What sense are we to make of the promise of love against the contingency of human life? I discuss two replies to this question: (1) the suggestion that marriage, based on the probable success of this kind of relationship, is a more or less worthwhile endeavour (cf. Moller and Landau), and (2) Martha Nussbaum's Aristotelian proposal that we only live life fully if we embrace aspects of life, such as loving relationships, that are vulnerable to fortune. I show that both responses, in different ways, depend on the presupposition that the sense of our promises to love is dependent on our ability to make predictions. The philosophers I discuss assume an epistemological standpoint from which we may attempt to judge whether it is in our general interest to love. I argue that embracing such a perspective by itself leads our attention away from the kind of personal and moral engagement in other people of which our promises to love are expressive. From the perspective of love, the attempt to calculate the risks and gains of loving itself appears as a moral failure to be present to the reality of other people.
- Moral philosophy