Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Conditions of Love: The Philosophy of Intimacy” as Want to Read:
Conditions of Love: The Philosophy of Intimacy
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Conditions of Love: The Philosophy of Intimacy

3.92  ·  Rating details ·  499 ratings  ·  48 reviews
‘What is it to love another person?’ This is to raise one of the deepest, and most puzzling, questions we can put to ourselves. Love is a central theme in the autobiography we each write as we try to understand our lives; but we may feel that we become only more confused the more we reflect upon it. Love is closely connected with our vision of happiness; yet there is no on ...more
Hardcover, 176 pages
Published April 17th 2003 by W. W. Norton Company (first published 2002)
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Conditions of Love, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Conditions of Love

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 3.92  · 
Rating details
 ·  499 ratings  ·  48 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of Conditions of Love: The Philosophy of Intimacy
Apr 26, 2010 rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed this book. I've been giving a lot of thinking to love lately -- lust, romance, infatuation, sexuality, marriage, long-term relationships, etc. -- and this really helped guide my mind.

Much of it was things I had already thought about and considered, but as the book goes on it touches upon many of my questions and provides new thoughts and opinions. I loved the various quotes from literature, most of it which I had never read. This book has truly made me feel differently, both sad
♥ Ibrahim ♥
Sep 17, 2014 rated it did not like it
Shelves: relationships
The book is supposedly a philosophical study of the anatomy of love. The author sees romantic love as relatively short-lived. It may last in its full brightness, for a few days, weeks or months (p. 5). Here I disagree because romantic love can last a whole lifetime if we want to, provided we water it and give it proper TLC. And who is to say that we get our lessons of love from fiction stories such as Goethe's The Sorrows of the Young Werther and others? Writers have their own biases, melancholi ...more
Feb 26, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: the madly in love
Recommended to Wayne by: my own madness
I dreamed of a book like this when I was profoundly infatuated with someone I knew was totally, entirely and profoundly NOT IT!!!!

"Knowing" just takes a fair while to conquer Infatuation.

So when I DID discover that this book of my dreams HAD been written I took my medicine with a certain amount of Rapture.
Now, rapturously FREE AT LAST, I recommend it as ONE GREAT READ!!!!
Feb 12, 2013 rated it really liked it
Really, its all said by other reviewers- this is a wise, reflective little book with some gently presented facts of life and observations on humanity, which when assembled as cogently and intelligently as here, point the way to happiness and fulfilment, if only we can take it into our hearts. A love lesson, and one from which we can all find benefit.
Richard Hall
May 24, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Anyone utterly infatuated with someone entirely unsuitable should read this.
Jamie Peixin
Jun 11, 2013 rated it really liked it
re-reading this book more than 4 years later sure make a difference. A good book to always turn to when you need to re-think, clarify and question yourself on the various conditions of love.
Kiera Lucy
Feb 20, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I really enjoyed this book - loved the multilayered exploration of ‘what love is’ and there were some very thought-provoking moments throughout. Would recommend!
Jekaterina Drozdovica
Jun 15, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: favorites
This book attempts to understand the human condition of love. It looks at the concept of love from two general standpoints: love as an individual internal experience, and love as a reflection of human history. The book explores what motivates us to love, what constitutes love, how is love connected with sexuality and how has love evolved. The case studies are drawn from fiction and poetry, bringing the voices of Goethe, Dante, Schiller, Tolstoy, and many more into play. Love, as a concept, is fi ...more
Oct 01, 2017 rated it liked it
An interesting read but it's philosophy so takes a bit of effort to really digest the text. Takes a lot of romantic thinkings about love and tries to explain them in logical, even anthropological terms. ...more
Andrew Oda
Jul 30, 2016 added it
Shelves: favorites
incredibly good. I finished it in two days and already thought about re-reading it.
Jul 25, 2020 rated it really liked it

I learned a lot from this book. It's grounded, and offers reasonable explanations and realistic expectations for the course of intimidate relationships. Like how new love looks really different from established love. Or how big of a role imagination plays in our loving another person, and the eventual and normal disappointment that comes from this.

It was also thought provoking - for example, how looking for a 'perfect' partner can be a well disguised excuse to avoid the highs and lows of inti
Kukkik W
Aug 05, 2017 rated it really liked it
Read this book whether you're in love, heartbroken or indifferent. It will give you a new insight on love, and maybe even change your perspective on what it is to love.

I think a good book tells you what you already know. Of course a good book has new ideas to offer, but what makes it truly good is that it brings out ideas you were unaware you already had. It puts your thoughts to paper.

