What Is (This Thing Called) Love?

Friday, April 20, 2012 -- 5:00 PM

Many of us have been in love, and there have been countless great poems and popular songs written about it. So you’d think we’d all know what it is. Yet a lot of what has been written points to a deep mystery. So—as Cole Porter famously asked—what is this thing called love?

Love is often portrayed as a powerful force, something that can inspire greatness in the lover. Alternatively, it is something that can make the lover act like a fool. Love can be the greatest feeling in the world, but it can also be utterly devastating when it doesn’t work out. How many love songs are really about heartbreak over love lost? Listen to a few, and it’s a wonder we ever love at all.

Given these observations, we might be inclined to think that there’s a significant element of irrationality to love. But we should be careful here, as perhaps love can have reasons too. For example, if you have a significant other, you could probably list off a bunch of reasons for your love: your partner is kind, intelligent, funny, and so on. If you loved someone who was mean, stupid, and boring, that would be irrational. But, presumably, many of us have great reasons for loving who we love, which shows that sometimes love is actually quite rational.

It would be wise to pause, though, to consider whether or not we ever actually love for the reasons we give. Perhaps the truth is that we first find ourselves in love, and then come up with reasons to justify our feelings. Just because we can provide reasons for feeling the way we do about a particular person, it doesn’t follow that we see reasons for loving first, and then develop feelings based on those reasons. 

Think of it this way—falling in love because you’ve come up with a list of good reasons doesn’t sound very romantic. It sounds cold and calculating, not something we might even want to dignify with the label “love.” Moreover, it paints a picture that suggests we can rationally deliberate and decide who to love, but for most people, I’d bet that’s not how they actually experience love.

While this might not be how most people experience love, of course, it doesn’t follow that it’s not possible to fall in love for reasons. After all, what we consciously experience does not necessarily reveal the true underlying mechanisms at work. It would be surprising, for example, if the reasons you came up with for loving your significant other—the qualities that make this person so lovable—turned out to be completely irrelevant to your feelings.

Even if we don’t consciously decide to fall in love, it makes sense to think we respond to particular qualities we perceive in others, and we fall in love because of those qualities. That seems to suggest that love is at least potentially rational. However, we should also point out that even if we admit that love can have causes, and that a person’s particular qualities can explain why we love that person, it doesn’t follow that love is therefore rational. An avalanche has causes too, and those causes explain why the avalanche happens, but that doesn’t make an avalanche rational

So there’s a lot to talk about on this week’s show. What exactly is love? Why do we love? Can we decide whom to love? Is love ever rational? Would we be better off without it? 

Those are just some of the questions that come up when we’re talking about romantic love. I haven’t even mentioned any other kinds of love. We can love our friends, our children, our community, even our country. We can also talk about loving more abstract things, like justice, beauty, or wisdom, which raises even more issues. Is there something that all of these different kinds of love have in common? And which kinds of love are most essential to a well-lived life?

Comments (20)


Guest's picture

Guest

Saturday, April 21, 2012 -- 5:00 PM

It may be difficult to

It may be difficult to surpass the words of wisdom of Bertrand Russell on this topic: "Love at its fullest is an indissoluble combination of the two elements, delight and well-wishing. The pleasure of a parent in a beautiful and successful child combines both elements; so does sex-love at its best. But in sex-love benevolence will only exist where there is secure possession, since otherwise jealousy will destroy it, while perhaps actually increasing the delight in contemplation. Delight without well-wishing may be cruel; well-wishing without delight easily tends to become cold and a little superior. A person who wishes to be loved wishes to be the object of a love containing both elements ... (What I Believe, 1925).

