Love, sex and relationships

Authored by: Mike W. Martin

The Handbook of Virtue Ethics

Print publication date:  November  2013
Online publication date:  September  2014

Print ISBN: 9781844656394
eBook ISBN: 9781315729053
Adobe ISBN: 9781317544777


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Erotic (or sexual) love unites two highly celebrated goods, sex and love. Sex, according to Michel Foucault (1980–88: 1.156), is the pathway to identity and individuality, and “over the centuries it has become more important than our soul, more important almost than our life”. Love, proclaims Simon May (2011: 6), is “the rapture we feel for people and things that inspire in us the hope of an indestructible grounding for our life”. Combining these themes of identity and grounding, Robert Solomon (1988: 195) depicts erotic love as “the attempt to find another person who will give us a sense of our ‘true’ selves and make us feel complete, once and for all”. In highlighting the importance of erotic love, such glowing statements intimate the perplexities about how sex and love are connected, and should be connected. Their successful union requires both luck and the virtues, in myriad combinations.

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