The goal of this presentation is to introduce the audience to the relationship between ethics and philosophy of love through the application of a definition of romantic love in the work of the rationalist philosopher Baruch Spinoza. This is based on a paper I have written for a course at Concordia University which is available here: https://www.academia.edu/30708635/The_Place_of_Romantic_Love_as_Robust_Concern_Theory_in_Spinozas_View_on_The_Virtuous_Life.
The first part of the presentation would be aimed at introducing the audience to the importance of having ethical theories and pursuing ethical questioning when defining Love and especially romantic love. I would introduce certain ethical questions such as « why should you love this person rather than that other person? », « is polyamory ethical? », and so on. The importance of ethics in the field of romantic love is of great extent insofar as it helps philosophers define what love is (in all its forms), and the goal of the presentation is to demonstrate this point.
The second part of the presentation looks at a case in which a definition of romantic love is applied to an ethical theory. I would present a paper I have written about the interpretation of romantic love in Spinoza’s view of the virtuous life in his book The Ethics. First, I would briefly but clearly introduce the audience to Spinoza’s idea of the virtuous life, what the terms « guidance of reason » and « conatus of being » mean, and highlight the passages that will be important for understanding how romantic love can be interpreted in Spinoza’s work. Then, I present a definition of romantic love from the robust concern theory (as presented in an academic article written by Gabriele Taylor) and the key features in this definition. Finally, I explain how this theory of romantic love might fit into Spinoza’s view of the virtuous life and what are the certain points that should be changed in order to make sure that this theory fits accordingly, as well as the questions that could be asked regarding Spinoza’s view on Love (since he does not provide a clear and explicit view about it).
I would conclude this presentation by reminding the audience of the importance of the relationship between ethics and philosophy of love, and that especially nowadays it is crucial to look for ethical arguments in order to provide the most accurate metaphysical definition of Love possible (and of romantic love to that extent).
Taylor, Gabriele. “Love.” Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society, Vol. 76, 1975 – 1976, pp. 147-164.
Della Rocca, Michael. Spinoza. Routledge, 2008. pp. 193-200.
Helm, Bennett, “Love”, The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Edward N. Zalta (ed.), Retrieved from https://plato.stanford.edu/archives/fall2013/entries/love/