Busy few days. I’ve been juggling preparing to return to Oxford, reviewing papers for the forthcoming Graduate Philosophy Conference, setting up the infrastructure for an ethical eating outreach campaign next term, researching concerns about the bio-availability of micronutrients in fortified food for Giving What We Can (more soon), and trying to plough on with the reading for my second essay on Hume and the paradox of tragedy! On that last note, though, this quote from a paper by Margaret Paton struck me as a touch nuts:
When Hume states that love is unable to subsist in its full force without the painful passion of jealousy and conversely that too much jealousy will extinguish love, he is not describing a pattern of behaviour but is rather making conceptual points. A certain degree of jealousy is appropriate in the context of romantic love. If a young man were wholly indifferent about his girl-friend’s friendships with other young men, we should hesitate to say that he was in love.
I acknowledge that polyamorous people are statistically rare, and so the phenomenon is unusual. But there’s a much stronger claim being made here: that it’s impossible, premised on a conceptual contradiction and misunderstanding of the meaning of love. And that seems very bold. There will, after all, be polyamorous people who claim not that they learn to tolerate jealousy, but that it ceases to be felt at all. Some people do truly deny that love entails exclusivity, and indeed, that part of loving someone is to manage to be glad for one’s partner if they find further people that fulfil them. If that’s true, then jealousy isn’t love’s bedfellow. It would be love’s enemy.