Coalescent Love: A Philosophical and Psychological Exploration of the Phenomenon of Love

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Jason Mitala
Paul Camacho


What do we mean by “love?” Historically, this question was answered by philosophers, poets, theologians, and laypeople, but it is only recently that we have begun exploring the question from a scientific perspective. I argue that, to understand love clearly, we must draw from a variety of academic disciplines. My research explores a variety of contemporary and historical views of love and synthesizes these sources in favor of a multidimensional approach to academic inquiry. I trace thinkers such as Plato, Aristotle, Aquinas, Kierkegaard, Josef Pieper, Anders Nygren, and Erich Fromm and put their philosophies in conversation with a modern psychological theory, “Love as Mutual Communal Responsiveness.” I propose that paradoxes that occur in both our psychological and philosophical systems (such as the “problem of unselfish altruism”) can be answered only via an interdisciplinary conversation. I conclude that concepts such as altruism and self-love can only be studied psychologically insofar as they are understood philosophically and posit that this integration provides us with a more robust understanding of love.

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