Debate 14 discussion: Is the Concept of Love Real?

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Debate 14 discussion: Is the Concept of Love Real?
sheps
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Posted Jan 3, 2011 - 5:44 AM:

Moliere wrote:
I do believe that the bards point was that such love is not real, actually.


Why? In many ways, R + J is the text I'd look to most for an example of mutually binding, I-give-all-to-you-and-you-to-me love. More so than, say, the rather metaphysical, Platonic (in the sexual sense) love of a DH Lawrence, or the often ridiculous infatuation of a Goethe.
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Posted Jan 3, 2011 - 7:43 AM:

"To be beyond sorrow is to love. Sorrow is the loneliness of the empty mind that has build a wall around itself, the wall of resistance & anxiety. It's the loneliness that breeds sorrow; the sympathy, the consideration which this loneliness offers is the action of escape. In itself it's poor, and out of poverty, there's not a new thing. And love is a new thing and sorrow cannot meet it. Sorrow seeks refuge, an escape, the comfort of words and ashes are not love. Love is dangerous, destructive and words are comforting. And sorrow continues like the weed in the garden; it flourishes and builds temples, churches and tyrannies. To face every fact, not with words & conclusions, to see without thought & so without feeling, to see it without distortion brings about that energy which is essential to meet every movement of life.”

Krishnamurti's Notebook

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Posted Jan 3, 2011 - 12:21 PM:

sheps wrote:


Why? In many ways, R + J is the text I'd look to most for an example of mutually binding, I-give-all-to-you-and-you-to-me love. More so than, say, the rather metaphysical, Platonic (in the sexual sense) love of a DH Lawrence, or the often ridiculous infatuation of a Goethe.


These are true, but I always thought that the text of Romeo and Juliet supports this interpretation. They're both very young and subject to a strong pathos; so much so that they don't seem to think of the welfare of the other person in the equation as much as they think of their own emotional-sexual gratification. The reason why they kill themselves at the end is because such love isn't sustainable, and if love is forever (to use a cliche), then this isn't love.
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Posted Jan 3, 2011 - 12:50 PM:

Moliere wrote:
The reason why they kill themselves at the end is because such love isn't sustainable, and if love is forever (to use a cliche), then this isn't love.


Yes, I think that's a valid interpretation. On the other hand, R + J's love could be seen as but one variety of love - presumably eros - the others being agape (more abstract love, as found in the non-sensual parts of Lawrence) and storge (a natural affection, usually between family members). I haven't seen the last type dwelt on in the discussion, but then again it has become less of a philosophical issue and more of a biological one.
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Posted Jan 3, 2011 - 1:28 PM:

Banno wrote:

Tough.


Tough love.
Apathy Kills
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Posted Jan 3, 2011 - 3:30 PM:

Tobias wrote:
A religious experience purports to say something about a state of affairs outside of the protagonist having this vision, while love is a deoination of a kind of relationship between people. Love is real when someone is affected in a certain way, just like pain is real if someone is affected in a certain way. So Banno in fact has a cake walk it seems. I suspect some hidden platonic overtones in the definition of reality which Apathy Kills uses.


Deoination? You mean demarcation?

Are you rejecting my outline of love as a human construct and social institution? If you are, then I wonder what kind of thing you think love is other than signifying a kind of relationship between people. I would interject that such testimony of the objective quality of religious experiences (i.e. that it is independent of the experiencer's own conscious mind) holds the same status as someone who purports to be in love. The empirical verifiability of love stands on the same grounds as religious experiences because love itself appears to emanate/center from with the individual as do religious experiences. My analogy thus holds when I rebuked Banno for suggesting that love is empirically verifiable by appealing to social experiments in the past. Indeed Banno somewhat contradicts himself about love's empirical verifiability when at the end of his conclusion he states that "the conviction that love is real is bound to being in love". So which is it Banno - is it real because of personal, subjective conviction or because of objective, empirical data? You can't have both.


In any case, Tobias is playing word games here:

Love is real when someone is affected in a certain way, just like pain is real if someone is affected in a certain way.


As I specified in my intro, love is a type of affection and should not be confused with affection in general. You have that right in the first part of this sentence. But the second part of your sentence does not match up with the analogy. You don't tell us what pain is and what type of pain is affecting the person. Pain can be defined in several ways and can come in various forms of expression. One can go the Epicurean route and have one's definition of pain formulated indirectly from one's definition of pleasure. Epicurus defined pleasure as the absence of bodily pain (aponia) and being free from mental disturbance (ataraxia) or you could define pain positively as 'such and such' sensation or affection. Either way, pain comes out being mostly the same types of affect/sensations that we would generally agree with. So, to complete your analogy then let's pick out an instance of pain - let's say shame.

Shame, at dictionary.reference.com -"the painful feeling arising from the consciousness of something dishonorable, improper, ridiculous, etc., done by oneself or another."

Love is real when someone is affected in a certain way, just like shame is real if someone is [painfully] affected in a certain way.

Now that your analogy is finally complete, here is what I think is wrong with it. First, like love, shame is a social invention/construction. Like any other human social construct, shame exists only if we humans continue to exist with the capacity for affections like we have and we continue to participate in/exercise that social institution/construction. When people say "Oh, look at that couple. Their love feels so genuine and real!", what they are saying is that their affections for each other are real and genuine and not love as the social construct and invented narrative that we have made it to be.

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Posted Jan 3, 2011 - 8:50 PM:

unenlightened wrote:


Well thank you for your affectionate commiseration, and the implied acceptance of my criticism. I think I am indeed man enough to cope with my disappointment.


