The Freud Museum

Events Archive

13 May 2015
Postponed until futher notice

The Philosophy of Love

Six week evening course

What is love? What could it mean to ‘love someone for herself’? Is the supposed meeting of minds just a projection of our fantasies and desires? How do we reconcile love’s aspiration to oneness with the reality of human separateness? This course will examine the nature of love in general, and particularly of romantic love with its odd combination of animality and transcendence. Is romantic love natural and universal, or just a cultural concoction developed out of the cult of Courtly Love? We will look at its history over the last 2,000 years, along with ideas about the self, the nature of humanity, and what it is to be a man or a woman.

The course is led by Jane O’Grady, who co-edited Blackwell’s Dictionary of Philosophical Quotations with A. J. Ayer, and writes philosophers’ obituaries for the Guardian, and reviews and articles for various papers and journals. She has been a Visiting Lecturer at City University for the last twelve years, and is one of the seven founders of the London School of Philosophy.

1. Introduction: What is love – how far is it a matter of feeling, disposition, or behaviour? Exactly who or what do you love – the beloved’s attributes, body, essence, or his/her relation to yourself?

2. Love and the soul: Plato’s ladder to Beauty. Love-sickness and lust in Stoicism and medieval Christianity. Woman as helpmeet or temptress.

3. Love transfigured: Courtly Love, chivalry and gardens. Loving body and soul: 'None our parts so poor but was a race of heaven' (the Renaissance, Descartes, Shakespeare, Montaigne and Donne.)

4. Love of (and by) a sort of animal. Hume and Rousseau on ‘natural man’, Schopenhauer on the secret agenda of romantic love, Darwin on ape-descended emotions.

5. Love and It. Freud's id, J. B. Watson's behaviourism, and Futurist energy -- the authenticity of 'itness'. 1930s primitivism and free love exempt from jealousy – the impossible Utopias of Margaret Mead, Wilhelm Reich, and the anthropologists.

6. Love’s solipsism (20th and 21st century). Sartre: the battle with the Other and the impossible project of erotic love. The reductionisms of evolutionary biology and neuroscience: love as just a battle of genes or as pleasure-producing brain-chemicals. Possibilities of reaching beyond the ‘I’ to ‘you’.

This website uses cookies to ensure we give you the best experience on our website. If you continue, we'll assume that you are happy to receive all cookies on this website. Find out more about our cookie policy.