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Love's Enlightenment
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Book description

A number of prominent moral philosophers and political theorists have recently called for a recovery of love. But what do we mean when we speak of love today? Love's Enlightenment examines four key conceptions of other-directedness that transformed the meaning of love and helped to shape the way we understand love today: Hume's theory of humanity, Rousseau's theory of pity, Smith's theory of sympathy, and Kant's theory of love. It argues that these four Enlightenment theories are united by a shared effort to develop a moral psychology that can provide both justificatory and motivational grounds for concern for others in the absence of recourse to theological or transcendental categories. In this sense, each theory represents an effort to redefine the love of others that used to be known as caritas or agape - a redefinition that came with benefits and costs that have yet to be fully appreciated.


'Hanley’s in-depth analysis of ancient and early modern conceptions of love adds significantly to the literature on the ethical and political dimensions of love and scholarship regarding the role that other-directed capacities such as empathy, sympathy, and charity could play in tempering the egocentricism that characterizes political, economic, and social relations.'

Source: Choice

'Ryan Patrick Hanley's book offers a carefully researched, interesting, and original survey of how four Enlightenment philosophers transformed the traditional Christian ideal of what is variously called agape, caritas, or neighborly love.'

Deborah Boyle Source: Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews

'This is a well argued, analytically incisive, informative and important book.'

Rebecca Kingston Source: The Review of Politics

'Love’s Enlightenment remains a searching and rewarding study of how returning to some of the eighteenth-century’s finest philosophers can enrichen our theorizing of other-directed sentiments today.'

Robin Douglass Source: Journal of the History of Philosophy

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