The Problem of Love: the Relationship Between the Love of Self and the Love of Others, Self-Fulfillment and Self-Denial
Date of Award
Dissertation - Restricted
Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
This is a dissertation about love. More specifically, it addresses the relationship between self-love and love of others; or what the French theologians liked lo call "the problem of love." "The problem of love" is the perennial dilemma centered around egoism and altruism, self-interest and self-denial, self-centeredness and other-regard; it asks, what is the proper relationship between the love l bear for myself and the love that I bear for another person, or for God? In loving other people should (of can) I love them purely for their own sake, or should (or do) I love them purely for my own sake? Similarly, in loving God should (or can) I love God purely for God's own sake, or for my own sake? The problem occurs in that on the one hand true love of other people seems to requite self-sacrifice and putting their interests above one's own. Most of us reject the view that we show true love to others if we are only loving them for what we can get out of t!hem for ourselves. Indeed, perhaps true love of others and God should be so pure that in no sense am I concerned with my own needs, wants, desires, happiness, perfection, or salvation. Yet on the other hand it seems that the more we stress the sacrificial and disinterested nature of love, the less is love able to be good or fulfilling for ourselves and be capable of rational justification. For if loving others is not fulfilling for ourselves, indeed if it demands the sacrifice of our very wants, desires, and happiness on behalf of other people, we seem bard pressed to understand what could motivate us to act in such a harmful manner to ourselves...