The aesthetics of coming to know someone

James H. P. Lewis*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

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This paper is about the similarity between the appreciation of a piece of art, such as a cherished music album, and the loving appreciation of a person whom one knows well. In philosophical discussion about the rationality of love, the Qualities View (QV) says that love can be justified by reference to the qualities of the beloved. I argue that the oft-rehearsed trading-up objection fails to undermine the QV. The problems typically identified by the objection arise from the idea that love-worthy qualities could be coarse-grained, when in fact they must be fine-grained. The analogy with appreciation of aesthetic qualities helps to draw out this point. Once the fine-grained nature of love-worthy qualities is properly understood, it is clear that critics of the QV cannot rely on the trading-up objection to motivate its rejection. Moreover, the paper’s core argument helps to illuminate the persistently aesthetic nature of interpersonal affections.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1675-1690
Number of pages16
JournalPhilosophical Studies
Issue number5-6
Early online date13 Mar 2023
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2023


  • Appreciation
  • Aesthetics
  • Reasons
  • Qualities view
  • Love


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