Loving a Narrator





love, moral emotion, narrative, rationality of love, narrative agency


We love people because of who they are, but can the idea of “who they are” be explained through a property that everyone has, such as agency? David Velleman believes this to be the case, and argues that love is an appraisal of a person’s incomparable value, which disarms the lover’s emotional defences. Modelling love on Kantian respect, Velleman claims that love is a response to a person’s rational nature, indirectly perceived though her empirical persona—her observable traits and behaviours, which are imperfect representations of the value of rational nature. An important problem for Velleman’s account is that it seems incompatible with two widely shared assumptions about love: that love is personal (so it cannot be analogous to impersonal respect) and that love is selective (so it cannot be based on a property shared by all individuals). Here, I propose a re-formulation of Velleman’s view that avoids those objections while preserving the idea that love is an evaluation of the loved person’s agency. Specifically, love is an evaluation of a person’s inner narrator, which is also a person’s capacity to act for reasons—to make actions intelligible to herself. The inner narrator is perceived through that person’s observable narrative: her actions and interpretations in interaction, which are a product, and not an imperfect representation, of the inner narrator. In the re-formulated view, love is both personal and selective, but still an agential process that involves both the lover and the loved person’s capacities to make sense of the world.




How to Cite

Lopez-Cantero, P. (2024) “Loving a Narrator”, Passion: Journal of the European Philosophical Society for the Study of Emotions, 2(1), pp. 48–63. doi:10.59123/e7nb7a64.