Sept 25 Colloquia – Nick Riggle: “Beauty and Love”

Nick Riggle (New York University) will be giving his talk on Friday September 25, 2015 in BUCH A202 at 3pm.

Beauty and Love

The recent literature on love focuses largely on a kind of response, attitude, or relation we have exclusively to persons. But there is a long tradition in aesthetics according to which beauty is the object of love, where love is a kind of attitude or response we can have to a range of non-persons: flowers, places, music, poetry, and so on. If there is such a thing as “aesthetic love” then there would seem to be important implications for the general theory of love. How, if at all, is love a unified phenomenon across the ethical and aesthetic domains? In this paper, I develop a way of making sense of the view that beauty is the object of love and explore its broader implications. In developing this view, I focus first on understanding the claim that beauty warrants an emotion. Understanding what unifies beautiful properties (or “beauties”)—e.g., smoothness, simplicity, warmth, clarity—helps us characterize the representational content of this emotion. I then take up the question of whether there is any reason to think of this emotion as a species of love and argue that there is. I end by using the theory of aesthetic love to characterize its interpersonal counterpart—the thread connecting aesthetic and interpersonal love is, in a sense, the love of life.

This event is open to the public, faculty, staff and students.