Love : Art of Living
Does love conquer all? Is it a many splendored thing? Or is it, as Schopenhauer thought, just nature’s way of duping us into producing the next generation? What’s good about being in the grip of a delusion that requires a ridiculously inflated estimation of the subject of our affections? How can the grasping, selfish, egocentric behaviour that intimate love brings be a subject worthy of poets?
In this book, the philosopher Tony Milligan brings his keen analytical skills to bear on our need to love and be loved. Along the way, filial, parental and friendship love are discussed, but the main focus of his attention is the sexualised, intimate love that can exist between partners, and which has been idolized for millennia. Milligan explores how the nature of love and our experience of it is inextricably bound up with our own notions of self and self-doubt. Why love goes so deep, he shows, is because it connects at a fundamental level to our shared human need to live a life that is well-motivated and that acknowledges our own worth. He considers the place of intimacy, togetherness, and sexual desire in love and uses the notions of loss, irreplaceability and shared history to illustrate the nature of love. The book ends with an exploration of the limits of love by posing the simple question, what can we love?
Anyone who has lived and loved will find Milligan’s exploration illuminating and insightful. While accepting that some parts of love are just plain unfathomable, even to a philosopher, Milligan is wholeheartedly on the side of love and the book is a vindication of it and its place in our lives.
Tony Milligan is Honorary Research Fellow in Philosophy at the University of Aberdeen.
1. Doubts about love
2. The depth of love
3. A sense of worth
4. Togetherness and loss
6. What can we love?