism: Rousseau 152

12 Love as religion: Schlegel and Novalis 165

13 Love as the urge to procreate: Schopenhauer 176

14 Love as affirmation of life: Nietzsche 188

15 Love as a history of loss: Freud 199

16 Love as terror and tedium: Proust 215

17 Love reconsidered 235

Notes 257

Bibliography 279

Index 285

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