Central and East European
Society for Phenomenology

Conference | Paper

Love and Disagreement

Sonja Rinofner-Kreidl

Thursday 2 December 2021

10:20 - 11:00

Zoom 1-2

At first sight, tackling with the topic of love and disagreement is confronted with two serious objec­tions. On the one hand, the status of love as a moral emotion is highly controversial. This is due to the fact that love is directed towards particular objects. Yet, with regard to demands of impartiality, univer­sality, or objectivity love’s commitment to particular objects has been considered either as a tho­roughly problematic implication or, as Bernard Williams argued, as a significant clue for being suspicious of any ethical theory that revolves around demands of impartiality, universal validity, general principles, and the like. On the other hand, love seems unsuited for drawing up unequivocal and sub­stan­tial argu­ments concerning disagreement. Lovingly atten­ding to another person means to bestow positive appraisal. It, therefore, excludes disagreement in terms of an all-things-considered negative judgment upon their beloved one. Yet, on a broader scale, lovers may nonetheless get involved in disagreements, both on the social and practical implications of their loving relations and all sorts of other issues. Contrary to this view on love as part of people’s real and messy lives, philosophers may focus on the pure nature of love as a specific type of intentional experience, leaving aside all kinds of contingent circum­stances that invite disagreement. Love, thus conceived, cherishes relations to various objects that mark the very opposite of disagreement by striving for satis­faction, harmo­ny, and unity, or unification, respec­tively. The present paper focuses on the intentional structure and feeling qualities involved in love as a specific emotional experience. It argues that ambivalence and disagreement carry through the visible manifestations of love to its deeper levels, both in terms of a person’s character and the complexity of love as an emotion whose reality reveals itself according to different types and different layers of loving. The author explores a deep level intertwinement of love and disagree­ment, which allows for facing disagreement in a generous and conciliatory manner, thereby making up love’s radiating social and moral power. As will be shown by inquiring into Dietrich von Hildebrand’s conception of love as a supervalue response and by developing a new account of love-respect, disagreement in a certain sense is part of love’s in-depth structure. The outcome of this inquiry is twofold. First, establishing different types of love and different levels of investigating love enables us to gain a better under­standing of the range of disagreement in human consciousness and human lives. Second, the signifi­cance of love as a moral emotion is determined by transcending first-level object directed instances of love in favor of a deep-level account of love-respect. By doing so, we may then reassess the above-mentioned quarrel between advocates of univer­salism and particularism.

Panel details

Forms and Levels of Dis/Agreement

chaired by Fabio Rovigo

Art Experience and Disagreement

Antonia Veitschegger


Love and Disagreement

Sonja Rinofner-Kreidl