33 votes

What is Love?

It's been really interesting to see the responses to various threads here asking questions such as, 'What is God?', 'What is Liberty?', etc.

I think that all (most, many?) of us here would agree that an essential, if not the most essential factor in fostering a r3VOLution for Liberty, is that it be done with Love.

Given that, I'd really 'love' to hear responses to the following questions:

- What is Love? Where does it come from? Is it something transcendent or not?

- Do you agree that Love is the foundation of Liberty, or is it just a nice-to-have thing on the side?

- Will Liberty last in a society that does not have Love?

I think you probably know my views already from other threads (Christian, Platonic view on ideal Love existing and being essential); but I'm interested to hear the variety of views that are out there on 'what is Love?'.

Kind of fits in with us just having celebrated Valentine's Day, I guess. :)



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This is ...

...important for me, personally, to keep in mind. It's so easy to get passionate about all kinds of important and not so important topics and to try to 'wax eloquent' on them so as to convince others of what I see as truth. But if I forget to have love and humility and patience and to see others as people and not just faceless screennames, something is missing -- I get that inward feeling of just being that 'sounding brass' or 'noisy gong'.

Speaking truth in love... (and being open to having my sense of truth corrected or refined)... Thanks for the reminder. :)

One of the most Important Questions of Life!

This is one the most fundamental questions of human existence which means that it is in the first place a philosophical question. There is multiple different opinions, answers and theories to this question. These answers to this Love-Question include different forms of scientific, religious, spiritual, psychological, cultural, moralistic, etc. answers to this question, but this question is the source and inspiration for all of these different concepts of love. The question of love (What is Love?) is more important than different answers because these multiple answers easily exclude other answers or theories about love in a very unloving way.

The question itself is always more important than any answer to this question. Big danger of answers is that the answer of one form becomes the TRUTH and makes one forget the question which was the original driving force, that is, makes one forget the quest. In this sense it could be said that Love itself is perhaps a question of life, that is, a Quest of Life.

I recommend as a starting point in search of the Love-Question Plato's work "Symposium" which is in my opinion the best and the most important text ever written about Love. (This does not mean that it is the truth about love or that it automatically gives the best answer concerning love.) So why is "Symposium" the most important text on Love? The whole topic of 'Symposium' is the question of love (What is Love?), the quest of love. But what is important in this text is not that it gives a certain kind of answer to this Love-Question, but that it expands the readers idea concerning what love is or what it could be. In Plato's 'Symposium' there is seven different speeches given to praise the Question of Love, that is, seven different views about love. And none of these seven concepts of love is so called Platonic Love.

The Platonic Love does not have almost anything to do with Plato. It is just a misinterpretation of Plato as in the first place Plato never tells in any of his texts what he thinks himself about the issues because everything is in a form of dialogue and Plato himself is never any of the characters expressing their ideas. Often it is interpreted that what Socrates says is the opinion of Plato himself, but this is not always for sure the case. On the other hand, if we would take this traditional interpretation that Socrates is pretty much the mouth of Plato himself even then, and especially then, Plato has nothing to do with so called Platonic Love as Socrates says in 'Symposium' that sex is connected to love in a fundamental sense. Socrates says in 'Symposium', for example, "Love from the beginning has been attendant and minister to Aphrodite, since he was begotten on the day of her birth, and is, moreover, by nature a lover bent on beauty since Aphrodite is beautiful." (203c) Aphrodite was the goddess of love, beauty and sexuality and in the time of Plato the Greek verb "aphrodisiazein" meant to 'have sexual intercourse'. This would mean that it can be very well said that Socrates actually says: "Love from the beginning has been attendant and minister to Sex". What does this mean? That would need a new DP post titled 'What is Sex?' At least it means that there is no Love without Sex as everyone of us is born out of sex, out of sexual act. In this sense love is a product of sexual act as is the whole of our human existence. There is nothing human without sex. This sentence should not be interpreted in any trivial way, for example, in any banal Freudian manner. But what does that mean is another question and actually very complicated question concerning the mystery of sex.

One tip for reading Plato is that never trust the ordinary commentaries of Plato. These trivial commentaries are full of misinterpretations and simplifications of the complexity of Plato's writing. As I wrote that one of these complete misinterpretations is Platonic Love. Another misinterpretation is so called Plato's Theory of Ideas. Plato does not have this kind of Theory of Ideas which is represented in most of the so called Introductions to Plato or Histories of Philosophy.

