Get access

The Presence of Love in Ethical Caring


  • Maria Arman, RNM, PhD, is a Senior Lecturer, Department of Nursing, Karolinska Institute, Huddinge, Sweden, Arne Rehnsfeldt, RN, PhD, is an Associate Professor, Faculty of Health, University of Linköping, Norrköping, Sweden.

Author contact:, with a copy to the Editor:


Caring as a virtue and an act of ethics is from both a natural and a professional point of view inseparably related to love as a universal/ontological value. Love is shown, like suffering and death, to be a concept of universal or metacharacter. From current nursing/caring science as well as from ethical and philosophical perspectives, this paper explores how love can be visible in caring through virtue and that the art of caring creates its evidence. The ethical and existential practicing of love, particularly unselfish love, allows a caregiver to come distinctly closer to the essence of his or her own personality and to live in a more authentic manner. Obstacles and alienation in caregivers that induce a holding back of one's own natural impulses to give the suffering patient tender, dignified care are examined. Economy, paradigm, and caring culture are cited, but ultimately it is a question concerning every caregiver's decision and responsibility to come forward to serve those the caregiver is actually there to represent, the suffering patient. This does not always require new knowledge, rather, liberation of the inner life and authenticity in caregivers. Love, if viewed only as a phenomenon without connection to a universal or ontological philosophy, risks being a problematic concept for caring science. If, on the other hand, it is viewed as the ontological basis for caring and ethical acts, then we can look for and practice phenomenological expressions for love that can enhance the patient's understanding of life as well as giving relief from suffering.