It's too bad 'disappointment' is a human social construction and, thus, not real.sticking out tongue
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Posted Jan 4, 2011 - 1:42 AM:

Are you rejecting my outline of love as a human construct and social institution?


No, 'love' isolated and understood as rmantic love has a certain cultural component. Love, as a concept also has a biblical history and the history of the romantic poets and so on and therefore is a culturally grown idea. We know what we mean by love because of this history. I deny that this somehow makes love unreal.

I would interject that such testimony of the objective quality of religious experiences (i.e. that it is independent of the experiencer's own conscious mind) holds the same status as someone who purports to be in love. The empirical verifiability of love stands on the same grounds as religious experiences because love itself appears to emanate/center from with the individual as do religious experiences.


I would also not reject someone's claim of having a religious experience. Religious experiences are real qua experience, the subject experiences something. The same holds for a hallucination. What I would reject in religious experience and in hallucination alike is the content if the experience (if it involves a personal God with a white beard etc). Similarly, I would not reject someone's claim of loving someone else, especially when this is corroberated by actions which we generally associate with loving behaviour. The extra's is that the object of the lover also exists, that is different when someone has hallucinations. Of course someone may be in love with an imaginary character. That is possible. Still I would than dispute the reality of the love object and not her love (although it will wane since there is no chance of reciprocity)

My analogy thus holds when I rebuked Banno for suggesting that love is empirically verifiable by appealing to social experiments in the past. Indeed Banno somewhat contradicts himself about love's empirical verifiability when at the end of his conclusion he states that "the conviction that love is real is bound to being in love". So which is it Banno - is it real because of personal, subjective conviction or because of objective, empirical data? You can't have both.


It is rather simple. Someone tells you he or she is in love and you watch her actions and see if her behaviour corresponds to her mental state. If that is true chances are that she is in love and not lying about it.

As I specified in my intro, love is a type of affection and should not be confused with affection in general. You have that right in the first part of this sentence. But the second part of your sentence does not match up with the analogy. You don't tell us what pain is and what type of pain is affecting the person. Pain can be defined in several ways and can come in various forms of expression. One can go the Epicurean route and have one's definition of pain formulated indirectly from one's definition of pleasure. Epicurus defined pleasure as the absence of bodily pain (aponia) and being free from mental disturbance (ataraxia) or you could define pain positively as 'such and such' sensation or affection. Either way, pain comes out being mostly the same types of affect/sensations that we would generally agree with. So, to complete your analogy then let's pick out an instance of pain - let's say shame.


Huh? You do know what pain is, no? I don't need to define that for you I hope. And despite not knowing epicurus, you would still know pain. That is the thing it don't need to be defined, you feel it. No matter how we define it, the affect of pain is there. The same goes for love, it is of course enmeshed in culture and in structures of meaning giving and discourse, but the affect is stil there.


Love is real when someone is affected in a certain way, just like shame is real if someone is [painfully] affected in a certain way.


Either you are now abandoning your original position, or you will now have to make a case that the concept of love is not real but "love", mysteriously placed outside its concept is real. The firs amounts to resignation, the second will be a bitch of a position to defend.

Now that your analogy is finally complete, here is what I think is wrong with it. First, like love, shame is a social invention/construction. Like any other human social construct, shame exists only if we humans continue to exist with the capacity for affections like we have and we continue to participate in/exercise that social institution/construction.


You mean, now that you changed it from pain to shame? What kind of a technique is that? And brought about with a ridiculous condescending tone, the nerve. The parameters for shame are a social construction. When one should be ashamed is defined culturally. That one feels shame, sadness, blushing, maybe crying is bodily. The affect still stands. Of course it exists only when humans exists, just like saddles exist only when horses exist, and humans exist to construct saddles and the practice of horse riding exists, but does that make saddles any less real? Why would it be different for an affect?

Their love feels so genuine and real!", what they are saying is that their affections for each other are real and genuine and not love as the social construct and invented narrative that we have made it to be.


Yes there affection is real and we call that affection love. Ergo love is real. Of course we have woven a discourse around love, which is a very real discourse. By the way, we did not invent it as in we invented the steam train. Our cultural signification of love developed historically. Of course that could have developed differently, but it did not. If you would hold a position like, "the meaning attached to love in Western society is contingent and not necessary", I would agree with you, but that was not how the original position was formulated.
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Posted Jan 4, 2011 - 1:51 AM:

It's too bad 'disappointment' is a human social construction and, thus, not real.sticking out tongue


Try walking into a glass door. It is a social constrcution and so, not real. Perhaps you will feel unreal pain too.
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Posted Jan 4, 2011 - 2:47 AM:

Apathy Kills wrote:

I wonder what kind of thing you think love is other than signifying a kind of relationship between people.

...


As I specified in my intro, love is a type of affection...


Is it a feeling, or is it a relationship, or is it both? Feelings are manifested in relationship, are they not?

Apathy Kills wrote:
So which is it Banno - is it real because of personal, subjective conviction or because of objective, empirical data? You can't have both.


I do have both, myself. Subjectivity is manifested in behaviour. I use the word 'behaviour' to make it more difficult to equivocate the 'reality' of relationship. We do not need to separate the 'subjective' feeling of pain from the 'objective' disposition to complain - they are the same thing seen from different places. That it is possible to act out a simulated pain confirms the 'in general' reality, just as a portrait confirms the reality of persons, or the mirage confirms the reality of oases. One can, in due course, tell the difference.


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