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How to Flourish: Love and Intimacy

April 19, 2023 at 6:00 pm - 8:00 pm PDT

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What is love, and how can we better understand and practice it? In the fourth salon of a nine-part series on human flourishing, join host Ashley Zhang to discuss how great thinkers across cultures and centuries have conceived of love, and how to apply their ideas to our lives today.

“Love is at first not anything that means merging, giving over, and uniting with another (for what would a union be of something unclarified and unfinished, still subordinate—?), it is a high inducement to the individual to ripen, to become something in himself, to become world, to become world for himself for another’s sake, it is great exacting claim upon him, something that chooses him out and calls him to vast things.”

― Rainer Maria Rilke, Letters to a Young Poet

“For one human being to love another,” Rilke wrote, “is perhaps the most difficult of all our tasks.” Although love is a universal experience, it remains largely mysterious to us. Is love a feeling, or a practice? If the latter, how can we become better at giving and receiving it? Can love truly be unconditional? What are the different flavors of love we taste in our lifetime? How are we shaped by love, and how does it evolve with us? And how, amidst it all, do we submit to the “mortifying ordeal of being known”?

Whether you’re a hopeless romantic or a skeptic, besotted or heartbroken, join us to discuss the great universal questions of love and intimacy. 

Recommended reading

(no need to read them all, just skim whatever piques your curiosity)

Short pieces: 

Plato’s Other Half | Lapham’s Quarterly

Breaking Points, by Agnes Callard

Plato’s Ladder of Love in the Symposium

A Bond Between Two People by Rainer Maria Rilke 

Love Is Not a Permanent State of Enthusiasm: An Interview with Esther Perel | The New Yorker


Longer pieces:

The Art of Loving by Erich Fromm (summary

The Four Loves by C.S. Lewis (summary)

Ovid’s Ars Amatoria (The Art of Love)

Eros | Lapham’s Quarterly


Audio and video:

Alain de Botton — The True Hard Work of Love and Relationships | The On Being Project

‘Defend love as a real, risky adventure’ – philosopher Alain Badiou on modern romance | Aeon Videos


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April 19, 2023
6:00 pm - 8:00 pm PDT
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