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What Love Is


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Table of Contents

Prologue: On Being a Philosopher In Love (Maybe) Introduction 1. Love Is Biology 2. Love Is Society 3. Gems at the Garage Sale: Philosophers on Love 4. Love Is as Love Does: Love's Dual Nature 5. Under Construction: Love's Changing Role 6. What Needs to Change 7. It's Love, Jim, but Not as We Know It: The Future (via the Past) Coda: Make It So

About the Author

Carrie S. I. Jenkins is Professor of Philosophy at the University of British Columbia, Vancouver, and a nationally elected Canada Research Chair. Jenkins received her BA, MPhil and Ph.D. degrees from Trinity College, Cambridge, where she read philosophy in the analytic tradition shaped by Bertrand Russell, Ludwig Wittgenstein, and G.E. Moore. She previously held academic posts at the University of St Andrews, the Australian National University, and the University of Michigan. She tweets @carriejenkins.


"[Jenkins] lets readers in on some personal secrets, thereby creating the feeling that the book is a safe thinking space. Her personal approach also humanizes her argument because it gives readers concrete examples about the aggressions, judgments, and discriminations to which she has been subjected... An exceptionally clear and easily readable account of the current research into romantic love and ideas for how we might think differently about it." -Los Angeles Review of Books "A testament to love... accessible to all." -National Post "A rich and thoughtful book... Jenkins writes simply and engagingly about a subject on all our minds."-Toronto Star "Jenkins navigates readers through philosophical and metaphysical conversations in an accessible, conversational, and frequently funny way, using analogies that are both memorable and useful... a readable and highly informative book... [Jenkins] stimulates an essential, relevant conversation in a novel, inspiring way." -Quill & Quire "Required reading... Equally important to its subject matter, the book is a master class in how to think and why. Jenkins researches, questions, unpacks, considers, and examines... [she] uses her readable book to advocate for thinking both critically and in great depth as a form of self-protection and self-advocacy." -Booklist, starred review "Jump-starts a serious conversation about the true meaning of love and its societal implications... [Jenkins's] message to readers-'think about love for yourself'-is clear, and her vulnerable voice is charming and relatable." -Publishers Weekly "A provocative start to a complex subject." -Library Journal "Anyone feeling disenchanted or discomforted by the itchy constraints of traditional, heteronormative, monogamous, pair-bonded, procreative, romantic love will be well-served to read Jenkins' accessible and incisive treatise on what love is. Within her argumentation is a well-placed critique of the misogyny and heterosexism woven throughout traditional philosophical and scientific discourse on love. Through a feminist lens, she studies these biases and reveals their links to contemporary beliefs about love and relationships, highlighting how these constructs ultimately constrain expressions of affection from the many possible configurations that, for some, may be more satisfying than the monolithic norm of monogamous, heterosexual love. Hers is a readable, entertaining, and poignant commentary on the current state of thinking, sure to ignite passionate conversation while working to dissolve the artificial boundaries limiting our experience of love." -Meredith L. Chivers, Associate Professor of Psychology, Queen's University "This is a remarkable book, philosophically rich but also personal in a way that is rare. It uses the almost cliched question what love is to draw the reader into a fascinating multidisciplinary exploration, drawing from science, history, philosophy, and politics. It's highly accessible to any reader, yet it also makes important original philosophical points-an extraordinary combination. It's a great introduction not just to its topic, but to what philosophy can be at its finest: rigorously argued and yet deeply relevant to the most important issues in our lives." -Jennifer M. Saul, Professor of Philosophy, University of Sheffield "Is love biological? Is love a social construct? Is it both? Does it matter? For anyone who thinks he or she "knows" what love is-or who insists it's a mystery we can't know and shouldn't even try-Carrie Jenkins' provocative, well-researched and highly enjoyable What Love Is and What it Could Be is a must-read. Jenkins gently but thoroughly strips away any preconceived notions of romantic love and instead offers the promise of a broader, more inclusive and, yes, more loving version of love." - Vicki Larson, journalist and co-author of The New I Do: Reshaping Marriage for Skeptics, Realists and Rebels "This book is an invitation to think for yourself about what romantic love is and might be. Carrie Jenkins writes with great clarity and openness about a concept that matters to us all." -Nigel Warburton, author of A Little History of Philosophy

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