Carrie Jenkins, "What Love is: And What it Could Be" (Basic Books, 2017)


Carrie Jenkins' new book is a model for what public philosophy can be. Beautifully written, thoughtful, and compellingly and carefully argued, What Love Is: And What it Could Be (Basic Books, 2017) invites us to think openly and critically about romantic love: what it is, what it could be, and why it is crucial for us to ask these questions and come to our own answers. Engaging the work of bell hooks, Bertrand Russell, Simone de Beauvoir, and more, Jenkins argues that love has a dual nature both social and biological and the book develops that position while offering a critical perspective on the arguments and evidence proposed by scientists, philosophers, and other interlocutors on whose work Jenkins builds. Romantic love is in the process of changing, suggests Jenkins, and the norm of monogamy could be one of the features in flux. The work offers a critique of amatonormativity including the assumed norm of monogamous dyads as the basis of romantic relationships while leaving readers with a take-home message that is simultaneously generous, bold, and inspiring: think about love for yourself.

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