Two Modes of LovingChristopher Cordner (University of Melbourne)
221 Burwood Highway
- Centre for Citizenship and Globalization
- the Alfred Deakin Research Institute's 'Social Theory and Social Change Research Group'
In philosophical thinking about love, there is a long tradition of distinguishing between eros, philia and agape. The distinctions are commonly closely tied to a contrast between Platonic and Christian thought. While the two modes of loving I distinguish and explore are related to the themes of this tradition, neither of the modes fits neatly into the traditional categories. The ‘Platonic’ love I shall describe seeks the good of the beloved, and in addition frames a specific way of thinking of what that involves. The mode of loving I link to ‘Christian’ love does not seek anything. If verbs are needed to catch it, this love accepts and holds. Both modes of loving have been, I argue, seminal in our (broadly) western cultural inheritance. (They may also be fundamental more widely than that, but I don’t try to show that here.) I also consider how the two modes are related, and suggest that the second is the more fundamental. I argue that its being so reflects aspects of our human embodiment that philosophy still finds alien; and that this is one reason our philosophical appreciation of this mode of loving has been tenuous.
Chris Cordner is Associate Professor in Philosophy in the School of Historical and Philosophical Studies at the University of Melbourne. His main area of research interest is moral philosophy. His monograph, Ethical Encounter, was published in 2002 by Palgrave/Macmillan. He is currently writing a book titled Simple Goodness.
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