Another brilliant text on Love is Plato's "Phaedrus". It is all about positive madness of love.

Plato's teacher Socrates was a philosopher of love. For Socrates, philosophy is one of the most important expressions of love.

Read Plato's 'Symposium' and 'Phaedrus' as they are the source, together with the Bible, of almost all different Western concepts of Love. Of course most of the interpretations of Western thinkers concerning love are misinterpretations of Plato. So go to the source. After one has drank from the source the tap water (for example, different psychologies of love) just tastes tasteless, banal or even disgusting.

"Air is the very substance of our freedom, the substance of superhuman joy....aerial joy is freedom."--Gaston Bachelard--

Just bought...

...John Cooper's 'Complete Works of Plato' this past weekend, so I'll be ready to explore this some more now! :). Thanks for the insights to help me dig deeper.

I am very intrigued with the whole theory of the 'forms', although I understand this is to be found in bits and pieces throughout the dialogues. Lots of reading ahead. :)

Great news!

Do you mean that you bought the WHOLE 'Complete Works of Plato'? If so, then WOW!

Plato is the source as I wrote in my other comment and as such it means like Whitehead said famously 'the whole Western thinking is just a serious of footnotes to Plato'

If I may give you little suggestion: I would start with the text 'The Apology'.

And after that I would read 'Symposium' and 'Phaedrus' which are the most important texts on Love. And to follow these you could read 'Theaetetus'.

If you want some text to read on the side while reading Plato, then I would suggest Martin Heidegger's book 'The Essence of Truth: On Plato's Cave Allegory and Theaetetus'. It is a great book in-itself and in it Heidegger gives a very good example of how to read Plato VERY carefully. In his book the questions of truth, freedom (the difficult process of liberation to truth), and knowledge are primordial questions concerning Plato. Also the question of Eros (Love) is also touched briefly. Even if I was warning of commentators of Plato, this book of Heidegger I can recommend whole-heartedly.
As in this OP of yours the basic question is the question of love: what is love?, then in Heidegger's book on Plato he is asking with the help of Plato following questions: what is truth?, what is freedom?, what is knowledge? and ultimately the question of human being: what is human being?, that is, what does it mean to BE a human BEING. The being of human being is always in some important way tied with all these other questions.

"Air is the very substance of our freedom, the substance of superhuman joy....aerial joy is freedom."--Gaston Bachelard--

Yeah...

the COMPLETE works. :) Needless to say the pages are super thin like a Bible's in order to have it all in a single volume. Heh heh -- I also bought the complete works of Shakespeare at the same time. lol -- I REALLY have my reading cut out for me. :) Good to fill these gaps in my library.

Thanks again for the recommendations.

Patience is how Jesus defined love.

I thought about this for a long time years ago. I read my Bible Concordance and found by looking up the word love answers the question.

If you are genuinely and sincerely interested in the spiritual growth of another and are very patient watering and waiting for a seed to sprout and grow, well, you are getting closer to how Jesus showed love.

“That which can be asserted without evidence, can be dismissed without evidence.”

Some say 'God is Love',

I say Love is God.

It is the fabric that connects people to people, making them aware of those around them no matter where they may be. It gives value to what is truly precious to each and every one of us. It is shared by people no matter their species, race, religion, gender, sexuality, age, appearance and the like: it can be platonic or romantic, friendly or familial. Everyone in the world knows what it is, religious or non-religious.

If not for love, there is no awareness of your world. You would not see the colours of nature, or the light of day and the glimmer of night; you would not hear the songs of voices, or feel the windflows around you; there would be nothing for you but fifty shades of dull, endless, indifferent grey, contained in the cold machine of your being. People would not strive for the betterment of other people, or care about nature and their surroundings, or to search for true freedom and liberty to share with others, or to feel any emotion, or to simply live, if it were not for love.

Nothing would compel you otherwise.

I believe in the freedom to be what we choose to be.

I like

this answer :)

Freedom is a byproduct of acceptance - judge not.

Love is A Particular Type of Energy.

All that exists is energy in motion.

Energy in motion is subdivided by how FAST it is moving or VIBRATING.
The speed of the vibration is called FREQUENCY.

Love is the word we use to describe a particularly HIGH FREQUENCY.

