Ten Philosophical Quotes on Love (With References)

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This page contains a collection of philosophical quotes on love, arranged in roughly chronological order. These quotes are all genuine and details about the author, book, chapter number, and translation are included where applicable. Quotes that begin with a section of bold text are my personal favourites. Without further ado, here are ten (real) quotes by philosophers on love:


Socrates: The soul of the lover will never forsake his beautiful one, whom he esteems above all; he has forgotten mother and brethren and companions, and he thinks nothing of the neglect and loss of his property; the rules and proprieties of life, on which he formerly prided himself, he now despises, and is ready to sleep like a servant, wherever he is allowed, as near as he can to his desired one, who is the object of his worship, and the physician who can alone assuage the greatness of his pain.

– Plato, Phaedrus, 252A, trans. Benjamin Jowett


It is pleasant to be loved, for this . . . makes a man see himself as the possessor of goodness, a thing that every being that has a feeling for it desires to possess: to be loved means to be valued for one’s own personal qualities.

– Aristotle, Rhetoric, 1371a18, trans. W. Rhys Roberts


Rosalind: Love is merely a madness; and, I tell you, deserves as well a dark house and a whip as madmen do; and the reason why they are not so punish’d and cured is that the lunacy is so ordinary that the whippers are in love too.

– William Shakespeare, As You Like It, III, ii, 420


There is no disguise which can long hide love where it exists, nor feign it where it does not.

– Duc de la Rochefoucauld, Maximes, 70, trans. Bund & Friswell


There are so many sorts of love that one does not know to whom to address oneself for a definition of it. The name of “love” is given boldly to a caprice lasting a few days, a sentiment without esteem, gallants’ affectations, a frigid habit, a romantic fantasy, relish followed by prompt disrelish: people give this name to a thousand chimeras.

– Voltaire, Philosophical Dictionary: Love, trans. Peter Gay


Whatever is done from love always occurs beyond good and evil.

– Friedrich Nietzsche, Beyond Good and Evil, IV, 153, trans. Walter Kaufmann


Love is something far more than desire for sexual intercourse; it is the principal means of escape from the loneliness which afflicts most men and women throughout the greater part of their lives.

– Bertrand Russell, Marriage and Morals, 9


To fear love is to fear life, and those who fear life are already three parts dead.

– Bertrand Russell, Marriage and Morals, 19


Of all forms of caution, caution in love is perhaps the most fatal to true happiness.

– Bertrand Russell, The Conquest of Happiness, 12


You know, it’s quite a job starting to love somebody. You have to have energy, generosity, blindness. There is even a moment, in the very beginning, when you have to jump across a precipice: if you think about it you don’t do it.

– Jean-Paul Sartre, Nausea, trans. Lloyd Alexander


Immature love says: ‘I love you because I need you.’ Mature love says: ‘I need you because I love you.’

– Erich Fromm, The Art of Loving, 2


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