James Bryson (University of Cambridge)
John Cottingham (University of Reading)
Douglas Hedley (University of Cambridge)
Simon May (King's College London)
Roger Scruton (University of Buckingham)
What is the status of love in the contemporary world? Is it a human fiction or an objective truth? Is love apprehended by reason, or is it a feeling that reason cannot describe? Recent theories of love claim that we cannot know love’s ontological status in the contemporary world, nor indeed can we speculate about its future without knowing its past. This event will endeavour to trace love’s history in the western philosophical and literary tradition from Plato through late antiquity, the middle ages, and up to and including the modern world.
The conference aims to put philosophers, theologians, literary theorists, intellectual historians and psychologists into conversation with one another, in order to i) re-tell love’s story in the history of ideas; ii) to assess the contemporary relevance of this history; iii) and to consider what love’s future may hold. This event, therefore, will be divided into two principal parts: the first will trace love’s history in the western philosophical and literary traditions, and the second will assess the ‘ontology of love’ – its metaphysical status - in contemporary thought and discourse.