mirugai's picture

mirugai

Saturday, April 21, 2012 -- 5:00 PM

GIVING LOVE

GIVING LOVE
1. Love of, and by, a person is distinguished from all other uses of the word ?love.?
2. There is bestowing love, and receiving love.
3. The power of love is felt by everyone, except almost by definition, the sociopath.
How is it ?felt?? As an awareness of the wonderful-ness that we have the ability - the blessed gift ? to give our love to another. We can only bask in the warmth of another?s love of us, because we know what love is as an awareness of something we possess to give.
Note: Philosophers should not get caught up in taxonomies of consciousness: trying to define and quantify the concepts: emotions, feelings, beliefs, intentions. When our hosts say love has all these qualities, they are just showing the hopelessness of this kind of taxonomic inquiry. Another example is using love to include as objects: sex, flowers, music, exercise, pancakes, etc. ?Consciousness? is the only term we need; forget ?science?; now, get on with philosophizing.
Ken?s ?Marriage is a theater of commitment,? born of love, maybe, but which survives its absence, is a very good definition in these days when marriage needs a definition. Excellent, Ken; thank you.

Guest's picture

Guest

Saturday, April 21, 2012 -- 5:00 PM

"Love is patient; love is

"Love is patient; love is kind; love is not envious or boastful or arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends" (1 Cor 13:4-8).
Love is a self-less rejoicing in the goodness of another, which goodness reflects truth. And this truth encompasses all aspects and modes of being of that other. Moreover, it seeks to bring about that goodness, to separate it from anything which hinders its manifestation, and share it; thus the end of love is a friendship or community of complete charity. Love does not seek reciprocality but must remain a fundamental act of giving. Yet true love, love which abides by all the traits above, always yields a friendship in which we might participate in the ultimate goodness and truth of life, viz. God, who is, as metaphysics states, pure life-giving act and the first cause of all being. God is love, essentially as existentially. This love is always rational, as it comes about from a rational being, the human being. It neither is attributed to either the intellect or the will alone, but a conformity of the will to the intellect, which recognizes the goodness and truth and which commands the will to desire. In this sense, we are generally attracted to good and true things, but we must also choose them and act upon them. But not all desires are love, nor is love simply a desire. This notion of love must be separated from lust, concupiscence, and lower forms of friendship (such as utility or circumstantial). True love is unconditional, rational, selfless, and romantic. True love is evoked because of the goodness and truth in being itself, which being is fundamentally an act (from biology to psychology) of self-giving (from cellular respiration to shared contemplation). True love is a participation in divine goodness and being.
The Holy Bible: New Revised Standard Version. 1989 (1 Co 13:4?8). Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers.

MJA's picture

MJA

Sunday, April 22, 2012 -- 5:00 PM

Love is the energy of truth

Love is the energy of truth
Light
True Love
=

Harold G. Neuman's picture

Harold G. Neuman

Monday, April 23, 2012 -- 5:00 PM

Love is preservation of the

Love is preservation of the species. Any species. At any level of consciousness. It is, what?---elemental to survival? I think so, but greater minds have said so. Love may be, in some degree, an extended phenotype, and if so, would support Dawkins' notion(s) regarding such. But, on reflection, love---whatever it is---probably existed before any extended phenotypes ever manifested themselves. This may be another chicken/egg kind of argument---but no, I think not. Is love the energy of truth? Is it light? I cannot say. But it seems essential. We are, after all, still here... Hmmmmph.

Guest's picture

Guest

Wednesday, April 25, 2012 -- 5:00 PM

I have always subscribed to

I have always subscribed to the idea that 'Love is a Verb'. Where does action fit in with intention, emotion, and cognition?

Guest's picture

Guest

Thursday, April 26, 2012 -- 5:00 PM

Very interesting comments.

Very interesting comments.
It seems Thomas S. has fallen victim to a horribly mangled translation of St. Paul (indeed, any appearance of the word "love" in the New Testament points to a mistranslation since the Greeks had no equivalent). Love depends on a proper balance between selfishness and unselfishness. Can anyone honestly say that they loved someone without wishing to be loved in return?
The connection between love and light is intriguing. Love and sunlight are essential for life and happiness, yet neither exists (just as a pile of rocks does not exist without the rocks). Sunlight has no identifying wavelength or frequency of vibration; however, each of its components does. For example, each color of the rainbow has its own measurable properties (although, while I was still in high school, the physicists were disputing whether indigo, between the blue and violet, is a color in the rainbow).

