As I hope to show, a philosophical study of love is highly relevant today, since the sciences have not adequately answered the perennial question: What is love?; Since the time of Socrates, the idea of love and the conception of the human heart have been devalued by thinkers who, by definition, are known as "lovers of wisdom." Considered pejoratively as "the passions," the subject of emotion was deemed inferior to thought centered upon the human faculty of reason. Many studies in the sciences, from biology to psychology, claim to have pointed us to the source of the human experience of love--but do they help us to understand love properly? In order to provide a full consideration of love in my philosophical research, I will focus my analysis on love under the philosophical lens of phenomenology. Known as the study of firsthand human experience, phenomenology became the influential school of thought for many German philosophers in the early twentieth century. My research will closely examine the writings of Max Scheler, Dietrich von Hildebrand, and Jean-Luc Marion within the context of this tradition. Moving from a justification of love in philosophy to the topic of self-love, I hope to define effectively what it means to love another. I shall also attempt to disambiguate the common assumptions regarding the nature of love. Is there a fundamental difference between the phenomenon of "falling in love" and of love itself? I question whether love, in its essence, is defined by the element of choice--of a willful emotional giving of oneself to another--and whether it can be distinguished from a passive feeling and an active loving will. I aim to bring the human affective sphere into the full light of philosophical inquiry, considering whether love is a moral act of the will that involves a total participation of the self--in mind, body, and spirit. Love is arguably the most powerful of the human emotions, one that elevates the human sphere of emotions and the ethical existence beyond simple desire.


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Thesis Completion





Strawser, Michael


Bachelor of Arts (B.A.)


College of Arts and Humanities

Degree Program



Arts and Humanities -- Dissertations, Academic;Dissertations, Academic -- Arts and Humanities







Access Status

Open Access

Length of Campus-only Access

5 years

Document Type

Honors in the Major Thesis

Included in

Philosophy Commons