confidence in what we cannot help being

According to Frankfurt, self-preservation is the “protean mode of concern” – the basis from which we make decisions. This self-preservation is “not itself grounded in reason, but love.” When Frankfurt talks about love here, he’s not referring to romance or lust or any of those common definitions, but rather to a “mode of caring” that is involuntary and not rationally determined. The object can be, among other things, a person, an ideal, a group.

So, because an individual is invested in this love, and because this love is non-utilitarian, it necessarily provides a basis for deciding what to care about. Frankfurt sees this in an evolutionary schema-it requires a “confidence in what we cannot help being.”

“It’s important to you to understand what’s important to you,” said Frankfurt.

[From “On college, bullshit and love” by Naimh Wallace]

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