Nico Nuyens, BA. (University of Groningen)
What is love?
A formal, semantic and historical analysis of the concept of "love"
When we talk about love, a philosophical analysis might not be the first
thing we think of. It is commonly believed that love is something very
personal, which can only be expressed in special art forms such as poetry,
literature or music. What can philosophy possibly tell us about this
subjective and complex notion? Many people, I think, have a lot of
questions concerning the nature of love: what causes us to fall in love
in a way that makes us "blind" for other important values? Why do we love
this particular person, although there might be others who are more
beautiful, more reliable, and moreover not already married? Is sexual or
erotic love completely different from the non-sexual love between friends
or is there some similarity after all? Is there something like "true love"?
And what are the limits of love anyway? Can we love other things than human
beings? Are non-humans capable of love? These are not easy questions to
answer when we don't know where to start.
Fortunately, we can use analytical methods to determine the formal
characteristics of the concept of love as well as the semantic content
of the different aspects of love. And besides that, we are not the first
ones to inquire into the mysteries of love. Several love-theorists
already constructed very insightful theories, which can be used for
reflection on possible answers to the questions posed above.
In this presentation I shall present the results of an investigation into
the formal and semantic characteristics of the concept of love. This will
then serve as an interpretational basis to compare the three most
influential theories of love, constructed by Plato (429-347 BC),
Saint Augustine of Hippo (354-430 AD) and Sigmund Freud (1856-1939)
Nico Nuyens (1976) participates in the Research Master Programme
Philosophy: Knowledge and Knowledge Development at the Rijksuniversiteit
Groningen. Starting his studies in philosophy at Groningen in 2001 he went
to Germany in 2003 to study at the Freie Universitaet zu Berlin. Then,
two years later, he finished his Bachelor in philosophy (Bachelor thesis
on Heidegger and truth), and returned to Groningen to start his Research
Master in Philosophy. During his study he worked seveal times as a
teaching assistent for first year courses on ancient philosophy, 17th
century philosophy and 19th century philosophy. The main topics of
interest are the history of philosophy ranging from Plato to Heidegger,
but he also has a lively interest in systematic topics related to language,
meaning, freedom etc. At present his research concentrates on the
Neo-kantian philosophy of Cassirer (the Philosophy of Symbolic Forms).
The expected date of graduation is September the 1st 2007.