Meaning in Life: The Pursuit of Love

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In his widely acclaimed trilogy The Nature of Love,Irving Singer traced the development of the concept of love in history and literature from the Greeks to the twentieth century. In this second volume of his Meaning in Life trilogy, Singer returns to the subject of his earlier work, exploring a different approach. Without denying his previous emphasis on the role of imagination and creativity, in this book Singer investigates the ability of them both to make one's life meaningful. A "systematic mapping" of the various facets of love (including sexual love, love in society, and religious love), The Pursuit of Love is an extended essay that offers Singer's own philosophical and psychological theory of love.

Rich in insight into literature, the history of ideas, and the complexities of our being,The Pursuit of Love is a thought-provoking inquiry into fundamental aspects of all human relationships.

Describes sexual & religious love/love of parents, friends & peers/love of self & love of God/wanting to love & be loved.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"A book that deserves to be as widely read as Erich Fromm's The Art of Loving."—Kathryn Hughes, Literary Review, London
Literary Review, London - Kathryn Hughes
A book that deserves to be as widely read as Erich Fromm's The Art of Loving.
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
``Love is freedom in the midst of conditionality,'' declares humanistic philosopher Singer in a wise, lucid, profound meditation on the essential role of love in our lives. Disputing both Freud and Sartre, who believed that all love is at bottom self-love, the MIT professor regards love as the principal means by which we seek affective relations to persons, things or ideals that have value and importance to us. Choosing illustrative examples from literature, opera, film and religion, Singer ( The Nature of Love ) plumbs the diverse manifestations of universal emotion--sexual love, love of self, parental and filial love, friendship, love of pets, of nature, of humanity and God. Although Singer eschews self-help advice, readers may derive practical guidance from his analysis of interdependent love relationships whereby each partner bestows meaning and value on the other without sacrificing autonomy. (May)
Library Journal
This book builds on Singer's three-volume The Nature of Love (LJ 5/1/66, LJ 11/15/ 84, LJ 11/15/87) and his Meaning in Life (Free Pr., 1991). In the latter, he held that meaning lies in the gratification and fulfillment we find in pursuing and attaining freely chosen goals. In this volume, he first distinguishes persons, things, and ideals and then, in terms of these concepts, discusses sexual love, parental and filial love, friendship, and love of one's nation, of humankind, of the cosmos, and of God. He analyzes different aspects of love, such as wanting to love vis--vis wanting to be loved; the libidinal, erotic, and romantic; love as merging with another person; and love as respecting another person's uniqueness and autonomy. Singer draws on a variety of disciplines to illustrate the concrete content of his carefully stated analyses. Highly recommended for large libraries and scholars in general.-Robert Hoffman, York Coll., CUNY
A sequel to the author's trilogy, The Nature of Love (U. of Chicago Press)--offering a more personal, extended essay on the different kinds of love and the different kinds of needs for love. Singer is professor of philosophy at MIT. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780262513579
  • Publisher: MIT Press
  • Publication date: 12/30/2009
  • Series: The Irving Singer Library
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 204
  • Sales rank: 1,167,659
  • Product dimensions: 5.90 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 0.60 (d)

Meet the Author

Irving Singer was Professor of Philosophy at MIT. He was the author of the trilogies The Nature of Love and Meaning in Life, P hilosophy of Love: A Partial Summing-Up, Mozart and Beethoven: The Concept of Love in Their Operas, all published by the MIT Press, and many other books.

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Table of Contents

Introduction: Love and Meaning 1
1 Two Myths about Love 16
2 Persons, Things, Ideals 31
3 Sexual Love 44
4 Love in Society 73
5 Religious Love 108
6 Civilization and Autonomy 125
7 Love, and Do As You Will 144
Notes 177
Index 179
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