Unlimited Love

Altruism, Compassion, and Service

Stephen G. Post

What if we could prove that love heals mental illness and is vital to successful therapeutic outcomes in all areas of health care? What if we could prove that people who live more for others than for self have greater psychological well-being?

In Unlimited Love, Post examines the question of what we mean by "unlimited love"; his focus is not on "falling" into love, which is "altogether natural, easy, and delusional." Rather, he focuses on the difficult learned ascent that "begins with insight into the need for tolerance of ubiquitous imperfection, and matures into unselfish concern, gratitude, and compassion." He considers social scientific and evolutionary perspectives on human altruistic motivations, and he analyzes these perspectives in a wide interdisciplinary context at the interface of science, ethics, and religion.

In Unlimited Love, Stephen Post presents an argument for the creation of a new interdisciplinary field for the study of love and unlimited love, "engaging great minds and hoping to shape the human future away from endless acrimony, hatred, and violence."

Preface / vii

Introduction: Progress Through Love / 1 

Part I: What Is Unlimited Love? / 

1. Unlimited Love and Ultimate Reality / 11 

2. The Measure of Unlimited Love in the Work of Sorokin / 25

3. The Core Meaning of “Love” / 41 

Part II: Scientific, Ethical, and Religious Perspectives / 55 

4. Love and the Social Science of Altruistic Motivations / 57

5. The Evolution of Altruistic Love / 75

6. The Parental Axis and the Origins of Love /  89

7. A Theological Interlude on Parental and Unlimited Love / 101

8. A Christian Ethical Perspective on Love’s Extensivity / 117

9. Five Dimensions of Unlimited Love in Practical and Theological Context / 133

Part III: Developing a Scientific Field / 157

10. The Scientific Field of Unlimited Love / 159

11. Funded Research Projects: 2003–2005 / 177

Notes / 203

Index / 223