Feb. 3, 16:40-18:10, Staraya Basmannaya ulitsa 21/4, Moscow, room 417

Ulrika Carlsson: Love’s Natural Illusions

A current movement in analytic seeks to argue that love is rational: that we (ought to) love people for good reasons, and that love is more reflective an attitude than previously thought. Such theories of love see themselves as attempts to “upgrade” the status of love from primitive instinct or fleeting, uncontrollable passion. I contest this cerebral view of love, insisting that we must distinguish between the causes of love and its phenomenology. As lovers, it often seems to us that we see the beloved as he really is, that we love him for good reasons, and that it is a matter of necessity rather than contingency that we love this particular person rather than any other. But in fact, this is partly illusory. Far from being a reflective attitude — the kind of attitude one adopts the way the philosopher adopts the conclusion of a carefully crafted argument — love seems in fact to presuppose and to yield a number of beliefs, perceptions and attitudes that, on close philosophical scrutiny, are doubtful, unfounded, or even blatantly false.

Ulrika Carlsson received her PhD from Yale University in 2013 on a dissertation about Kierkegaard, Plato and love. Since September 2016, she is Assistant Professor of Philosophy at HSE Moscow.


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