What is love's real aim? Why is it so ruthlessly selective in its choice of loved ones? Why do we love at all?In addressing these questions, Simon May develops a radically new understanding of love as the emotion we feel towards whomever or whatever we experience as grounding our life--as offering us a possibility of home in a world that we supremely value. He sees love as motivated by a promise of "ontological rootedness," rather than, as two thousand years of tradition variously asserts, by beauty or goodness, by a search for wholeness, by virtue, by sexual or reproductive desire, by compassion or altruism or empathy, or, in one of today's dominant views, by no qualities at all of the loved one.After arguing that such founding Western myths as the Odyssey and Abraham's call by God to Canaan in the Bible powerfully exemplify his new conception of love, May goes on to re-examine the relation of love to beauty, sex, and goodness in the light of this conception, offering among other things a novel theory of beauty--and suggesting, against Plato, that we can love others for their ugliness (while also seeing them as beautiful).Finally, he proposes that, in the Western world, romantic love is gradually giving way to parental love as the most valued form of love: namely, the love without which one's life is not deemed complete or truly flourishing. May explains why childhood has become sacred and excellence in parenting a paramount ideal--as well as a litmus test of society's moral health. In doing so, he argues that the child is the first genuinely "modern" supreme object of love: the first to fully reflect what Nietzsche called "the death of God."
Oxford University Press; March 2019
- ISBN: 9780190884840
- Read online, or download in secure PDF or secure ePub format
- Title: Love
- Author: Simon May
Imprint: Oxford University Press
About The Author
Simon May is visiting professor of philosophy at King's College London. His books include Love: A History (Yale University Press, 2011), Nietzsche's Ethics and his War on "Morality" (Oxford University Press, 1999), a collection of his own aphorisms entitled Thinking Aloud (Alma Books, 2009), which was a Financial Times Book of the Year, and two edited volumes on Nietzsche's philosophy (OUP, 2009 and CUP, 2011). He has contributed op-eds to newspapers such as the Financial Times and the Washington Post, and has appeared on radio and TV for the BBC, among other broadcasters. His work has been translated into ten languages.