Season 1, Episode 1: Love-Crafting
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On how concepts relate to power:
- Epistemic Injustice: Power and the Ethics of Knowing by Miranda Fricker, especially chapter 7 ("Hermeneutical Injustice").
On links between agency/meaningful action and well-being:
- Man's Search For Meaning by Viktor Frankl.
- The concept of love-crafting is inspired by existing research on job-crafting: I recommend this video of Amy Wrzesniewski discussing her research on job-crafting and its connections to happiness, performance, and meaningfulness.
On love as intentional activity:
- All About Love: New Visions by bell hooks.
- The Art of Loving by Erich Fromm.
- The Road Less Travelled by M. Scott Peck.
On choosing our own adventures in love:
- What Love Is And What It Could Be by Carrie Jenkins, especially the Coda (“Make It So”).
Labels of Love logo designed by Jen Sung.
Show notes photography by Jonathan Ichikawa.
- "Labels of Love Jingle Music" by Carrie Jenkins. All rights reserved.
- "Surface Tension 3" by Podington Bear. Creative commons license.
- "Quizitive" by Lee Rosevere. Creative commons license.
- "Determination" by Borrtex. Creative commons license.
Labels of Love is a research creation outcome of the Metaphysics of Love Project, supported by The Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada. Additional financial support for the project comes from the Canada Research Chairs program and the University of British Columbia.
I am grateful for help, guidance, feedback, and support from:
Drusilla, Mandy Len Catron, Heather Neale Furneaux, Ray Hsu, Jonathan Ichikawa, Mezzo, Irem Kurtsal Steen, and Susannah Tysor.
[Speaking in this episode you can hear: Carrie Jenkins and Jonathan Ichikawa.]
Carrie: I just want to give a word to that, you know? I want to put a label on it.
Jonathan: You’re listening to Labels Of Love.
Carrie: Hi, and welcome to the podcast. I’m Carrie Jenkins, a philosophy professor at the University of British Columbia, and the author of What Love Is and What It Could Be. Each episode of Labels Of Love features a different concept and a different guest. By "concepts" I mean basic building blocks for thoughts. So think smaller than a hypothesis, or smaller than a question. You might be talking about something that is expressible in a single word, or in a couple of words.
Carrie: "Concave." "Government."
Carrie: "Empathy." And it's tempting to think sometimes that this means a concept can't do very much by itself. But that does not mean that they are harmless, or that they're powerless. Concepts can be loaded with all kinds of unexamined baggage and assumptions, they can be really confusing, they can be limiting or they can be empowering.
Carrie: "Consent." "Privilege."
Carrie: "Harassment." And it can be easy, as a kind of default, to end up using the same concepts are people around us, especially the powerful people around us. And those concepts might be ones that are working well within the status quo, but that doesn't mean that they can't be challenged. It doesn't even mean that they can't be changed. Sometimes this means trying to say things it almost isn't possible to say, or think things that it almost isn't possible to think. But I think that's just part of being a philosopher.
This podcast is going to be taking a closer look at concepts relating to love in particular. Some of the words that we use to express these concepts are very familiar, like "weddings" or "love stories." But what I'm interested in is everything that is packed in beneath and behind those very common labels. You know, in many cases there's all this ethical and often ideological significance, and that's where I want to dig in, and explore, and talk to other people about what's really going on. And I'm interested in bringing a lot of voices to the table. My research on love is interdisciplinary and it moves beyond academia for dialogue and for perspectives. This podcast is going to be engaged in that same project, and in that same mode of enquiry.
So for this first episode, I just wanted to start by introducing a concept that is really important for me, but I’ve only just recently found the right words to express it, and to explain it the way that I want to understand it. It’s the concept of love-crafting.
Part of the background here is that in my own life I live in unconventional love relationships: I'm a polyamorous writer and philosopher, and learning the concept of polyamory gave me a way of understanding myself that previously wasn't thinkable to me. I only had concepts like unfaithful or adulterous that impose negative judgements automatically. And so this is part of why I'm very interested in ways of thinking about love that open possibilities that previously we might not have noticed.
Love-crafting is ultimately just what it sounds like. It’s about crafting loving relationships that are tailored to the specific strengths and passions and interests and needs and desires of the people in the relationship. It is fundamentally a creative activity, and it’s about collaboration with other people. It’s about freedom, and it’s about expression. It’s about telling a true story that’s your own instead of trying to conform to someone else’s fairy tale. It’s about claiming agency, it’s about taking control. But it’s not just about you: it’s about whether the world is ready for you to make those kinds of decisions, and ready to respect them. We tend to be happier when we’re making decisions, but I don’t think it’s because we’re happier that it matters. I think it’s because it matters that we’re happier.
It can sound simple, but just using the concept of love-crafting enables us to make more visible the creativity, and the skill, and the practical significance of engaging love in this way. Other kinds of concepts that sometimes get used, like experimental or rebellious, they emphasize very, very different things, and they put a lot of people off, and I think that’s partly because they’re supposed to put a lot of people off. And anyway love-crafting doesn’t have to be experimental or rebellious. All it has to be is loving someone the way you do on purpose. I just want to give a word to that, you know, I want to put a label on it.
And that's it for this episode. Our wonderful podcast logo was designed by Jen Sung, and this episode has featured music by Podington Bear, Lee Rosevere, and Borrtex. More details and lots of information and links are available in the show notes, and you can find out more about my work at carriejenkins.net, or you can follow me on Twitter where I’m @carriejenkins. Thank you so much for listening.
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