preface  pp. vii-viii

preface

By Robert Brown

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This book was intended to be, and remains, a short introduction to a subject whose boundaries recede with each attempt to characterize them. Nevertheless, the role of benevolence, care, solicitude, and love in human life is so obvious and important that at first glance any new discussion of it may seem to be redundant. Yet the truth is otherwise. For the character of personal relations in advanced industrial societies is constantly being altered by the ceaseless changes in the social institutions of which those relations are a part. Hence as members of such societies, it is natural for us to wish to examine those relationships over a period of time in order to understand what sort of people we are in the process of becoming. Before we can do that, however, we have to try to remind ourselves of the nature of the emotions and attitudes that are embedded in some of our ways of dealing with other people, and with animals and objects. Love and care are basic elements in many of these practices, and thus the former will attract attention whenever the latter are under close scrutiny. For this and other reasons there has been renewed interest in recent years concerning the connections among the different emotions and various traits of human character on the one hand, and the links between both of these and the moral virtues and vices on the other. In Analyzing Love I have attempted to discuss at length only some aspects of one emotion, but it should be clear that a powerful motive for doing so is eventually to shed light, if possible, on our judgments – or misjudgments – of human character.