Guest's picture

Guest

Thursday, April 26, 2012 -- 5:00 PM

Michael is a dreamer; a

Michael is a dreamer; a hopeless romantic, I'd venture...Neuman is a cynic; scientific in approach, but a cynic nonetheless. But all is well. Because the world fosters and encourages both, without so much as a twitch. And this is how it must be, I think, because we are all equal parts cynic and hopeless romantic. I am intrigued by Neuman's reference to Dawkins' extended phenotype notion. The whole concept of extended phenotype is fascinating, if not brilliant. Dawkins tends to elicit these sorts of reactions from thinking people. And just so, then---love is just what it is. We learn it. Continue to learn it, ergo, it must be important. Is it important, yea, crucial, to the survival of species? It would seem so. Why else would we make such an ado over an emotional response?
Why, indeed... Maybe it IS in our genes, and if so, well then, why not? How on Earth did this all happen? Well...

Guest's picture

Guest

Friday, April 27, 2012 -- 5:00 PM

As Mirugai has aptly pointed

As Mirugai has aptly pointed out, taxonomy has its place(s). Biology is a good one. Philosophy? Not so much. Neuman's assessment might be best, to date. Much research on beings human and those not appears to substantiate the need for love. Or attention. Or, at least, interest. Living species that have survived (discounting the more simple life forms, of course) have required some variant of 'attentiveness' in order to prosper and continue to reproduce. I have read Dawkins, Wilson, Diamond, SJ Gould and many others. They all have their particular attributes as scientists and investigators. And, they all have their particular biases. And, you know, that is how we are.

Guest's picture

Guest

Saturday, April 28, 2012 -- 5:00 PM

Let's not forget the poets;

Let's not forget the poets; Shelley, for instance:
"All love is sweet,
Given or returned. Common as light is love,
And its familiar voice wearies not ever ...."

Guest's picture

Guest

Tuesday, May 1, 2012 -- 5:00 PM

B4 i even read this post, let

B4 i even read this post, let me say this. Yesterday i found myself asking myself this question after a lady told me that she really loved her abusive boyfriend and he loved her too. I wondered what that word for her meant. I believe that love is just a word like "good" or "bad". to everyone, it holds a different meaning. The ironical thins about her statement is that she has only known the guy for 1year(they met here in campus). In my struggle to understand the meaning of love, i found myself reasoning that love is just a word chosen to try and simply state the connection that you have with someone. I theorize(though without experimenting) that human beings are able to communicate by use o waves. By taping into natural energies with the unexposed power of our minds. As you live with a person and he/she continues doing good for you, you begin to freely let yourselves communicate. After a while, the bond you have with this person strengthens to a point where u might not be able to let it go. But i suppose that people react differently hence to others, this connection lasts a very long time and may not let anyone else replace that person even after loosing them. Its no different from the feeling you get after seeing a beautiful tree which has been outside your home for years cut down.

Guest's picture

Guest

Tuesday, May 1, 2012 -- 5:00 PM

Fascinating. As with earlier

Fascinating. As with earlier posts, this one concerning love has generated many ideas and opinions---some no doubt based on experience(s); others, based on psychological and/or sociological theory about why we do what we do. I do not know PG (at least I don't think I know him...) But, I do recall such a tree. Several of them, in fact.
Probably a phenotypical co-incidence..., or, as Jung postulated: synchronicity(?) Or, horror-of-horrors, Sheldrake's ideas about morphic fields and morphogenesis??? We just don't know, do we? No, we do not.
But, it is fun to hypothesize---isn't it? I like to dream---though lately, they are getting ugly.

