A Passion for Life: Love and Meaning

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Camilla Kronqvist

Abstract

Does one’s love for a particular person, when it is pure, also constitute a love of life? The significance of speaking about leading a passionate life, I submit, is found in the spontaneous, embodied character of opening up to and finding meaning in one’s life rather than in heightened fleeting feelings or experiences of meaning that help one forget life’s meaninglessness. I contrast this view with Simone Weil’s suspicion that our passionate attachment to another person is an obstacle to attending to him or her from the distance proper to love and friendship. From that perspective it appears as if the meaning with which personal love endows life is mostly illusory, including the loss of meaning characteristic of grief. I question whether Weil’s view should be seen as an unconditional, though for most unattainable, ideal of love, or if it is rather expressive of a rejection of one of the central features of love: the vulnerability that ensues from the recognition that when we love there are times where we stand in need of the other’s love to be able to embrace life as meaningful.

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Articles
Author Biography

Camilla Kronqvist, Åbo Akademi University

Camilla Kronqvist (Dr, Docent) is a researcher and teacher in philosophy at Åbo Akademi University in Finland. Besides articles on the moral questions raised by considerations of love and emotions in interpersonal relationships as well as moral relativism, she has co-edited two anthologies with Wittgensteinian perspectives on emotion, ethics and culture, Emotions and Understanding: Wittgensteinian Perspectives (2009) and Ethics and the Philosophy of Culture: Wittgensteinian Approaches (2013). She is also co-author of an anthology on the Finnish philosopher Edward Westermarck and his relevance for contemporary evolutionary theories, Evolution, Human Behaviour and Morality: The Legacy of Westermarck (2016).

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