Public Lecture 1

Sunday, 21 May 2017, at 6.30-7.30 pm:
Stirling Court Hotel, University of Stirling
Professor Carrie Ichikawa Jenkins (University of British Columbia)
Knowing Our Own Hearts

A long-standing philosophical question, one of the central topics of the Knowledge Beyond Natural Science project, is: how do we know our own minds? We seem to have special, “privileged” access to our own minds that we don’t have to anyone else’s. Do we have this same kind of access to our own hearts—for example, to whether, when, and with whom we are “in love?” Might it actually be easier to say when someone else is in love than to answer the same question about oneself? And what do we take to be evidence of love in ourselves, as opposed to in other people—do we look for the same signs?

In my book What Love Is And What It Could Be, I defend a “dual-nature” theory of romantic love, arguing that it is in part a social construct. This complicates the issue of self-knowledge. The social construction of romantic love includes social approbation of favoured forms of love, and policing of disfavoured forms. This can impact the question of who is in love with whom in at least two ways (one causal and one constitutive).

Methodologically, however, studies of love have relied heavily on self-reporting. There are various pitfalls with this (e.g. calibration difficulties and the possibility of inaccurate reports due to cognitive bias, dishonesty, poor memory, confabulation etc.). In this talk I want to bring an additional issue into view: ultimately, understanding what it means to be “in love” involves understanding our complex relationships with the social world around us.

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