Books for Lovers: The Philosophy of Love

Now as a special treat, some Valentine’s wishes from Philosophy and Classics Editor Rob Tempio:

What better way to spend Valentine’s Day than reading some philosophy with your sweetheart, beau, or paramour, right? Okay, maybe not, but if it’s depth you’re after in your love life and not just superficial passion or infatuation, then do we have the books for you.

First stop, the origins of romantic love.  In this classic work, Love in the Western World, Dennis de Rougemont explores the psychology of love from the legend of Tristan and Isolde to Hollywood. At the heart of his exploration is the inescapable conflict in the West between marriage and passion. Mais oui!

The French may consider themselves the world’s greatest lovers, but are they also the greatest philosophers of love? Judge for yourself in French provocateur Pascal Bruckner’s new book, The Paradox of Love.

Today may not be the best day to wonder why we love what we love, but in his book, The Reasons of Love philosopher Harry Frankfurt says that self-love is at the heart of all else that we love. Try using that to explain why you got yourself chocolates and flowers. Also, if your significant other gives you a copy of Harry Frankfurt’s best-selling book Harry Frankfurt’s best-selling book On Bullshit today, things may be on the rocks. Just saying.

Love is irrational and blind, guided by passion not reason. Not exactly says philosopher and poet Troy Jollimore in his book, Love’s Vision.  In this beautifully written book chock full of wonderful examples from poetry, literature, and music, Troy Jollimore show that love is a “vision” which combines the irrational and the rational, reason and passion, and guides us away from an excessive self-concern. And what says Valentine’s Day more than poetry, so why not read some of Jollimore’s poetry to your beloved as well: At Lake Scugogg.

Last but not least, no discussion of the philosophy of love would be complete without the Great Dane himself, Soren Kierkegaard.  Yes, the man gave up the one great love of his life to devote himself to philosophy, but nevertheless it freed him up to write the many beautiful works on love that he did, including the aptly named Works of Love.

BBut, for those unattached and looking for love… at least for Valentine’s Day, pick up a copy of The Seducer’s Diary for all the tips sure to win you the favor of someone special.  Satisfaction guaranteed…we hope.

Happy Valentine’s Day from Princeton University Press.

The Paradox of Love is now available in cloth and electronic form!