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Ellen Dissanayake, , . Art and Intimacy
2000, University of Washington Press
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Added by: Simon Fokt, Contributed by: Christy Mag Uidhir

Publisher’s Note: To Ellen Dissanayake, the arts are biologically evolved propensities of human nature: their fundamental features helped early humans adapt to their environment and reproduce themselves successfully over generations. In Art and Intimacy she argues for the joint evolutionary origin of art and intimacy, what we commonly call love.It all begins with the human trait of birthing immature and helpless infants. To ensure that mothers find their demanding babies worth caring for, humans evolved to be lovable and to attune themselves to others from the moment of birth. The ways in which mother and infant respond to each other are rhythmically patterned vocalizations and exaggerated face and body movements that Dissanayake calls rhythms and sensory modes.

Rhythms and modes also give rise to the arts. Because humans are born predisposed to respond to and use rhythmic-modal signals, societies everywhere have elaborated them further as music, mime, dance, and display, in rituals which instill and reinforce valued cultural beliefs. Just as rhythms and modes coordinate and unify the mother-infant pair, in ceremonies they coordinate and unify members of a group.

Today we humans live in environments very different from those of our ancestors. They used ceremonies (the arts) to address matters of serious concern, such as health, prosperity, and fecundity, that affected their survival. Now we tend to dismiss the arts, to see them as superfluous, only for an elite. But if we are biologically predisposed to participate in artlike behavior, then we actually need the arts. Even — or perhaps especially — in our fast-paced, sophisticated modern lives, the arts encourage us to show that we care about important things.

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Jenkins, Carrie, , . What Is Love? An Incomplete Map of the Metaphysics
2015, Journal of the American Philosophical Association 1(2): 349-364.
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Added by: Rie Iizuka, Contributed by:

Abstract: The paper begins by surveying a range of possible views on the metaphysics of romantic love, organizing them as responses to a single question. It then outlines a position, constructionist functionalism, according to which romantic love is characterized by a functional role that is at least partly constituted by social matters (social institutions, traditions, and practices), although this role may be realized by states that are not socially constructed.

Comment: This paper is a good and clear introduction to metaphysics of love. The author offers a map of the options for a metaphysician of love, and she proposes her own view called constructionist functionalism on love.

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Osborne, Catherine, , . Eros Unveiled: Plato and the God of Love
1994, Oxford University Press.
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Added by: Laura Jimenez, Contributed by:

Publisher’s note: This unique book challenges the traditional distinction between eros, the love found in Greek thought, and agape, the love characteristic of Christianity. Focusing on a number of classic texts, including Plato’s Symposium and Lysis, Aristotle’s Ethics and Metaphysics, and famous passages in Gregory of Nyssa, Origen, Dionysius the Areopagite, Plotinus, Augustine, and Thomas Aquinas, the author shows that Plato’s account of eros is not founded on self-interest. In this way, she restores the place of erotic love as a Christian motif, and unravels some longstanding confusions in philosophical discussions of love.

Comment: The author’s view represents a new approach to ancient views on eros and its place in the Christian tradition. It is suitable for undergraduate or postgraduate courses on Ethics and Ancient Philosophy. Perfect as a secondary reading for students working on Plato’s Symposium and Lysis, or Aristotle’s Ethics and Metaphysics.

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