What is Love?

Philosopher's reply

Dear Patrick Humphreys.

That is a big question! and difficult to answer, because love can be many things: you could love your friend, a cat or a book. A wise philosopher, Iris Murdoch, thought that loving a friend, a cat or a book, all means doing the same think: looking. Loving someone or something means looking watching the cat’s funny walk or attending to a wonderful book. When we love, we are focusing our attention on the things around us. We look lovingly at our friends, so we can see who they are, what they are doing and what kind of crisps they like most.

When we look around with loving attention, we will be better people, said Iris. I think she is right, I am better friend now. I used to pick the kind of crisps* I like most, because I assumed my friend would like them most too. But after looking at what she would pick herself, I learned that I gave her crisps she did not like at all! Now when she comes over we eat crisps we both like 😊 To love is to focus less on ourselves and what we want, and instead, looking at the people and things around us.

Wishing you all the courage to love fearlessly,

Lotte Spreenweberg
*for me and my friend, when she comes over
P.S. thank you for your wonderful card. I loved it and love writing the response. I hope someone can read it to you.

Philosopher's profile

Lotte Spreeuwenberg

University of Antwerp, The Netherlands

In my research I investigate whether we can make sense of the argument that we should love one another, which has led me to the works of Iris Murdoch. Her views on love and her picture of humanity are incredibly appealing! Shouldn't we all look less at our own ego's and desires and instead be more open to others?

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