A book on ethics and philosophy of values

(Note: this is a non-professional translation of the original text in French. Help improve this translation: please report any mistake!)


Now if we admit that love is the feeling which involves the attribution of a value to an object, something strange happens: we have just discovered something, and I do not know what to call it (a condition of love? A law of love?): “To love something, one must attribute a real value to it”, or again: “Do you want to love this? Attribute a value to it”.
This kind of imperative, neither hypothetical nor categorical, but ‘erotic’, in the sense that it falls within ‘eros’, is puzzling, because its status is unclear.

Firstly, we do not know if it is an imperative. The inference takes the following form: “X is Y. So for X, Y must be”. Here, the auxiliary verb ‘must’ does not imply that it is a matter of right, but only a matter of fact. It is used in a similar way than it would be used in a strange proposition like “man is rational. So man must be rational”. In reality, it is probably not an imperative, but a misleading reformulation of a fact under imperative terms.

Secondly, this idea “to love, one must attribute a value”, is not a law, coming from an external sphere, the legal right, in order to dictate and control love. It seems that it is a necessary consequence from the concept of love itself, needed for love to occur, what is completely different.
In fact, it is not a moral imperative, claiming to ‘discipline’ love, by means of the notions of right or duty, viz. it is not a ‘law of love’. But it is an absolutely necessary condition for the concept of love to have a meaning. When a content of meaning = X is included in the meaning of Y, it is necessary – I question here this kind of necessity- that X happens for Y: since love is the attribution of a value to the beloved object, it is absolutely necessary to attribute a value to the object that we claim to love, for our love to be a real one.

Finally, it is not a hypothetic imperative, determining the means to an end, since here, the relation between love and the attribution of value is not a relation between means and end, but an identity of essence: one does not attribute a value in order to love, but to attribute a value and to love are one and the same.