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The Concept of Love in 17th and 18th Century Philosophy

Herman De Dijn, Gà¡bor Boros, Martin Moors (eds)

Publication Year: 2008

“Love is joy with the accompanying idea of an external cause.” Spinoza’s definition of love (Ethics Book 3, Prop. LIX) manifests a major paradigm shift achieved by seventeenth century Europe in which the emotions, formerly seen as normative “forces of nature,” were embraced by the new science of the mind. We are determined to volition by causes. This shift has often been seen as a transition from a philosophy laden with implicit values and assumptions to a more scientific and value-free way of understanding human action. But is this rational approach really value-free? Today we incline to believe that values are inescapable, and that the descriptive-mechanical method implies its own set of values. Yet the assertion by Spinoza, Malebranche, Leibniz, and Enlightenment thinkers that love guides us to wisdom—and even that the love of a God who creates and maintains order and harmony in the world forms the core of ethical behaviour—still resonates powerfully with us. It is, evidently, an idea we are unwilling to relinquish. This collection of insightful essays emerged from two “ContactFora” organized within the framework of the research project Actuality of the Enlightenment: The Moral Science of Emotions, conducted under the auspices of Koninklijke Vlaamse Academie van Belgie voor Wetenschappen en Kunsten. It offers a range of important and fascinating perspectives on how the triumph of “reason” affected not only our scientific-philosophical understanding of the emotions and especially of love, but our everyday understanding as well.

Published by: Leuven University Press

Title page, Copyright

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pp. 1-2

Table of Contents

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pp. 3-4

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pp. 5-22

Most papers collected in this volume owe their origins, at least partly, to the two “ContactFora” organized within the framework of the research project Actuality of the Enlightenment: the Moral Science of Emotions by the members of the research group supported generously by Koninklijke Vlaamse Academie van Belgie voor Wetenschappen en Kunsten. ...

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Cartesian Subjectivity and Love

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pp. 23-42

The title given to this paper might appear, at first, problematic. Everyone knows the extent to which Descartes’ century was concerned with reflections upon love. Descartes was twenty years old and about to finish his studies when Francis de Sales published his Treatise on the Love of God (1616). ...

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The Role of Amicitia in Political Life

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pp. 43-54

The ancient idea that love consists in an urge to unite oneself to another reverberates throughout the literature of the early-modern period. It is explicated, for example, by Descartes, who explains that, when one is in love, one considers oneself and the object of one’s affection as part of a whole, and cares for this union in the way that one previously cared for oneself.1 ...

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L’apparition de l’amourde soi dans l’Éthique

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pp. 55-68

Souvent présenté comme un philosophe de la joie, Spinoza devrait plus justement être défini comme un philosophe de l’amour. Toute l’Éthique, en effet, tend à conduire l’homme vers la béatitude ou liberté qui consiste, d’après le scolie de la proposition XXVI de la partie V, ...

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Spinoza über Liebe und Erkenntnis

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pp. 69-78

Dem Affekt der Liebe kommt in Spinozas Theorie der Affekte eine besondere Bedeutung zu. Er ist der einzige Affekt, der sich in den Teilen III bis V der „Ethik“ durchhält, also durch das Ganze der Darlegung zur Theorie der Affekte, und er ist der einzige Affekt, mit dem Spinoza das Merkmal vernünftigen Einsehens (intelligere) so eng verknüpft, ...

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Leibniz on Love

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pp. 79-94

We rarely think of Leibniz as a philosopher whose thinking primarily revolved around the passionate relationship we call love. Nevertheless, if we read his works on natural law or practical philosophy, we find the frequency with which he speaks about love (or, say, charity) startling. ...

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Malebranche on Natural and Free Loves

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pp. 95-112

Love would not seem, initially, to be a promising candidate for a central principle of Cartesian psychology. After all, Descartes portrayed love not as a single phenomenon, but rather as something that can be conceived either as a non-volitional feeling that derives from the body, or as a movement of the will that derives from the mind itself. ...

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The Problem of Conscience and Orderin the Amour-pur Debate

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pp. 113-124

The famous ‘Amour-pur’ debate – opposing Bossuet to his former protégé, Fénelon, and Nicolas Malebranche to his one-time follower, François Lamy in the last decade of the seventeenth century – can be seen as polarizing the interpretations of the same corpus of traditional texts. ...

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Love of God and Love of Creatures: The Masham-Astell Exchange

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pp. 125-140

In 1694, Mary Astell (1666–1731) entered into an exchange of eleven long letters with John Norris (1657–1711), the English Platonist, over a principle expounded in his Christian Blessedness: or Discourses Upon the Beatitudes (1690). The principle was one upon which they both agreed though for different reasons: ...

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The Theory and Regulation of Love in 17th Century Philosophy

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pp. 141-162

The appetite of English readers in the first half of the 17th century for sermons, devotional works, and commentaries on scripture was robust. They consumed information regarding the defects of their souls as avidly as we consume information regarding the defects of our appearances. ...

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Frances Hutcheson: From Moral Sense to Spectatorial Rights

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pp. 163-180

This essay concerns a particular aspect of Francis Hutcheson’s theory of rights – how the connection between rights and tensions in his own moral sense theory led Hutcheson to stress the importance of adventitious or acquired spectator approved rights, an idea that would be taken up in a different way by Hutcheson’s student and successor Adam Smith. ...

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Philosophy as medicina mentis? Hume and Spinoza on Emotions and Wisdom

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pp. 181-204

Spinoza and Hume each exemplify a specifically modern version of the classical idea that the practice of philosophy leads to the moderation of man’s passionate nature.2 Both integrate this conception of ‘doing philosophy’ as a search for wisdom, into a science which is in harmony with a modern ateleological worldview. ...

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The Depth of the Heart –“even if a bit tumultuous”. On Compassion and Erotic Love in Diderot’s Ethics

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pp. 205-226

In the present paper, we propose the thesis that Diderot’s pivotal ethical concept of the “bottom of the heart,” “le fond du coeur,” belongs in the field of a problematic philosophy of the soul conceived as the (relatively) free determining ground and canon of moral action. ...

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Motivational Internalism: A Kantian Perspective on Moral Motives and Reasons

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pp. 227-244

The modern debate about moral motivation concerns two alternative conceptions of motivation. On the one side, there is an internalist account of moral motivation. This account says that practical reasons are internal to our desires, interests, or dispositions. ...

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Kant on: “Love God above all, and your neighbour as yourself

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pp. 245-270

Hegel’s criticisms of Kant’s practical philosophy are based on, first, “the emptiness of the categorical imperative,”2 and, second, Kant’s doctrine of the postulates, especially the postulation of the existence of God.3 ...

E-ISBN-13: 9789461660183
Print-ISBN-13: 9789058676511

Page Count: 270
Publication Year: 2008

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Subject Headings

  • Love -- Philosophy.
  • Emotions (Philosophy).
  • Philosophy, Modern -- 17th century.
  • Philosophy, Modern -- 18th century.
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