With the revival of interest in love, the Philosophy department at the University of Hertfordshire successfully hosted a two-day international workshop with twenty participants from ten countries. This was the first time that three different international research networks* were brought together.
Entitled Love’s Passion: Philosophical Perspectives on Love, the workshop aimed to move the focus of discussion within the philosophy of love to issues such as love’s intentionality, the link between love and desire and the connection between love, virtue and the good. Another objective was to lay down the groundwork for a larger companion event on Love and the Good, due to be held in the Czech Republic in the summer of 2015.
Organised by Tony Milligan from the University of Hertfordshire and Kamila Pacovská from the University of Pardubice, the participants of the workshop were drawn from various philosophical traditions, from analytic philosophers and Wittgensteinians through to phenomenology and continental philosophy.
Milligan, a lecturer at the University, revealed that a number of the papers discussed at the event have already been earmarked for publication in English-language publications (and, in one case, a French journal on political philosophy).
The prospect is that an edited volume and/or special edition of a journal will be produced once the larger picture of ongoing research emerges at next year’s conference in the Czech Republic. This will complement the edited, new directions, volume on Love and its Object by Christian Maurer, Tony Milligan and Kamila Pacovská which is due out with Palgrave Macmillan later this year.
Read below for the full event summary:
Day one opened with a Wittgensteinian-influenced paper by Niklas Forsberg, Uppsala University, on ‘Thinking About a Word – Love for Example’ and was followed by:
- Camilla Kronqvist, Åbo Akademi University, on ’Love’s Passion for Life’
- Elizabeth Drummond Young, University of Edinburgh, on ‘Lovers and Heroes’
- Roberto Merrill, University of Minho, Portugal, on ‘Is Love Bad for Equality’
- Julia Meszaros, Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, on ‘Love as Selfless Desire’
Julia’s paper began to bring in the work of Iris Murdoch into focus. Discussions highlighted the extent to which traditions outside of the recent analytic debates could supplement and be brought into discussion with the precision aimed at in the latter. Roberto’s paper also helped to highlight the potential for a discourse on love and political philosophy.
Day two included a postgraduate session with excellent short papers from Monica Roland, University of Oslo, tackling ‘Velleman on the Maximum Reasons for Love’ and from Robbie Kubala, Columbia University, dealing with ‘Proust on the Reasons for Love’. Roland drew out the point that a skewed understanding of one of the seminal papers on love may well have shaped the discourse. Kubala delivered an analytic presentation on the sorts of questions about love which emerge in one of the key, exemplary, literary texts which are familiarly drawn upon by philosophers of love.
Kamila Pacovská, delivered a fascinating full-length version of her paper on ‘Loving the Miserable’, with a focus on Simone Weil. Maria Silvia Vaccarezza, University of Genova, picked up on the connection between Murdoch and Weil in ‘Emotion or Virtue’, a paper which drew upon her important work as an Aquinas translator. Kate Larson, Södertörn University College, Stockholm, presented an amusing and very insightful paper on ‘Falling in and out of Love’ which drew connections between Murdoch and Plato’s concept of eros. The closing paper by Tony Milligan continued exploration of the themes opened up by Larson with a paper on ‘Abandonment and the Constancy of Love’, reworking an argument presented earlier in the summer at the Religion and Emotional Experience event at the University of Konstanz.
*The three international research networks were Analytic Philosophy of Love, Continental Philosophy of Love and scholars with a particular interest in the work of Wittgenstein, Simone Weil and Iris Murdoch.