On Love: A Philosophy for the Twenty-First Century

On Love: A Philosophy for the Twenty-First Century

In his book “On Love”, Luc Ferry expands on but also personalizes and clarifies some of his positions in “A Brief History of Thought.” Simply put, Ferry claims that because we love our families, we can empathize with others from different ethnic backgrounds,  social classes or other cultures who also love their families. Encouraging us to adopt an outlook that I would summarize as global love, he sees hope for at long last adopting  an ethos by which we could achieve and maintain world peace and justice.

Ferry claims that this new model of reality is superior to Kant’s original categorical imperatives because this new way of approaching humanism involves the heart rather than just the head. As marriages of arrangement have shifted more and more to marriages based on romantic love, and as the love of children became exalted in the twentieth century, love rather than pure reason motivates us in our search for truth.

Ferry discusses how this “revolution of love” could  transform politics, education and the arts. He goes into some detail about how the deconstructionism which reached its zenith in Nietzsche and Marx impacted not only politics, but both education and the arts as well. Believing that we are mired in the philosophies of the past which no longer address today’s problems, Ferry suggests that we can move forward by embracing this revisiting of the Golden Rule advocated by Christ and others, but adding to it the wisdom we have acquired by ruthlessly challenging tradition and authority. Ferry maintains that we are no longer advanced by the simplistic notion that all change is good. He holds that we have become addicted to innovation in every area of life, as evidenced by our rabid consumerism.

Encouraging gentleness and reciprocal respect in us all…

Since creativity has always involved a synthesis of various influences and images, I believe that Ferry is on the right track. What he actually recommends here, is a synthesis of all that is best from the past with the openness to the discoveries and constructive innovation of the future. He especially delves into how a blending of educational methods that worked well in the past with a new emphasis on the needs of the individual child can revolutionize education. Similarly, art that respects and encompasses beauty, love and a sense of responsibility for its social impact, rather than just rewarding innovation and shock value, can help to change the world in positive ways. A wholesome art, in the best sense of that word, which originally meant whole, or holistic if you prefer, could go far to encourage gentleness and reciprocal respect in us all. Love could truly be the cure for all that ails us.

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