William Adolphe Bouguereau, The Whisperings of Love

Beyond Eros: the Philosophy and Politics of Love

Instructor: Samantha Hill
The Barnard Center for Research on Women
3009 Broadway
New York, NY 10027

Love is a perennial philosophical problem. From Plato’s Symposium to Simone de Beauvoir’s The Second Sex, philosophers and political thinkers have recurrently asked: what is love? From where does it come, what does it do, and what does it demand? For Hannah Arendt, romantic love was apolitical because it turned us away from the world. In Minima Moralia, Theodor Adorno argues that love is the one thing in a consumer society that we consider fated and not a matter of choice. Jean-Jacques Rousseau drew a distinction between amor de soi (a kind of egotism) and amour propre (a kind of self-esteem) in order to think about inequality in civil society. Erich Fromm saw love as an art form, while Herbert Marcuse thought polymorphously perverse love was a means to resistance under capitalism. How can we think about love philosophically, and what, if anything, is its real or potential political significance?

In this course, we will examine the personal, social, and political dimensions of love. Looking at the writings and letters of Plato, Augustine, Soren Kierkegaard, Friedrich Nietzsche, Rosa Luxemburg, Theodor Adorno, Herbert Marcuse, Simone de Beauvoir, Jean Paul Sartre, Paul Celan, Ingeborg Bachmann, James Baldwin, and Hannah Arendt among others, we will ask: What are the different forms of love? What does love have to do with political life? Can love inform political solidarity? What are the differences between individual and collective love? Can love be utilized as a mode of resistance within capitalist society? Does love belong in the public realm? How has our understanding of love changed in the era of digital media?

Course Schedule

Thursday, 6:30-9:30pm
January 30 — February 20, 2020
4 weeks


Registration Closed

Please email us to be placed on the waiting list.

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