Thursday, July 13, 2017

Love and happiness

Could perfect happiness consist of perfect love?

Here’s a line of argument that it couldn’t. Constitutively central to love are the desire for the beloved’s good and for union with the beloved. A love is no less perfect when its constitutive desires are unfulfilled. But perfect happiness surely cannot be even partly constituted by unfulfilled desires. If perfect happiness consistent of perfect love, then one could have a perfect happiness constituted at least partly by unfulfilled desires.

When this argument first occurred to me a couple of hours ago, I thought it settled the question. But it doesn’t quite. For there is a special case where a perfect love’s constitutive desires are always fulfilled, namely when the object of the love is necessarily in a perfectly good state, so that the desire for the beloved’s good is necessarily fulfilled, and when the union proper to the love is of such a sort that it exists whenever the love does. Both of these conditions might be thought to be satisfied when the object of love is God. Certainly, a desire for God’s good is always fulfilled. Moreover, although perfect love is compatible with imperfect union in the case of finite objects of love, perfect love of God may itself be a perfect union with God. If so, then our happiness could consist in perfect love for God.

I am not sure the response to the argument works but I am also not sure it doesn’t work. But at least, I think, my initial argument does establish this thesis:

  • If perfect happiness consists of perfect love, it consists of perfect love for God.

Of course none of the above poses any difficulty for someone who thinks that perfect happiness consists of fulfilled perfect love.

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