Tuesday, 21 May 2019
Patricia Grosse: When the Love is Bad: An Epistemology of Concupiscence through Augustine’s Philosophy of Love
Modern theories of emotion distinguish between loves: true loves, puppy loves, parental loves, child love, friendly loves, Platonic loves, the love for pets, the love for and of non-human others. States like obsession, lust, the desire for domination, the laser focus of an abuser to their victim, are often considered a distinct from love.These series of emotional states are set over and against love: they are false loves, they masquerade as the real thing but deep down have their origin in violence and hatred, misogyny and rage. These states can provoke visceral responses from the champions of love: they are not real love. But what if these vicious states are kinds of love? What if they come from the same place whence the purest of loves spring? What if they are, in fact, forms of Bad Love?In this essay, I provide a critical analysis of Bad Love through the lens of Augustine of Hippo’s account of love as the foundation for all human emotion. This analysis is grounded in feminist theory, the history of emotions, and moral psychology. By drawing on Augustine’s philosophy of love and emotion to support a “new” way of reading this harsh side of love, I will propose an epistemology of Bad Love that provides a grounding for new readings of the philosophy of love.