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Eros, Agape, and Philia: Readings in the Philosophy of Love

Eros, Agape, and Philia: Readings in the Philosophy of Love
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Notes , Bibliography
$24.95 (18.71)

The philosophy of love
For centuries, popular writers and respected scholars have written about and analyzed the phenomenon of love without exhausting its potential for contemporary debate. By representing the three major traditions in the philosophy of love–Platonic eros, Christian agape, and Aristotelian philia–editor Alan Soble has not only examined the intellectual problem of what “love” is, but has designed a dialogue among the three traditions in genuine philosophical style.

“Eros is acquisitive, egocentric or even selfish; agape is a giving love. Eros is an unconstant, unfaithful love, while agape is unwavering and continues to give despite ingratitude. Eros is a love that responds to the merit or value of its object; while agape creates value in its object as a result of loving it... Finally, eros is an ascending love, the human’s route to God; agape is a descending love, God’s route to humans... Philia is caught between eros and agape.”–From the Introduction to Eros, Agape and Philia


  • What is the state of love today as seen through the eyes of Plato, Aristotle, and Paul?
  • How do relations between the sexes illustrate the difficulties of love?
  • What are the nature and effects of exclusivity, reciprocity, and constancy?
  • What are the conceptual and psychological ties between sex and love?
  • Does it make any sense to think of love in moral terms?


An Introduction to the Philosophy of Love Alan Soble


Section I: Where We Are

Introduction by Alan Soble

“On Falling in Love” by Geoffrey Gorer

“Women, Men, and Intimacy” by Lillian B. Rubin

“Love in a Sexist Society” by Shulamith Firestone


Section II: Classical Sources

Introduction by Alan Soble

“Socrates Speaks at a Banquet” by Plato

“Perfect Friendship” by Aristotle

“Sexuality and Love” by St. Paul


Section III: Exploring the Classics

Introduction by Alan Soble

“Agape and Eros” by Anders Nygren

“The Individual as an Object of Love in Plato” by Gregory Vlastos

“The Nature of Love” by John A. Brentlinger

“Platonic Love” by L.A. Kosman

“Friends as Ends in Themselves” by Neera Kapur Badhwar


Section IV: Contemporary Analysis

Introduction by Alan Soble

“A Conceptual Investigation of Love” by W. Newton-Smith

“The Phenomena of Love and Hate” by D.W. Hamlyn

“Marital Faithfulness” by Susan Mendus

“The Commandability of Pathological Love” by Robert W. Burch

“Personal Love” by Robert R. Ehman

“Sex, Love, and Justice: A Problem in Moral Education” by Joseph Diorio


Appendix: Discussion Material

“For Anne Gregory” by W.B. Yeats

“What is the Self?” by Blaise Pascal

“Two Love Sonnets” by William Shakespeare

“Of Friendship” by Michel de Montaigne

“Letter to Chanut” by Rene Descartes

“A Love Sonnet” by John Berryman

ALAN SOBLE is Associate Professor of Philosophy at the University of New Orleans and is both the founder and director of the Society for the Philosophy of Sex and Love. His other books include Pornography: Marxism, Feminism and the Future of Sexuality, The Philosophy of Sex: Contemporary Readings and The Philosophy of Sex and Love.

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