, Volume 58, Issue 3, pp 493–509 | Cite as

Loving Yourself as Your Neighbor: a Critique and Some Friendly Suggestions for Eleonore Stump’s Neo-Thomistic Account of Love

  • Jordan WesslingEmail author


Many Christian theorists notice that love should contain, in additional to benevolence, some kind of interpersonal or unitive component. The difficulty comes in trying to provide an account of this unitive component that is sufficiently interpersonal in other-love and yet is also compatible with self-love. Eleonore Stump is one of the few Christian theorists who directly addresses this issue. Building upon the work of Thomas Aquinas, Stump argues that love is constituted by two desires: the desire for an individual’s good and the desire to be united to that individual. Stump further develops the desire for union within this Thomistic understanding of love, and she maintains that her developed account not only captures the robustly interpersonal nature of one’s love of another but is also compatible with the love of oneself. Unfortunately, Stump’s way of making sense of this latter claim introduces a significant inconsistency in her analyses of the desire for union in self-love and other-love. Nevertheless, the most important features of Stump’s Neo-Thomistic account are salvageable. For there is a way of understanding love’s desire for union that emerges out of Thomas’s views on love and is compatible with the desiderata suggested by Stump, only does not have the same difficulties that beset Stump’s account. What is offered, then, is a modification of Stump’s account that might better serve her purposes. The resulting view of love, however, is one not only relevant to Stump. Rather, the view that emerges is a broadly Thomistic conception of love that is plausible in its own right and captures a certain biblical emphasis on the relational or interpersonal nature of love.


Nature of Christian Love Eleonore Stump Thomas Aquinas Self-love 


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Fuller Theological SeminaryPasadenaUSA

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