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