The Focus of Love

Sharon Krishek*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


It is widely agreed that the focus of love is 'the beloved herself' - but what does this actually mean? Implicit in J. David Velleman's view of love is the intriguing suggestion that to have 'the beloved herself' as the focus of love is to respond to her essence. However, Velleman understands the beloved's essence to amount to the universal quality of personhood, with the result that the beloved's particularity becomes marginalized in his account. I therefore suggest an alternative. Based on Soren Kierkegaard's analysis of the self, I demonstrate that the beloved being 'herself' is determined by a quality - selfhood - that is both essential and particular to her. To have as the focus of love 'the beloved herself,' I claim, is to respond to this quality, which is to respond to her individual essence.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)508-522
Number of pages15
JournalCanadian Journal of Philosophy
Issue number7
StatePublished - 14 Oct 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The writing of this article was supported by The Israel Science Foundation (grant no. 111/16). It is the result of a very long endeavour, and I thank all those who encouraged me along the way. The article took its final shape thanks to the input of many people, and in particular I would like to thank Oded Na’aman and Carl Posy, who helped me significantly in clarifying the nature of the question that I’m after; to David Enoch, Avi Kenan, and Dar Triffon Reshef for reading this article attentively and providing invaluable feedback; and to Ariel Meirav for endless hours of conversation that gave rise to many of the ideas presented here. Finally, I would like to express my deep gratitude to the two anonymous reviewers for CJP, who clearly invested much thought in reading this article and whose comments undoubtedly improved and strengthened it. 1

Publisher Copyright:
© The Author(s), 2022. Published by Cambridge University Press on behalf of Canadian Journal of Philosophy


  • Essence
  • Kierkegaard
  • Velleman
  • individual
  • love
  • particularity
  • personhood
  • selfhood


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