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Understanding LovePhilosophy, Film, and Fiction$
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Susan Wolf and Christopher Grau

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780195384512

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2014

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195384512.001.0001

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Loving Attention

Loving Attention

Lessons in Love From The Philadelphia Story

(p.369) 17 Loving Attention
Understanding Love

Susan Wolf

Oxford University Press

What is the relationship between love and knowledge? Using the concept of “loving attention” found in Iris Murdoch’s philosophical essays and the film The Philadelphia Story, the paper considers and rejects the view that love casts the beloved in a rosy light. The best kind of lover is attentive to the beloved, and comes to know her clearly and accurately. This does not imply, however, that love must be independent of judgment or that everyone must be considered equally lovable. The best sort of love does not demand perfection in the beloved, but it can be selective. The paper explores the implications of these views for the role of love in ethics, and particularly for understanding what the virtue of love might be. Further, it suggests extending the conception of interpersonal love developed in the essay to a model for love of other activities, such as love of the movies.

Keywords:   Iris Murdoch, The Philadelphia Story, loving attention, perfection, judgment, the virtue of love

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