Alan Soble's Review of 'The Reasons of Love' by Harry Frankfurt: 'Love and Value, Yet Again'

Essays in Philosophy 6:1 (January 2005)

25 Pages Posted: 13 Sep 2013

See all articles by Alan Soble

Alan Soble

University of New Orleans

Date Written: June 1, 2004


This essay is a critical review of Harry Frankfurt's book The Reasons of Love. Frankfurt's views about love are situated within the history of the philosophy of love; he includes elements from the ancients through his 20th-century colleagues. Soble argues that the analysis of love proposed by Frankfurt, which contains four necessary conditions, is inadequate. As argued earlier by Susan Wolf (but confirmed with new arguments), Frankfurt is unable to overcome problems in his account of the relationship between love and value. About love, a “Euthyphro” problem arises: does X love Y because X finds antecedent value in Y or does X find value in Y because X loves Y? Frankfurt prefers the second. As against the first, he argues that it is logically impossible to answer “who (what) should we love?” We can only note that due to evolution, we do love certain things. Frankfurt proposes four necessary conditions for love. The review investigates what additional condition might yield sufficiency. It also points out that evolutionary biology is inconsistent with each of Frankfurt's four conditions. Further, even though Frankfurt aimed at a naturalistic analysis of love, but gave up on that project at a stage at which he dearly needed naturalism to begin to save his theory of love.

Keywords: Love, Value, Beauty, Augustine, Hume, Kant, Susan Wolf, Agape, Eros, Concern, Affection, Plato, Aristotle

Suggested Citation

Soble, Alan, Alan Soble's Review of 'The Reasons of Love' by Harry Frankfurt: 'Love and Value, Yet Again' (June 1, 2004). Essays in Philosophy 6:1 (January 2005). Available at SSRN:

Alan Soble (Contact Author)

University of New Orleans ( email )

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New Orleans, LA 70148
United States

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