Self-Love and Practical Rationality

Edward Harcourt

in Morality and the Emotions

Published in print October 2011 | ISBN: 9780199577507
Published online January 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191731235 | DOI:
Self-Love and Practical Rationality

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This chapter argues that to exemplify self-love is to stand in the same relation to oneself as one stands in to another when one loves them. So it is a substantive claim, rather than a truism, that there is a constitutive link between self-love and practical rationality. After noticing some connections between this claim and some claims in both Aristotle and psychoanalytic theory, it is then argued that practically rational persons are indeed self-lovers. Frankfurt’s account of self-love is helpful in reaching this conclusion, but it also has limitations. A proper account of self-love must distinguish between two distinct dimensions of disinterestedness: caring about a loved one’s true interests for those interests’ sake, and caring about them for the loved one’s sake. It must also make room for the idea that self-love, like other-love, involves taking pleasure in the love-object.

Keywords: Aristotle; psychoanalysis; love; self-love; practical rationality; Frankfurt; self-interest; disinterestedness; pleasure

Chapter.  6853 words. 

Subjects: Moral Philosophy

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