This book was a reminder of what I knew from (my inexperienced) 20 years of loving: from the naive thought th
Grace King
Jan 19, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Irina Cebanu
Jun 23, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: favorites
A book to read and re-read. My phone is full of shots of pages from this book that I'll revise once stumbling upon difficulties in a relationship.
Whereas I always relied on my internal reasoning and monologues to discover some truths on this topic, reading others' ideas is more helpful. And I'm glad I gave this book the time to sit in, it shouldn't be read in a gulp.
Daniel Ward
Oct 01, 2020 rated it really liked it
A good book on such a complex subject and a valiant attempt to try and rationalise and explain such an irrational and unexplainable human emotion. It won't necessarily give you advice on love rather it will explain why you and everyone else suck at it - which is soothing in a way. ...more
May 17, 2017 rated it it was amazing
One of the most impactful books I have ever read. Challenged me to think deeply and critically about the true nature of love.
Sep 08, 2019 rated it really liked it
Reflection provoking set of essays with rather strong romantic rooting. Definitely worth reading
Jan 03, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Short and interesting. Loved how he used literature as his examples.
Jan 18, 2016 rated it it was amazing
The books one would veer towards, or consider great, depends quite a bit on the life circumstance they are in currently.

For me now, it will be love.

Why do we love?
Who do we love?
How do we love?
What. Is. Love?

Philosophy provides reason and anchor to many of my floating thoughts and perspectives. I love poring through the beautiful, reflective and analytical prose of John Armstrong, one of the latest modern-day philosopher whom I now enjoy studying his works. Conditions of Love is not such an
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Nov 10, 2013 rated it really liked it
This is not a self-help book; and thank goodness it is so. Written with an elegant academic style, this slim book ruminates the many facets of "love" -- the name for a wide range of feelings and emotions, instincts and conducts. It has moments of pure lyricism as well as some pedantic observations. On the whole, it is a pleasant but not provocative read.
Wan-Ling, Wong
I had read this some time back. Before I had the chance to even fall in love with anyone, ever.

A friend alerted me to this book again. I believe the book is due for a revisit...

Keep reading. Will be back with some brand new insights and revelations.
Dec 14, 2008 rated it liked it
I am presently reading this book. From what i have read already Armstrong has done a great job in answering much in the development of Love along with " the what happens betwenn two people that come together and this emotion, this feeling this..... happens" ...more
Clear, matter of fact, with reference to writers and other figures from the past on the same subject -- well-written. Clear-eyed, realistic andyet somehow ending on a note of hope for humankind and their muddled longings after all is said and done.
Apr 29, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Conditions of love! That is a really big question! I found the answers in this book. It's very uplifting, very realistic. From Plato, Stendhal, Tolstoj to Freud and into every day life. Very elegant! ...more
Mar 30, 2008 rated it really liked it
An exquisite philosophical inquiry into the many dimensions of love and intimacy in relationships.
Sep 10, 2008 rated it liked it
Interesting review from a more measured/philosophical point of view. Nothing earth shattering, but I did find a number of points that were either of interest or help clarified ideas I already had.
May 29, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction, romance
There is a lot to think about in this little book, I really enjoyed re-reading it. I feel I got more from it the second time around, will definitely read again.
Apr 18, 2016 marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
I registered a book at!
Michael Condran
Jun 08, 2019 rated it it was ok
Nope. Not a philosophy of intimacy. Not on love. The author does provide a well crafted view on romantic love but fails to grasp the larger picture.
« previous 1 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »

Readers also enjoyed

  • The Art of Travel
  • Art as Therapy
  • Lessons in Stoicism: What Ancient Philosophers Teach Us about How to Live
  • Discourses and Selected Writings
  • Luster
  • شکوفه‌های عناب
  • Boundaries for Your Soul: How to Turn Your Overwhelming Thoughts and Feelings into Your Greatest Allies
  • No Longer a Slumdog: Bringing Hope to Children in Crisis
  • The Bhagavad Gita
  • How Proust Can Change Your Life
  • Abraham: A Journey to the Heart of Three Faiths
  • Who We're Reading When We're Reading Murakami
  • Burnt Sugar
  • How to Survive as a Psychotherapist
  • The Owl Service
  • One Two Three Four: The Beatles in Time
  • On Kindness
  • The Weirdstone of Brisingamen (Tales of Alderley, #1)
See similar books…
John Armstrong is a British philosopher living in Melbourne, Australia. He was born 1966 in Glasgow and worked as a research fellow at the University of London. Armstrong works currently as the Philosopher-in-Residence at the Melbourne Business School at the Melbourne University. He is author of several books on philosophical themes.

News & Interviews

  If you listen to NPR regularly, you’ve likely heard the voice of Shankar Vedantam, the longtime science correspondent and host of the radio...
13 likes · 2 comments
“Imagination paints a charming view of the future, conveniently adapted to the demands of our current emotion.” 12 likes
“A relationship does not start the day two people meet; it starts in the childhood of each partner. For it is long before they meet that the template of their relationship is established.” 9 likes
More quotes…