Academics, Upper School

Students Study Philosophy of Love

Senior Philosophy students are spending the year studying philosophy through a variety of themes, including ethics, existentialism, and free will. According to teacher Adina Meyer, the recently studied theme is one of the more important for students to explore: the philosophy of love.

“The systems of patriarchy, capitalism, white supremacy are the biggest destroyers of love,” explains Adina. “Love is about deconstructing those three systems, and ultimately, it is very subversive. As Cornel West says, love is the most revolutionary force known to man. The students need to hear that message and honestly take it to heart.”

The core question students answered in the unit is a deceptively simple one: What does love mean to you?

To begin the assignment, students studied the history of romantic love in the West, discussing the Greek views of Eros, agape, and philia, Aristotle’s views on friendship, and courtly love in the Middle Ages. Throughout the unit, students read portions of All About Love, by Bell Hooks, as well as other selected literary works. They then chose from a variety of mediums to express what love means to them; a freedom Adina believed was necessary when discussing such a personal topic.

Tamrat H. responded by exploring the concept of attachment theory and love in an essay. He explains attachment theory as the need to connect with someone, a parent, child, or friend, in order to develop yourself.

“This project has really pushed me to think critically,” says Tamrat. “Often in life, we pass over love. We don’t define it, critique it, or critique the way we think about it. To put an everyday feeling into an academic construct makes me ask myself questions. It’s useful to have an experience like that."

Clara M. wrote a poem for her project and wove in quotes from All About Love and The Happiness Hypothesis, by Jonathan Haidt. Clara enjoyed how the project not only explored romantic love, but also self-love and love for friends or acquaintances, somethings she said she hadn’t considered before.

“Asking my friends about what they think love is, and my parents and grandparents, it is all a different perspective and interesting to hear,” says Clara. “Love has been on my mind more and I see it in a lot more things since we started this project.”

Next, students will study Kafka’s Metamorphosis and the philosophy of relativism.