5 Great Books on the Philosophy of Love - Selected by Choice Reviewer Richard White

Plato wrote about love and Aristotle wrote about friendship. But since then, and until quite recently, the philosophy of love has been neglected. Perhaps philosophers recoil from whatever seems to triumph over reason? But, happily, the philosophy of love is flourishing once again, and there is plenty to read!

about love book cover

About Love: Reinventing Romance for Our Times, by Robert C. Solomon. Simon and Schuster, 1988.
A first-rate philosopher takes a look at romantic love and explains in a very thoughtful and exciting way just what love is, and why it is so important. Lots of insight, but no jargon to speak of!

I Love to You: Sketch for a Felicity within History, by Luce Irigaray; trans. by Alison Martin. Routledge, 1996.
In these powerful essays, Irigaray writes compellingly and poetically about the possibility of love between two that would inspire and enhance both of them—not reducing the one to the other or ending in self-abandonment.

little book on love book cover

A Little Book on Love, by Jacob Needleman. Doubleday/Currency, 1996.
What happens after you fall in love? Needleman describes how love can grow as it inspires the spiritual journey of two who care for each other. He describes the possibility of authentic speech and mindful listening; also, Rumi and Rilke, who dwell on the spiritual experience of love.

nature of love book cover

The Nature of Love: Plato to Luther, by Irving Singer. 2nd ed. Chicago, 1984.
This is actually just the first volume in Singer’s majestic three volume philosophical history of love from the ancients to modern existentialism. A very full and thoughtful account of love in the Western world.

On Love: A Philosophy for the Twenty-First Century, by Luc Ferry, trans. by Arthur Brown. Polity, 2013.
Ferry argues that love is now the only ideal that we can all agree on, and the only ideal that most of us would die for. A very contemporary account of love as a new principle of meaning.

About the author:

Richard White (Creighton University, is a professor of philosophy. He is the author of several books, among them Nietzsche and the Problem of Sovereignty (Illinois, 1997), Love’s Philosophy (Rowman & Littlefield, 2001), and—most recently—The Spiritual Guide: Four Steps on the Path of Enlightenment (Cascade, 2016).