“My thesis is, in a nutshell, that love is in fact even more profound and basic to our being than most of our talk about it would suggest,” writes the late philosopher Robert Solomon in the preface to “About Love: Reinventing Romance For Our Times” (1988, 1994, 2006).
Solomon, the former Quincy Lee Centennial Professor of Business and Philosophy and a distinguished teaching professor, passed away in 2007 at the age of 64. But his ideas about life, love, relationships and sex, live on in his books.
“About Love” covers a comprehensive array of questions about the nature of love, including the idealization of love, the joys of sex, love at first sight, the meaning of fidelity and how to make love last.
According to Solomon, love remains such a mystery in part because those who have tried to explain love over the centuries have either sung its praises or reduced it from a grand emotion to a domestic science. He calls these theorists the “foggers” and the “facilitators,” and both have contributed to misunderstandings about love, according to the scholar.
“The Foggers tell us how wonderful love is but they don’t tell us what it is,” Solomon writes. “They often tell us how rare true love is, but they rarely tell us the truth about love—that love is in fact quite ordinary, less than cosmic, not the answer to all of life’s problems and sometimes calmitous.”
On the other hand, the facilitators have oversimplified the nature of love, Solomon argues.
“The Faciliators, by contrast, have turned love into a set of skills—negotiating, expressing your feelings…sharing the housework…” Solomon writes. “While the Foggers make love more mysterious, the Facilitators make thinking about love facile.”
The philosopher provides an antidote to both of these schools of thought in “About Love” by asking the age-old question “What is love?” and offering an answer that goes beyond mere physical attraction or everyday commodity.
Solomon favors a theory of love that dates back to Plato, which imagines love as a union of two souls. How do you define love?