8. The Elephant in the Room
We have argued that most of the accounts of love we’ve considered this semester at best get only part of the story of love right. In particular, we argued that many theories of love give a necessary, but not sufficient, condition on love. For example, recall Firestone’s account whereby love is a state of mutual vulnerability. It may be true, then, that
If X loves Y, then X and Y are mutually vulnerable to one another.
Indeed, let us just simply grant for the sake of argument that love implies mutual vulnerability. That is, let us grant that mutual vulnerability is a necessary condition on love. It seems another and much more difficult proposition to accept that mutual vulnerability implies love. That is, mutual vulnerability does not also seem to be a sufficient condition on love, since it seems false to say that
If X and Y are mutually vulnerable to one another, then X loves Y.
To show this, all we need is an example where we have mutual vulnerability, but no love. Give such an example to show that Firestone has at most captured a small part of the phenomenon of love. Can you conduct similar analyses for Singer, Nozick, Baier, and Frankfurt? If so, do so. If not, do you think the theory indeed fully accounts for love? Why or why not?
9. Love is not love Which alters when it alteration finds
Use Frankfurt’s account of love to explain and justify Shakespeare’s famous Sonnet 116.
Let me not to the marriage of true minds
Admit impediments. Love is not love
Which alters when it alteration finds,
Or bends with the remover to remove:
O no! it is an ever-fixed mark
That looks on tempests and is never shaken;
It is the star to every wandering bark,
Whose worth’s unknown, although his height be taken.
Love’s not Time’s fool, though rosy lips and cheeks
Within his bending sickle’s compass come:
Love alters not with his brief hours and weeks,
But bears it out even to the edge of doom.
If this be error and upon me proved,
I never writ, nor no man ever loved.
Is the thesis you find expressed in Sonnet 116 true? Using examples, explain why or why not.