Plutarch's Table

Love and Monogamy – Thanks for coming out!

March 31, 2014
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A huge thanks to all who came out for the Love and Monogamy salon. Between our wonderful guest speaker and highly engaged participants, I think it was a fun and stimulating event. I know it gave me a lot to think about, in terms of being more open to questioning the conventions and habits of monogamy that we take for granted.

I know some guests were interested in reading some of the books that were mentioned, so I’ve put together a bibliography of all the titles I can think of, as well as some references from Ronnie’s book that may not have been mentioned but that sound really interesting.

Also, as always I welcome feedback. I am still unsure about the format of the salons that I host myself  – should we have a full buffet-style dinner (which would be more expensive), or a Sunday afternoon wine and cheese (which would be a little cheaper). What are people generally willing to pay? I don’t want cost to be prohibitive, but I also like it to be enjoyable in the food and drink department. Are weekends best or would a weekday after work be more convenient? So comments and suggestions are welcome, in this and any other aspect of the set-up. I’m also always looking for good topics, so suggestions for that are welcome.


Here are the books:

Easton and Hardy. The Ethical Slut: A Practical Guide to Polyamory, Open Relationships and Other Adventures.

Kipnis, Laura. Against Love (which I think should really be called against marriage, or perhaps against cohabitation…)

Perel, Esther. Mating in Captivity (an excellent book that questions monogamy somewhat but is focused on long-term relationships)

Sternberg, Robert. various articles, though he has a book called The New Psychology of Love.

Kolodny, Niko. various articles (google “Love as Valuing a Relationship”)

Mitchell, Stephen. Can Love Last? The Fate of Romance over Time.

Kabat-Zinn, Jon. Full Catastrophe Living (not entirely on topic, but it was mentioned in the context of learning to be more comfortable with insecurity)


– and of course look for Ronald de Sousa’s forthcoming book Love: A Vert Short Introduction (a fascinating philosophical look at love – the discussion of polyamory is only a small part of it).

* most of these are written by psychologists rather than philosophers, with the exception, I think, of Kolodny. But the nature of our topic seems to have taken us into this territory! If you want more philosophical accounts (besides Ronnie’s book and Plato’s Symposium, of course), email me for suggestions. And if you know of any good books I’ve missed, feel free to let me know and I’ll add them.





March 29th Salon sold out

March 19, 2014
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Thanks everyone for booking your tickets early for the upcoming salon on Love and Monogamy with Ronnie de Sousa. As I read through professor de Sousa’s latest book, I see that this is going to be really interesting. I was a little worried that the topic of love might be hard to approach philosophically, just because we can all say so much about love that doesn’t even begin to approach a philosophical analysis. I also worried that the topic of monogamy might be too controversial – in the sense that when there are clear ‘for and against’ positions for which people have fairly passionate attachments, the discussion becomes polarized instead of investigatory. I find salons work best when the topic is both familiar and yet puzzling enough that we aren’t too attached to our instinctive views about it.

But after reading and getting an idea of what our speaker has to say on this issue, I see that his talk will force us to think very carefully about our preconceived notions, and will give us some perhaps unexpected perspectives from which to reconsider and explore these issues. And this is ideal – my purpose with these salons is precisely to take topics that really matter to us on a daily basis and explore them as deeply and as carefully as we can. So I am very much looking forward to this evening, and I can’t wait to see you all there.


March Salon: Love and Monogamy

March 7, 2014
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I’m very pleased to announce our next salon, on the topic of Love and Monogamy. We’ve been talking about doing this one for a while now, and we’ll have the great pleasure of welcoming a guest speaker, Professor Ronald de Sousa of the University of Toronto, who has just written a book on Love (forthcoming). We also have a fabulous venue, and the evening promises to be interesting, enlightening, and likely controversial (one can only hope). All the details are below on the invite – make sure to reserve soon as there are only twenty spots at this one.


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About author

My name is Joanna Polley. I am a writer and a philosopher experimenting with ways of practicing and teaching philosophy outside of the university environment. I completed my PhD at the University of Toronto and have taught for several years in the departments of philosophy and literary studies, and am currently exploring ways to bring philosophy out of the ivory tower and into the wider public sphere. My specific research interests have been in the history of philosophy, philosophy of language and culture and the philosophy of literature, but I am interested in any philosophy that helps illuminate contemporary problems and deepens our experience of being alive. You can also visit me at for information about my philosophical therapy services.