Beyond the Romantic constellation of sex, marriage and love

David West

Research output: A Conference proceeding or a Chapter in BookChapterpeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


The concept of romantic love is a complex concept which is, partly because of this complexity, both powerful and dangerous. Romanticism arose in Europe as a reaction to the one-dimensional rationalism of the Enlightenment. Although by no means exclusively atheistic or even deist, enlightenment thinkers tended to undermine religious conceptions of love and sexual morality. Love was either rehabilitated as something of essentially divine origin or posited as a distinct and irreducible metaphysical category. Jean-Jacques Rousseau was an important critic of Enlightenment rationalism and source of Romanticism. He berates the corruption of 'civilized' society and its casual libertinism. The transformative power of love raises the individual to the level of moral liberty by limiting the otherwise boundless sexual desires that express our natural liberty. Rousseau's Romantic philosophy is elaborated in his epistolary novel, Julie, or the New Eloise, in which he fleshes out a conception of romantic love that inspired a generation of writers and philosophers.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Radicalism of Romantic Love
Subtitle of host publicationCritical Perspectives
EditorsRenata Grossi, David West
Place of PublicationUnited Kingdom
Number of pages17
ISBN (Electronic)9781315553665
ISBN (Print)9781472459084
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2017

Publication series

NameThe Radicalism of Romantic Love: Critical Perspectives


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