In Praise of Love | Alain Badiou

Summary of: In Praise of Love
By: Alain Badiou


In the book ‘In Praise of Love,’ French philosopher Alain Badiou confronts the modern understanding and perception of love, taking a critical view on how dating-app culture, commitment-phobia, and superficial myths surrounding love threaten its very essence. Badiou argues that love involves risk and is a transformative experience that goes beyond mere compatibility and shared interests. Dive into a thought-provoking exploration of the true nature of love, and learn how it changes our perspectives, transcends divisions, and provides meaning to our lives.

The Dangers of Risk-Free Love

Love is inherently risky, yet dating apps are threatening love by eliminating much of the risk. Badiou argues that this promotes a sterilized idea of love that’s all about servicing your desires, rather than the dangerous and exciting element of love, which makes it such an intense and existentially challenging experience. In effect, dating app culture is more akin to an arranged marriage than true love. To preserve the element of danger against a safety-first culture that avoids risk, we must re-embrace the challenge, surprise, and adventure into the unknown that true love brings.

Debunking Love’s Myths

The author of “In Praise of Love” explains how the shallow understanding of love is causing people to sabotage their relationships. In today’s society, two myths prevent people from valuing long-term, committed relationships. The sceptical position considers love to be only sexual desire in disguise, while the second myth treats love as just a form of pleasure, which means it is not essential. The problem with both myths is that they are self-centered and view love as simply a means of gratifying oneself. According to the author, true love is the key to connecting us to something bigger and breaking us out of our pleasure-seeking bubbles.

Love as a Transformative Encounter

Love is not just about emotions or bodily intimacy but also about thinking. According to Badiou, love is an encounter with another being that completely changes the way we think and live. Love is an event that shakes our basic assumptions and injects something new into our thinking. When we fall in love, we open a door for another being into our world, rupturing our solitary, egocentric world and adding an extra dimension to it. Philosophers, artists, and thinkers of all stripes ought to be lovers, for it reveals new aspects of reality that otherwise we wouldn’t have access to.

The Power of “I love you”

Saying “I love you” transforms a trivial event into one that gives meaning to the whole of life.

The phrase “I love you” may seem like a convention that couples just say to one another, but it possesses real power that alters the world when uttered. It binds two lives and transforms a fragile, uncertain nature of a relationship into something more solid and resilient. Saying these three little words can make a trivial event give meaning to the whole of life, and that’s why some people have stage fright the first time they try to say it.

Love always starts with a chance encounter, and there comes a time when the initial trivial nature of the relationship has to be transformed into something more significant. The declaration of love is when a couple decides to take that step. However, it does not end there. Love is something that has to be built and reinforced over time. Relationships are full of trials and temptations, and every time a relationship faces an obstacle, it is essential to reaffirm the initial declaration of love.

Given the possibility of separation, lovers have a deep urgency to reaffirm their connection. This explains why couples say “I love you” so frequently. It shows us the paradox of love, where a random, trivial encounter can evolve into something so significant that it gives structure and meaning to an entire human life. Therefore, do not underestimate the power of saying “I love you” as it could transform a trivial encounter into something that provides meaning to life.

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