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Of Love and Others' Histories

  • Date Submitted: 01/28/2010 01:22 AM
  • Flesch-Kincaid Score: 53.1 
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    Florentino Ariza, the protagonist in Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s Love in the Time of Cholera, finds himself smitten in his youth with another adolescent, Fermina Daza.   She returns his affections and the two begin a secret love affair.   They manage to keep their relationship hidden for several months, but Fermina’s father eventually catches wind of it.   He orders Florentino to stop seeing his daughter and admonishes Fermina, telling her that she can find someone better to love than a poor poet.   He sends her away to the countryside to forget the affair.  

Harry Frankfurt, in a discussion entitled On Caring, takes exception to such treatment.   He writes that, “The significance to us of caring is more basic than the importance to us of what we care about.”1   In other words, if we can love someone, we should love him—Fermina’s father should have been happy that she could love Florentino.   Susan Wolfe, however, has recently argued that this position is unacceptable.2   Surely, she contends, we can imagine situations in which we would want to tell someone that she should not love another person, that “she can do better.”   I am inclined to agree with Wolfe that such circumstances do arise, but I think that her position can be made stronger.   In this paper, I would like to explore grounds for telling anyone why she should or should not love something, be it another person, a piece of music, or even a type of literature.

            I will focus my first section on a discussion of instrumental versus intrinsic love.   I will then turn, in the second section, to Frankfurt’s position and Wolfe’s subsequent response.   I will use their debate as a framework to introduce, in the third and fourth sections, respectively, two considerations that will establish my position: the joint concepts of sense history and objective relational values.   The final section will address several objections to my view.   It should be kept in mind throughout, however,...


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