Philosophy of Love: A Partial Summing-Up

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MIT Press, Jan 7, 2011 - Philosophy - 144 pages

The author of the classic philosophical treatment of love reflects on the trajectory, over decades, of his thoughts on love and other topics.

In 1984, Irving Singer published the first volume of what would become a classic and much acclaimed trilogy on love. Trained as an analytical philosopher, Singer first approached his subject with the tools of current philosophical methodology. Dissatisfied by the initial results (finding the chapters he had written “just dreary and unproductive of anything”), he turned to the history of ideas in philosophy and the arts for inspiration. He discovered an immensity of speculation and artistic practice that reached wholly beyond the parameters he had been trained to consider truly philosophical. In his three-volume work The Nature of Love, Singer tried to make sense of this historical progression within a framework that reflected his precise distinction-making and analytical background. In this new book, he maps the trajectory of his thinking on love. It is a “partial” summing-up of a lifework: partial because it expresses the author's still unfolding views, because it is a recapitulation of many published pages, because love—like any subject of that magnitude—resists a neatly comprehensive, all-inclusive formulation. Adopting an informal, even conversational, tone, Singer discusses, among other topics, the history of romantic love, the Platonic ideal, courtly and nineteenth-century Romantic love; the nature of passion; the concept of merging (and his critique of it); ideas about love in Freud, Schopenhauer, Nietzsche, Dewey, Santayana, Sartre, and other writers; and love in relation to democracy, existentialism, creativity, and the possible future of scientific investigation. Singer's writing on love embodies what he has learned as a contemporary philosopher, studying other authors in the field and “trying to get a little further.” This book continues his trailblazing explorations.


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Philosophy of love: a partial summing-up

User Review  - Not Available - Book Verdict

This is an account of a life devoted to the idea of love and the love of ideas. As a young philosopher with an empiricist outlook, Singer first tackled the tangled ideas encapsulated in the word love ... Read full review

Review: Philosophy of Love: A Partial Summing-Up

User Review  - José-antonio Orosco - Goodreads

Singer is one of the founders of the specialization in philosophy of love and friendship and produced some of the crucial collections and commentaries in the field. This is a very broad introduction ... Read full review


Is Romantic Love a Recent Idea?
Beyond Idealism
Concepts of Transcendence and Merging
Courtly Love and Its Successors
Varieties of Romantic Love
Identification of Love and Passion
Bestowal and Appraisal in Relation to Freud
Dualism and Freud on Erotic Degradation
Democracy as Related to Romanticism
The Love of Life
Harmonization of Dewey and Santayana
The Role of Creativity
Future Prospects for the Philosophy of Love

Schopenhauer and Nietzsche
Implications for Marriage

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About the author (2011)

Irving Singer was Professor of Philosophy at MIT. He was the author of the trilogies The Nature of Love and Meaning in Life, Philosophy 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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