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Philosophy of Love: A Partial Summing-Up (Irving Singer Library) [Hardcover]

Irving Singer
2.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
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Book Description

6 Mar 2009 Irving Singer Library
In 1984, Irving Singer published the first volume of what would become a classic and much acclaimed trilogy on love. Trained as an analytical philosopher, Singer first approached his subject with the tools of current philosophical methodology. Dissatisfied by the initial results (finding the chapters he had written "just dreary and unproductive of anything"), he turned to the history of ideas in philosophy and the arts for inspiration. He discovered an immensity of speculation and artistic practice that reached wholly beyond the parameters he had been trained to consider truly philosophical. In his three-volume work The Nature of Love, Singer tried to make sense of this historical progression within a framework that reflected his precise distinction-making and analytical background. In this new book, he maps the trajectory of his thinking on love. It is a "partial" summing-up of a lifework: partial because it expresses the author's still unfolding views, because it is a recapitulation of many published pages, because love--like any subject of that magnitude--resists a neatly comprehensive, all-inclusive formulation. Adopting an informal, even conversational, tone, Singer discusses, among other topics, the history of romantic love, the Platonic ideal, courtly and nineteenth-century Romantic love; the nature of passion; the concept of merging (and his critique of it); ideas about love in Freud, Schopenhauer, Nietzsche, Dewey, Santayana, Sartre, and other writers; and love in relation to democracy, existentialism, creativity, and the possible future of scientific investigation. Singer's writing on love embodies what he has learned as a contemporary philosopher, studying other authors in the field and "trying to get a little further." This book continues his trailblazing explorations.

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 144 pages
  • Publisher: MIT Press (6 Mar 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0262195747
  • ISBN-13: 978-0262195744
  • Product Dimensions: 20.6 x 16.6 x 1.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 2.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,068,821 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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" Philosophy of Love is marvelous... a needed defense of humanism when the world seems to be growing more pragmatic and less reflective. In addition to introducing some important themes in the philosophy of love, the book should remind humanistic philosophers why they do what they do, and it should whet the appetites of a broader audience for further reading." Notre Dame Philosophy Reviews "Nearly everyone can learn something from this book." Library Journal

About the Author

Irving Singer is Professor of Philosophy at MIT. He is the author of the trilogies The Nature of Love and Meaning in Life, P hilosophy of Love: A Partial Summing-Up, Mozart and Beethoven: The Concept of Love in Their Operas, all published by the MIT Press, and many other books.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
0 of 3 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Poorly Argued 24 Feb 2010
By sanyata
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
i had to read up on this as i work with love and i have so say that the "conversational" tone advertised on the back of this book dissapoints. no infrequently i find myself in disagreement with singer and as he does not take the trouble to really argue for his views that leaves this book as kind of a hit and miss resource. in my case it was mostly miss.

ps. in mbti terms, singer is INFJ
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 3.4 out of 5 stars  5 reviews
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Go back to the original trilogy 16 Oct 2009
By N. Wong - Published on
1.5 stars

As the title suggests, this book is a summing up of three other bigger works of the author on the philosophy of love. Yet, as a supplementary text, I don't see any new insights and amusing thoughts. I feel like I am reading the York notes of the trilogy. Why bother publishing this one? The references in the books are never cited. Readers therefore may feel lost if they are interested in going back to the original texts. Moreover, the structure of the book is another problem. Most of the time, Singer just rumbles on the subject matter without doing thorough explanation.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Singer's New Book a Disappointments 23 Dec 2009
By Jim - Published on
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I've read all of Irving Singer's books and was excited when I ordered this one from Amazon. As usual the book arrived within a few days, in excellent condition. But beyond the service, the book has nothing to recommend it. The slender volume offers inviting chapters that purport to be distillations of the ideas in Singer's magisterial 3 volume work on Love, which is well worth owning. The present book, however, never rises above a shallow summation of cliches written at a grade-school level. I was greatly disappointed!
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Thoughtful and honest 5 Dec 2012
By Eliot Davila - Published on
Philosophy of Love is "a partial summing-up" of Irving Singer's lifework on the history and philosophy of love. Written in memoir-like style, with frequent yet pleasurable discursions by Singer on his academic career and life experiences, this slim volume aims to bring the insights from the author's two monumental trilogies, The Nature of Love and Meaning in Life, to a general readership. The book is loosely structured around a number of themes generally regarded as relevant to an understanding of love, including the idea of romantic love as a recent invention in human history, transcendence and merging, the roots and successors of courtly love, the identification of love with passion, and the role of creativity in love.

According to Singer, our concept of love has developed primarily under the aegis of two imaginative giants: Plato and Shakespeare. No doubt influenced by Nietzsche's quip that "Christianity is Platonism for the people", the MIT Professor of Philosophy argues that out of Plato "came not only Christianity but also the reaction against Christianity" (13). No surprises there. Yet perhaps more original is the claim that Shakespeare is a thinker whose "mentality issues out of courtly love and against courtly love" and thus "anticipates, but does not fully announce, what will later become Romantic attitudes toward medieval philosophy of love" (3). Although Singer provides a creative reading of Much Ado About Nothing to support this claim, he could just as easily have gone to the bard's collection of sonnets.

Of course, Singer does not fail to mention a number of other important figures who helped shape the Western conception of love: Luther, Hume, Nietzsche, Freud, Schopenhauer, Dewey, Santayana, Sartre, Ortega y Gasset, and James, along with several others from outside of the literary tradition, including Mozart, Beethoven, and Wagner (where is Liszt?). For the most part, Singer moves among these giants with ease, but he does stumble in a few sections, particularly when he dreadfully misreads Nietzsche's amor fati through the lens of epistemology.

In the end, however, the most infectious thinker in the book is Singer himself, whose intellectual modesty should be held up as an example for all nascent scholars: "I do not consider philosophy to be a subject that can have a culminating outcome or comprehensive solution to the varied questions it poses" (xiv). Singer's book is a "partial" summing-up of love because Singer is well aware that the task can never be completed--as Emerson wrote, there is always another circle that will be drawn around our own. The strength of Singer lies in the fact that for more than five decades he has been pushing forward with his undertaking to understand love without falling prey to the belief that love can be understood. What greater proof can there be that Singer's lifelong project is truly a labor of love?
5.0 out of 5 stars This is a great book. It has great ideas and a fantastic authentic author's voice. 21 Nov 2013
By David Guedalia - Published on
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This is a great book. It has great ideas and a fantastic authentic author's voice.

Part of me wants to hear more directly the authors thoughts, but I guess that the method of discovery through other peoples work is truly the authors thought.
1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Inspiring 27 Aug 2009
By Amazon Customer - Published on
Moves pluralistically from analyses of various forms of love and their distinctions to the meaning of life and creativity.
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