Ethical Theory and Moral Practice

, Volume 17, Issue 5, pp 987–1000 | Cite as

The Twofold Task of Union

  • Alexander JechEmail author


Love is practical, having to do with how we live our lives, and a central aspect of its practical orientation is the wish for union. Union is often considered in two forms—as a union of affections and as union in relationship. This paper considers both sorts of union and argues for their connection. I first discuss the union of interests in terms of the idea of attentive awareness that is focused upon the beloved individual and his or her concerns, life, and history. I then discuss union in relationship and show how this emerges from the attentive awareness in a desire to specify a determinate way of responding to the concerns that attentive awareness opens us to. I use the example of Jane Austen’s Emma throughout; the conduct of Austen’s heroine, who fails badly at loving well, shows by means of anti-example what is at stake in pursuing union as well as illustrating the close connection between the two aspects of union.


Love Action Practical reason Rationality Relationship Murdoch 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PhilosophyUniversity of North Carolina at Chapel HillChapel HillUSA

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