Research question 4. Anthropology of Love


(a) Christianity. How damaging has been the Christian tradition of polarizing eros as physical desire and agape as self-giving love, and denigrating the first in favour of the second? This dualism, with its roots in Augustine, was enhanced in Luther, Kierkegaard and Anders Nygren.
By contrast, how may selfless love may be understood as facilitating human flourishing (useful conversation partners here are modern theologians Paul Tillich, Karl Rahner and Eberhard Jüngel)? How can a subjectivity of love be developed which is fully embodied, integrating desire and spiritual love, and which is formed within community rather than individualistically?
What can be said for the Christian tradition that human beings become subjects when God loves in them?

(b) Islam. What contribution can the Islamic concept of Ummah Wāhidah (world community) make to the relational and corporate nature of the loving individual?
What light might Al-Ghazali’s treatment of the relation between divine causation and human agency in love throw on modern views of the relation of God to the world? (See Book of Love in The Revival of the Religious Sciences (Iḥyāʾ ʿulūm al-dīn, chapter 36).

(c) Judaism. What contribution is made to religious anthropology by the myth of original human androgyne, as found in Rabbinic midrash of Genesis and in Judah Abravanah’s Dialoghi d’Amore (adapted from Aristophanes and as cited by Plato in his Symposium)?
Do Jewish writers such as Judah Abravanah succeed in integrating physical desire with spiritual love?

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