Part 03: Love

Practical Philosophy - Love

Everyone has pure love within their nature. This signifies an absence of selfishness or limit. Despite evidence to the contrary, we all try to express pure love in our daily lives.

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10 Weeks



Next Schedule

22nd April 2024 - 30th June 2024

The life that goes out in love to all is the life that is full, and rich, and continually expanding in beauty and power. (Ralph Waldo Emerson)

The theme of this course is love. We explore questions such as: What is love? How is it gained and how is it lost? What is love's effect on actions? Is it universal or limited?

We are asked to consider whether everyone has love in their nature. We explore the difference between pure and impure love. Pure love is untainted by selfishness, unrestricted by any sense of limit. Love is conducive to a full, rich and inclusive life; selfishness results in a small and exclusive life.

With pure love there is stillness, the heart is at rest. We explore the need to look beyond appearances to understand the true nature of ourselves and others.

Week 1

Three forms of love Eros, Philia and Agape

Since the time of the ancient Greeks the question, ‘What is love?’ has been a mainstay of philosophy. Our word 'love' is rather general. It covers a great variety of feelings. The ancient Greeks considered it in three ways.

Week 2

The Expression of Love. Thomas a Kempis

During this term we can take the opportunity to hear and study what some of the great teachers and writers from the past have had to say about love. This evening we shall hear from Thomas à Kempis, who lived between 1379 and 1471. He is known as the author of a work called ‘The Imitation of Christ’ which many consider to be the most influential work in Christian literature after the Bible. The statement that we shall hear is a description of the pure love, the agape. It emphasises the nature of love to overcome all obstacles and limits.

Week 3

Love is the Natural In-Between

The idea that love is natural, constant and, as we have discussed, 'the natural in-between' is to be found in many philosophical sources. One such source is a work called 'The Consolation of Philosophy' by Boethius

Week 4

Loving whatever it is that is most essential about a person

When we say that we love someone, what is it about that person that we love? Is it just the physical body? Is it the way that person behaves, or thinks or feels? Or is it all of these things together? Or is there something more? Do we ever love someone even if their actions are at times unlovable? Viktor Frankl says ‘salvation of man is through love’. Do we agree?

Week 5

The force of love resulting in duality and conflict

Conflict is a natural part of the world. We will never do away with it. But we do not have to add to it, nor do we have to be bound to it. We can either manage it well or badly. It is therefore helpful to see as clearly as possible what gives rise to it. Shri Shantananda Saraswati said that not only does love sustain everything in the world, but love is also the cause of hostility when it is in some way hindered.

Week 6

The relationship between love and gratitude

The Meditations of Marcus Aurelius begin with a long list of people to whom he expresses his gratitude.The expression of gratitude can have the effect of encouraging generosity and it can also help to maintain the flow of love.

Week 7

The Sufis – Mystical Love

The poetry of Rumi speaks a lot about God, by which universal love could be understood.Rumi was born in Afghanistan, then part of the Persian Empire, in 1207 and lived until 1273. He was one of the greatest Sufi mystics and he saw music, poetry and dance as a path for reaching the divine.

Week 8

Stoicism - Epictetus

One question that arises in daily life is whether it is possible to retain love and happiness in the face of adversity and hardship. It is impossible to completely avoid difficulties in life, so how can we best respond to them without losing happiness and love? Epictetus gave an example that someone may put you in chains but he cannot force you to be miserable. He said we have that choice. Is that realistic?

Week 9

Can we love work?

Love and Work Khalil Gibran: Work is love made visible Alexander Solzhenitsyn: The rule of the last inch

Week 10

Wanting love: If you want to be loved, then love (Ficino)

What happens when we demand or require love? Does that work? What is our response when someone close to us is needy for love? Love and wise law (or boundaries)

Dublin 4

Engineers Ireland, 22 Clyde Road, Dublin 4


The Malone Hotel, 60 Eglantine Avenue, Malone Road, Belfast


18 Anglesea St, Cork


St. Columb's Park House, Limavady Road, Derry


The great National South Court Hotel, Raheen Gardens, Raheen

Townley Hall

Townley Hall Main House, Slane Road, Drogheda

Ongoing Learning

Part 04, Practical Philosophy:


The love, happiness, and intelligence, which are within everyone, are naturally available when the mind is truly present.

Learn More

Part 05, Practical Philosophy:


Freedom is the open window through which pours the sunlight of the human spirit and human dignity.

Learn More

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