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Love: Common Good, Conceptual Beauty, Virtue

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Jetsun Jamphel Ngawang Lobsang Yeshe Tenzin Gyatso, reverently known as the 14th Dalai Lama, has a lot to say about love. 14th Dalai Lama is the most important monk of the Gelug School of Tibetan Buddhism. He has sought refuge in India ever since the Tibetan uprising of 1959. For him, the need of love comes from ‘inter-dependence’, which he believed that one of the most fundamental law of nature. According to 14th Dalai Lama (2002), inter-dependence also governs the most subtle level of material phenomena. It is because our own human existence depends so much on the help of others that at the very foundation of our existence lies our need for love. So, we need a genuine sense of responsibility and a sincere concern for other people’s welfare. For him, the greatest use of love is to love the world and everyone in it, no matter how many difficulties life throws at you. Despite his life’s hardships, he still strives to love everyone and encourages us to expand the circle of who we love. We also have to consider that we are not machine-made objects that can alleviate all of our sufferings and fulfill our needs. As stated by 14th Dalai Lama (2002), the expression of love is also very important at the time of birth. This is the first interaction of a child to their mother. It shows that child cannot survive without the care of others and love is its important nourishment. Love and affection should come first at the basic unity of our society which is family (Lama, 2002). After reading the book ‘Compassion and the Individual’, one thing seems clear to me, whether we are consciously aware of it or not, the need for human affection is in our very blood from the day we are born.

In Mother Teresa’s book entitled ‘Love: The Words and Inspiration of Mother Teresa’, she used her experiences to write about the true essence of her messages of peace, acceptance and love. According to Mother Teresa (2007), she heard the call to give up all and follow him into the slums to serve him. For her, the call to serve the poor was as much an indication of her humanity as of her love of God and others. The concept of common good for her is not focusing in herself instead being selfish or giving something, she has without anything in return to others. Mother Teresa’s concept of common good is for the sake of other people. This more suited her intentions of being humanity’s faceless servant than an individual known for her charity and good deeds. Her pragmatism and commitment to small actions devoted to individuals brought her increasingly into contact with other people who would like to help. Love cannot remain by itself – it has no meaning. Love has to be put into action, and that action is service (Mother Teresa, 2007). As what she said, it is obviously pertaining to love is being unselfish when it comes in serving God and other people.

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As eloquently stated by George Santayana (1986), who wrote the book entitled ‘The Sense of Beauty’, beauty is linked to pleasure and is fundamental to human purpose and experience. It does not originate from pleasurable experiences, by itself or from the objects that brings about pleasure (Santayana, 1896). It is when the pleasure experience and emotion intertwine with the object’s qualities that beauty emerges. He divided her book into four parts: ‘The Nature of Beauty’, which he rejects the notion of beauty as the symbol of divine perfection instead he redefined it with the perception of values. He explains that the experience of beauty cannot be derived from factual judgments, but only from value judgments. Santayana (1896) also derives the definition of beauty from what he calls “psychological phenomenon, the transformation of an element of sensation into the quality of a thing”. The next part of his book is ‘The Materials of Beauty’, where he claims that pleasures derived from all human functions might become objective and thus material of beauty, although it is most easily done in cases of vision, hearing, memory and imagination. The third is ‘Form’ (1896), Santayana turns to describe which experiences can lead to the experience of beauty and why or under which circumstances. In the beginning, form can be taken literally here, but it becomes synonymous with mental representations as the section proceeds. Lastly is the ‘Expression’ he defined the term expression as describing the qualities an object indirectly acquires through associations, e.g. with other concepts and memories. Santayana (1905) in the chapter ‘Love’ in his book entitled ‘The Life of Reason: The Reason in Society’ narrows down the term ‘love’ to imaginative passion, to being in love. The role of imagination in love is hugely important because if the lover is able to use his/her imagination to approach his/her love as if he/she is the ideal one. In other words, we do not love other people as such, but rather we love the ideal features they possess or seem to possess. For him, love is an appreciation of ideals, not a relationship between the loving persons. However, these ideals, are hardly ever fulfilled, hence love is hardly ever to be consumed in such a way as desire can be, especially sexual union. Santayana (1905) also focuses his love by reaching the perfection of one’s individual concept of beauty. He does not care about the particular individual but rather about the ideas and concept of beauty that the person we love embodies.

For Aristotle a virtuous person is someone who has ideal character traits. These characteristics are derived from natural internal tendencies, but need to be nurtured. However, they will become stable once it is established. In his ‘Nicomachean Ethics’, virtue is essential to pursuit of happiness. When it comes to love, he believed that self-love is a prerequisite to loving others. It may sound that he is promoting selfishness. He clarifies in ‘Nicomachean Ethics’ that self-love is an entirely proper emotion provided it is expressed in the love of virtue. As long as you love yourself, not just for the sake of loving yourself but for the benefit of others. Aristotle (1906) made it clear that if self – love led to the acquisition of goods such as wealth and power, it would be immoral because of the damage it would cause to the community. Aristotle (1906) uses the term ‘love’ interchangeably with ‘friendship’ because the English rendering of the Greek word, philia, can be translated into friendship or love. We see two important elements that comprise the Aristotelian view of love – self-love and doing good for the other’s sake and for no other reason. Common good explains that love is a selfless action. It is about the care for other people before yourself. In conceptual beauty, love comes from the idea of being beautiful in terms of personal experience, characteristics or trait, and physical appearance. We tend to love because we are reaching for perfection that we cannot achieved by ourselves. Lastly, virtue that will teach us that, self-love is important. That we should learn to love ourselves first in order for us to love others properly.

These ethical concepts are associated with each other. In my opinion, they all revolved in the standard of society. As we picture out what is the common good in terms of love in our society, it is more on giving ourselves to others and in conceptual beauty in our society, people tend to love based on the standards of beauty an example if a guy is not that physically attractive, they will look for a partner that contrast to him. In other others, he will seek for his partner’s perfection when it comes to physical appearance. As we all know that one of the important virtues in our society is love. Showing positive impact on the lives of others and genuine concern for the good of others with unselfish acts of kindness. For me, the relation of these ethical concepts with my chosen ethical subject which is love can be explained in one famous quotation, “no man is an island”. When it comes to love, we as a human being are necessarily depends on one another. As what I have discussed on the introduction about love, that our existence depends on the help of others and the need for love lies with them. We can say that I can be independent and be self-sufficient, but we can deny the fact that since we are born, we depend and receive the love of our mother and the basic unit of society which is family.


  1. Bojaxiu, A. (2007). Love: the words and inspiration of mother Teresa. Retrieved from:
  2. Gyatso, T. (2002). Compassion and the individual. Retrieved from:
  3. Peters, F. (1906). The nicomachean ethics of aristotle. Retrieved from:
  4. Santayana, G. (1905). The life reason. Retrieved from:
  5. Santayana, G. (1986). The sense of beauty. Retrieved from:

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Love: Common Good, Conceptual Beauty, Virtue. (2022, August 25). Edubirdie. Retrieved December 8, 2022, from
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