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The Concept of Love and Sacrifice in the History of Philosophy


Admission requirements

BA degree in Philosophy or equivalent.


This course is about love, but more specifically it is a study about the different ways in which philosophers have approached the concept or the problem of ‘love’. There are four main parts structuring the course. The first part begins with a close reading of Plato’s Symposium. Students are then able to analyze the importance of the Platonic ideal in later texts from the English and Italian Renaissance (Dante, Petrarca). The second part of the course focuses on the Enlightenment ideals underlying the French Revolution (Rousseau, Marquis de Sade and Kant). These positions will be contrasted and questioned in the third part, with extracts and articles from authors such as Simone de Beauvoir, Freud, Adorno, Foucault and Barthes. Some of the problems that will be questioned involve the importance and tension between reality and fiction (or narrative). Finally, in the fourth part, students are invited to see how the very difficulty of conceptualizing ‘love’ has made it a key-concept in the construction of philosophical theories, such as is the case of Schelling.

Course objectives

Course objectives will be posted on Blackboard by the start of the course.


See Collegeroosters Wijsbegeerte 2013-2014 , MA Philosophy 60 EC en 120 EC.
See Timetables Philosophy 2013-2014 , Timetables MA Philosophy 60 EC/120 EC.

Mode of instruction

  • Lectures (2 hrs) and seminars (1 hrs)

  • One excursion to exhibition if possible.

Course load

Attending classes: 14 × 3 = 42 hrs
Preparation and assignments: 14 × 4 = 56 hrs
Class presentation (incl preparation): 7 hrs
Midterm literature study: 15 hrs
Final paper (incl. research / reading): 160 hrs
Total course load: 280 hrs.

Assessment method

  • Assignments to prepare for weekly seminars (10%)

  • Class presentation (10%)

  • Mid-term take home assignment: to read and answer questions on set texts (20%)

  • Final paper (60%)


Blackboard will be used for posting of announcements, instructions, weekly assignments and lecture material.

Reading list

  • Plato, Symposium.

  • Other texts will be made available.


Please register for this course on uSis.
See Inschrijven voor cursussen en tentamens
See Registration for courses and examinations

Study Abroad students, please see the Study in Leiden website for information on how to apply. See also Registration for courses and examinations

Registration Studeren à la carte and Contractonderwijs

Not applicable.