VIRTUAL LECTURE - To Be Held & to Be Seen: Love’s Moral Core & the Security of Wondering

Color Head Shot of Jeremy Bendik-Keymer
December 1, 2020, 4:30 PM

Click HERE to watch to video.

In 2003, the Berkeley philosopher Niko Kolodny published an important paper in Philosophical Review called “Love as Valuing a Relationship.”  It introduced the idea, uncommon to Anglophone moral philosophy of the century before him, that love needs to be understood within relationships, not simply as a matter of desire, and that, by extension, there is a moral core to love.  The problem was that Kolodny maintained love as a practical matter consisting of evaluative judgments, and he drew on a conventional understanding of relationships that are good to support it.  But love isn’t just another way to size things up (although it may help one do so), and love is essentially unconventional (although it makes many conventions free and alive).  Rather, love is about connecting with others.  It makes relationships.  This autonomous quality of love explains the doomed and immoral love of Bonnie and Clyde as well as Petra von Kant’s convention-busting, disorienting love.  If there’s anything normative in love, it’s found in the demands of connection.  To explore some of these, Jeremy Bendik-Keymer, Elmer G. Beamer-Hubert H. Schneider Professor in Ethics, will focus on the developmental work of Martha Nussbaum in Upheavals of Thought, where the need to be held and to be seen forms the child’s capacity to connect with others and the world in what she calls “original joy.”  If there is any moral core to love, it’s that the need to be seen and to be held surfaces again, promising through such connection that we will be freer for the world that is meaningful to us.

Due to social distancing requirements, this Faculty Work-in-Progress lecture will be presented virtually.  It will be hosted at

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Click HERE for Professor Bendik-Keymer's Faculty Page.