Online Classes

The Philosophy of Love and Friendship

David Egan has degrees in Philosophy from the University of Oxford, the University of Toronto, and Harvard University and has taught philosophy and the humanities at Oxford, the University of Chicago, and several other institutions in Canada, the United States, and the United Kingdom. He is the author of The Pursuit of an Authentic Philosophy: Wittgenstein, Heidegger, and the Everyday, published by Oxford University Press.

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Love takes many forms. Some say it is the most important thing in life. Poets and pop singers can’t stop talking about it.

So what is love? And why does it matter so much?

This ten-week course investigates various forms of love and friendship, drawing on a mix of ancient and contemporary philosophers for guidance.

Register your interest and receive access to a short video outlining the main questions, themes, and readings we’ll be looking at in this course.

Classes meet once per week from May 25/26 to July 27/28, with sessions on Tuesdays and Wednesdays at 11am Pacific/2pm Eastern/7pm UK time and 6pm Pacific/9pm Eastern. We will have an additional introductory meeting on May 18/19.

The $350 CAD/$285 USD course fee, payable after the first week of class, includes ten 75-minute Zoom sessions and ten video lectures. I want these courses to be accessible to all, so I offer a pay-what-you-can option if you are under thirty or are unable to pay the full fee.

Course schedule

Weeks 1 and 2: In Praise of Love
Plato’s Symposium

Week 3: The Varieties of Friendship
Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics, Book 8

Week 4: Partial vs. Impartial Caring
The Xiaojing (Classic of Family Reverence) and Mozi chap. 16 (with special guest Mick Hunter)*

Week 5: “May All Beings Be Happy and Free from Suffering”
Buddhaghosa on lovingkindness (mettā)

Week 6: Existentialists in Love
Excerpts from Jean-Paul Sartre and Simone de Beauvoir

Week 7: Loving Attention
Iris Murdoch, “The Idea of Perfection”

Week 8: Does Love Have Its Reasons?
Troy Jollimore, Love’s Vision, chap. 1

Week 9: Is Friendship Morally Good?
Alexander Nehamas, “The Good of Friendship”

Week 10: Can You Love Someone for their Faults?
Vida Yao, “Grace and Alienation”

* Mick Hunter, Associate Professor of East Asian Languages and Literatures, will join us for a discussion of these two texts of classical Chinese philosophy.

Important book purchase information

Most of the texts for this course will be made available in PDF format through the course website. However, for copyright reasons, I will have to ask you to get your own copy of Plato’s great dialogue, the Symposium. I will be using the translation of Paul Woodruff and Alexander Nehamas published by Hackett, but you should be able to follow along okay with a different translation if need be.

I encourage you to order the book through your local independent bookseller.