MJA's picture

MJA

Wednesday, May 2, 2012 -- 5:00 PM

"...a dreamer and a hopeless

"...a dreamer and a hopeless romantic" Dave?
Well then thank you, I've been called much much worse.
If you asked me though, I would simply call myself a philosopher, some One as Socrates defined in Plato's Symposium as: a lover of wisdom.
My passion is true.
The Heart Rings True
An authentic life is a true life.
Then to live a true life is to be true.
But the wonderful Socrates would ask: What is true?
Well, true is simply you.
So how does One know with certainty,
When he is authentically true?
Listen to your own heart,
For it will ring loud and clear,
When true and you are One.
Ring........
=
MJA
PS: The Symposium would make a good summer read!

Guest's picture

Guest

Wednesday, May 2, 2012 -- 5:00 PM

"Love seems to be an

"Love seems to be an invention of the mammals," wrote Carl Sagan in The Dragons of Eden. Reptiles are neuro-anatomically incapable of love and birds only capable of a rudimentary form of it. But the mammalian brain is designed to include love in the mammalian emotions.

Guest's picture

Guest

Friday, May 18, 2012 -- 5:00 PM

Ran across the following

Ran across the following comment by Morris Berman: "In fact, romantic love is effectively a religious experience, in which the deity worshipped is the beloved....romantic love is at root not a sexual experience but a sacred (biopsychic) one; why love is really the key to Plato's entire metaphysics; and why, if Western philosophy is indeed a series of footnotes to Plato, so much of the history of Western consciousness boils down to an attempt to find love/God through indirect means. Love denied, and the somatic experience of that denial, is -- as de Rougemont recognized -- the hidden, and gnostic/heretical, thread of Western history." (Coming To Our Senses; 1989)

Guest's picture

Guest

Friday, May 25, 2012 -- 5:00 PM

Tomorrow will be Sunday, Indy

Tomorrow will be Sunday, Indy 500 day, 2012. (May 27, 2012). I would love to see the sunrise---no, scratch that---I'd very much like to see the sunrise. Being alive is essential for that eventuality. Love has nothing to do with it. And I care nothing for the race, so, as Graham Martin has intimated: it does not matter. I like many of the people who populate my life, but love few---and suspect the favor is returned. My love for anyone---anything---in this life, has mattered little. Did it make someone happier to know I loved them? I doubt it. People are either happy or they are not and love matters little in determining that.
So---love is over-rated---but fulfills a cultural expectation. And this is what we are all about, isn't it?

Guest's picture

Guest

Wednesday, September 12, 2012 -- 5:00 PM

Love is an emotion that

Love is an emotion that overwhelms the mind and draws it to its object in a warm and almost exclusive manner. It is a kind of energy that is pacifying and enriching to its subject and that sees its object close within and even part of itself.

moona123's picture

moona123

Thursday, July 9, 2015 -- 5:00 PM

Love is the most beautiful

Love is the most beautiful and significant relationship in the world. Without love life is considered nothing. With the love you can make place in others heart. Love attitude always show your nature and character. So send daily love quotes to your dear ones and show them how much you love and sincere with them.
 
Love Quotes

Guest's picture

Guest

Saturday, January 16, 2016 -- 4:00 PM

 

