Globalising Love - On the Nature and Scope of Love as a Form of Recognition

Res Publica 18 (1):11-24 (2012)
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This article begins by tracing two issues to be kept in mind in discussing the theme of love as far back as Aristotle: on the one hand the polysemy of the term philia in Aristotle, and on the other hand the fact that there is a focal or core meaning of philia that provides order to that polysemy. Secondly, it is briefly suggested that the same issues are, mutatis mutandis, central for understanding the discussion of love or Liebe by Hegel, the central classic reference in debates on recognition. Thirdly, by pointing out a certain ambiguity in Harry Frankfurt’s recent work on love, the article focuses more closely on the thought that love in the simple sense which Aristotle had pinpointed as the focal meaning of philia, which is arguably at the core of Hegel’s discussion of Liebe, and which still forms at least one of the core senses of the term, is a ‘personifying’ attitude of recognition. Finally, drawing on the above points the article addresses the question whether love as a form of recognition is restricted to intimate relations such as those between family-members, ‘lovers’, close friends and so on, or whether it has applications in interhuman relations more broadly. The answer to this question, it is suggested, is essential for the viability of ethically substantial notions of solidarity beyond circles of close acquaintances, whether within the civil society, across nations, or towards future generations.
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