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Stump on Aquinas on Love

All undergraduates are invited to join Zephyr for a discussion of Eleanor Stump's Thomistic account of the nature of love.

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Stump on Aquinas on Love
Stump on Aquinas on Love

Time & Location

Jan 31, 2024, 6:00 PM – 8:00 PM

Palo Alto, 2345 Dartmouth St, Palo Alto, CA 94306, USA

About the Event

All undergraduates are invited to join Zephyr on Wednesday, 31 January for a seminar-style philosophical discussion about the nature of love. Our discussion will focus on understanding and evaluating the account of love that Eleanore Stump develops in the fifth chapter (“The Nature of Love”) of her book Wandering in Darkness. This professes to be a revival and further articulation of the account Aquinas gives of love—or, more exactly, of what he calls the love of friendship (amor amicitiae), the sort of love of which charity (that supernaturally infused love of God that stands at the center of Aquinas’s ethical system) is a species.

According to Stump, understanding Aquinas’s account of love can help us understand what has gone wrong with contemporary accounts. These accounts tend to make love either a response to some properties the lover takes to be valuable in the beloved or a care for the beloved that itself confers value upon the beloved. The former struggles to explain why love is not substitutable: why should you not abandon your friend when you meet someone with still more valuable properties? The latter struggles to explain why we have reason to love the particular people we love rather than anyone else. Stump thinks Aquinas’s account escapes this dilemma—and also provides resources for understanding other features of love such as its deep connection with forgiveness.

Is she right? Does Aquinas’s account represent an improvement on contemporary accounts? If not, where do Stump and Aquinas go wrong? 

This discussion will be led by Zephyr’s Director of Academic Programs, Landon Hobbs. Participants are encouraged to read the chapter in advance, which can be found here. Dinner will be provided, so please RSVP so that Zephyr can have an accurate headcount beforehand.


All Stanford undergraduates are encouraged to register for this event.

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