“Contemporary American debates on Christian love have frequently taken Anders Nygren’s distinction between eros and agape as their point of departure. And Nygren’s contrast between a need-based and desire-based, egocentric, acquisitive eros and a spontaneous and unconditional, theo centric, self-giving and self-sacrificial agape was equally influential in Sweden and Germany.
“However, in France contemporary debates on Christian love were primarily inspired by Pierre Rousselot’s even earlier distinction between the physical and ecstatic conceptions of love as presented in his work The Problem of Love in the Middle Ages: A Historical Contribution. [Pour l’histoire du problème de l’amour au Moyen Age]. Moreover, as will be seen later, it is arguable that Rousselot’s distinction between the physical and ecstatic conceptions of love is better and more refined than Nygren’s similar distinction between eros and agape, and, for what its worth, allows for a view of love favored by contemporary philosophers. Regrettably, this important work of Rousselot’s has received only a modest amount of attention in the English-speaking world due to the absence of a translation. The present translation of Rousselot’s great work on medieval theories of love hopes to address that situation.” — From the translator’s Introduction
Alan Vincelette is assistant professor of philosophy at St. John's Seminary, Archdiocese of Los Angeles. He has contributed articles to Grayling, A.C., ed., Encyclopedia of British Philosophy (Bristol: Thoemmes Continuum, 2006); Oord, Thomas Jay, ed., The Many Facets of Love (Angerton Gardens: Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2007); Kornberg Greenberg, Yudit, ed., Encyclopedia of Love in World Religions (Santa Barbara: ABC-CLIO, 2008). He is the author of volume 58 in this serie: Recent Catholic Philosophy The Nineteenth Century (ISBN 13: 978-087462-756-5).