This is my testimony about the good work of a man who helped me..My name is Tracy Adams, and I base in Canada. My life is back!!! After 2 years of marriage, my husband left me with our three kids. I felt like my life was about to end, and was falling apart. Thanks to a spell caster called Dr ABU who i met online. On one faithful day, as I was browsing through the internet, I was searching for a good spell caster that can solve my problems. I came across series of testimonies about this particular spell caster. Some people testified that he brought their Ex lover back, some testified that he restores womb, some testified that he can cast a spell to stop divorce and so on. There was one particular testimony I saw, it was about a woman called grace,she testified about how Dr ABU brought back her Ex lover in less than 72 hours and at the end of her testimony she gave Dr ABU e-mail address. After reading all these,I decided to give Dr ABU a try. I contacted him with his via email address and explained my problem to him. In just 2 days, my husband came back to me. We solved our issues, and we are even happier than before. Dr ABU is really a talented and gifted man and i will not to stop publishing him because he is a wonderful Dr...If you have a problem and you are looking for a real and genuine spell caster to solve that problem for you. Try Dr John today, he might be the answer to your problem. Here's his contact: SPELLCENTRE@GMAIL.COM Thank you once again Dr ABU Contact him for the following:
(1)If you want your ex back.
(2) if you always have bad dreams.
(3)You want to be promoted in your office.
(4)You want women/men to run after you.
(5)If you want a child.
(6)[You want to be rich.
(7)You want to tie your husband/wife to be yours forever.
(8)If you need financial assistance.
(9)If you want to stop your Divorce
10)Help bringing people out of prison
(11)Marriage Spells
(12)Miracle Spells
(13)Beauty Spells
(14)PROPHECY CHARM
(15)Attraction Spells
(16)Evil Eye Spells
(17)Kissing Spell
(18)Remove Sickness Spells
(19)ELECTION WINNING SPELLS
(20)SUCCESS IN EXAMS SPELLS
(21) Charm to get who to love you.
Contact him today on: SPELLCENTRE@GMAIL.COMSPELLCENTRE@GMAIL.COM

prasidhphi's picture

prasidhphi

Monday, February 15, 2016 -- 4:00 PM

lovehttp://lotusocean

lovehttp://lotusocean.blogspot.co.uk/2008/10/love.html
"there are lot of people running around in
this mad world spewing this word 'Love'
infact it might be the most used word
in the world, after expletives that is
even through the simplest observation we find that
this word has been reduced to a bond
pushed vigourously by media & society
created primarily between -
1. a man & a woman (lovers)
2. a woman and her child (holy mother-child relationship; we exclude the father-child relationship here because it is not so celebrated)
3. a man and a man or a woman and a woman ( friends; gay/lesbian club takes this to the lover level)
through an honest look
one finds that ALL of these relationships
end in tears, sorrow, heartbreak
in fact most beings end up
being completely disillusioned by the whole concept of 'love'
so does True, Pure, Real, Everlasting Love exist?
and if so why do these society okayed relationships not have it?
lotusocean answers ~
YES it does exist but can only happen between
a *soul* & *the divine supersoul*
the only Love which makes sense
it is for something greater than yourself
something perfect
a Love which can actually make one transcend
all the evil of this plane
the only Love
which makes one Evolve
i.e do what Love is supposed to do
ALL the relationships of this plane are all
based on varying degrees of *selfishness*
even the love
for animals, country, religion etc is
tinged with this 'identification selfishness' which
ironically doesn't do any good for the self
though some might argue
that mother-child relationship is an exception
but it can be proven quite easily that mothers
only do something for their child as they expect
them to fulfill their own unfulfilled expectations & dreams
mothers are themselves no perfect beings
and in their ignorance push their child towards
devoluting ways without even knowing what they are doing
same applies to everyone else
how can one imperfect being Love another imperfect being perfectly ?
one can delude oneself that they do
for a while
but the illusion is likely to break
sooner or later
in ALL these relationships one
is not really loving but just expecting someone
to behave the way they want them to behave
this training in fact doesn't allow beings to
even Love the *absolute* perfectly because
they are so used to their own constructs
being fulfilled by someone else
the TRUTH is/was/willbe that only
the perfect being CAN
be loved perfectly and only that love
can lead one to perfection within
rest is just a timepass with ever-rising stakes ...
stakes are high because evil beings/demons etc
are using this word to exploit the light beings
of their soul & energy with disasterous & painful consequences
for the involved"

 
 
 
 

Blog Archive

2018

September

August

July

June

May

April

March

February

January

2017

December

November

October

September

August

July

June

May

April

March

February

January

2016

December

October

September

August

July

June

May

April

March

February

January

2015

December

November

October

September

August

July

June

May

April

March

February

January

2005

December

November

October

September

August

July

June

May

April

March