Perspectives on Love: Monica Roland: "Love as Seeing: Iris Murdoch and David Velleman on the Nature of Love and Loving"

On April 19, Monica Roland (OsloMet) will give a presentation titled "Love as Seeing: Iris Murdoch and David Velleman on the Nature of Love and Loving". This is the fourth event in our digital lecture series Perspectives on Love, in which we explore different understandings of the concept of love.

Illustration: Private photo, Wikipedia, John Hopkins University.


We commonly assume a relation between love and vision both in ordinary language and philosophy. Take for instance the saying “Love makes blind”, which is often used to describe in particular (though not exclusively) romantic love and infatuation. The expression conveys the view that as a lover one is blind to the beloved’s flaws and imperfections and projects on to the beloved favorable features they might not in fact have. When one loves someone on this view, one is suffering from a kind of blurred vision. One does not see the beloved as they truly are, but rather a fantasy version. Freud is often thought to hold such a view of love.
However, an alternative and popular conception of love is that true love is everything but blind. On this view, loving someone is an instance of really looking; it makes you see the person behind the flaws. This popular view also has its equivalents in philosophy. Iris Murdoch, for instance, argues that “Love is knowledge of the individual” (1970, p. 27) and that in order to gain the required knowledge one has to really pay attention to the other and see the other for who they are. David Velleman draws on Murdoch’s philosophy and argues that love is “an arresting awareness of value in a person” (1999, p. 362) that makes one really see the other. On his view, love is a response to the other’s rational will and their value as ends in themselves. In this talk I will examine the tension between these views as well as present my own view of love as type of seeing.

Practical information

This digital event will be in English, and will consist of a 30 minute lecture, followed by 30 minutes of discussion. This event is free and open to the public. Please follow this link to register for the lecture:



The Zoom link will be sent to your registered email address prior to the event. NB: Please note that we will close the registration for this event at 1 pm CET on April 19. 

For inquiries about the lecture series, please send an email to Anna Young

Published Apr. 9, 2021 9:02 AM - Last modified Apr. 9, 2021 9:02 AM