Loving More, Being Less: Reflections on Vladimir Jankélévitch’s Le paradoxe de la morale


  • Jennifer Rosato Mount Saint Mary's University




Vladimir Jankélévitch, Le paradoxe de la morale, Love, Being, Ethics


In Le paradoxe de la morale, Vladimir Jankélévitch proposes that the moral life is a matter of balancing the demands of love, which call us to give without limit, and our natural, egoistical attachment to self, which he terms 'being'. This balancing act is ultimately paradoxical since love must both depend on and overcome being. The vision of moral life as a paradoxical balancing act of love and being, however, is implicitly challenged by another, "supernatural" vision of ethics that Jankélévitch proposes near the end of the text. In these passages, the egoism of being that marks human nature is not merely balanced but genuinely transformed by the passionate care for an other. In this paper, these two visions of the ethical life offered by Jankélévitch's text are discussed in turn, and a way to read them as complementary rather than contradictory is proposed.

Author Biography

Jennifer Rosato, Mount Saint Mary's University

Assistant Professor, Philosophy Department