This frequency, which comes in response to the thoughts you think, can be brought about on purpose and in a number of ways:

1) You focus your thoughts/attention on a person - and having almost PURE APPRECIATION for that person (their beauty, their humor, their passion etc.) you allow your body to WEAR that frequency we call love.

2) You focus on an animal, nature, music - any THING - and having that same PURE APPRECIATION - you wear that frequency.

3) You can sit alone, go into your imagination, and FOCUS on anything you want - once you reach a state of PURE APPRECIATION you can bring out that feeling.

There is much MUCH more to this story - that's why I'm putting it in book form.
Love is an energetic Frequency.

this is a very interesting

this is a very interesting point of view and the guy that down voted it is just jealous

Love is Truth.

Love is Truth.

- Brennan

Love is justice.

Love

I have loved and been loved. It is different for each type of individual. I first knew parental love as a child, sibling love, friends love, co-workers love, neighbors love, lovers love. The best love by far has been the love for my child. Love teaches us many things.....

Nullify and set your self free!

love is the energy

love is the energy that radiates from your heart, from every cell, from every atom, from everything. It connects us.

Love is

being willing to lay down you life for your family and friends. That is the strongest form of love out there.

Thank you for taking all those serious threads and making a very wonderful, light-hearted one.

Isaiah 2:4
And he shall judge among the nations, and shall rebuke many people: and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks: nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more.

Cyril's picture

One thing is for sure: cheerfulness doesn't always imply love

One thing is for sure: cheerfulness doesn't always imply love, if anyone had doubts.

Evidence:

http://www.youtu.be/Fgcd1ghag5Y

"Cyril" pronounced "see real". I code stuff.

http://Laissez-Faire.Me/Liberty

"To study and not think is a waste. To think and not study is dangerous." -- Confucius

Michael Nystrom's picture

The universal energy and force

of the Universe. It holds everything together. Without it there is nothing.

There is a book out there called, "What we believe but cannot prove."

http://www.amazon.com/What-Believe-but-Cannot-Prove/dp/00608...

One guy in there - a brain scientist (sadly, I can't tell you who, or on what page, because I don't have my copy with me right now) - says that most brain scientists believe that by studying the physical matter of the brain, they'll eventually figure out the mechanism by which consciousness arises. This guy says they've got it all wrong. They're barking up the wrong tree, and they'll never figure it out, because they've got the logic reversed:

It is not consciousness that arises from matter. The entire universe is consciousness, and it is from that consciousness that matter arises.

Which is a long, roundabout way of me saying the same thing about Love. The Universe is love. It is infused with love. Love is the force that holds everything together. It is everywhere, and therefore all around you if you will only wake up, tune into it and stop resisting it.

The only way to make sense out of change is to plunge into it, move with it, and join the dance. - Alan Watts

Thanks...

...Michael. I will have to check out that book you mention. So much to read, so little time (sigh). :)

What you say resonates with my outlook as well, albeit with more particulars on what, or Who, Love is. I agree that it is fundamental -- not just an illusion derived from cold, dead non-Love, like some passing cloud that appears to be a sailing ship but really isn't. Love (and Person) is eternal, and all things are derived from it. The things which attempt to defy it are themselves the passing vapors, the clouds, and they will not stand in the end.

Eryximachus' Concept of Love

What you describe here is pretty close to the concept of Love described by Eryximachus in Plato's Symposium. In Eryximachus' speech Love is the Universal Force of Nature. Eryximachus speaks from perspective of scientist of his time.

I highly recommend to read Plato's Symposium if you have not read it. I would rate it as the best text on Love ever written. Eryximachus' speech is by the way only 3 page long. And if you read it do not read any commentaries of it before hand as their interpretations will most probably just give wrong ideas to the reader. For example, Plato did NOT have a theory of Ideas in a form that almost all so called Introductions to Philosophy/Plato claim he had. Also the so called Platonic Love does not have almost anything to do with Plato's Concept of Love.

Plato's other text on love is "Phaedrus" which is also absolutely brilliant. In it Plato understands Love, for example, as positive form of madness which is the source of all good like creativity, poetics, philosophy, ect.

"Air is the very substance of our freedom, the substance of superhuman joy....aerial joy is freedom."--Gaston Bachelard--

Link us to the text

Commentaries are the ONLY thing that Google turns up.

I believe in the freedom to be what we choose to be.

Link to 'Symposium' and 'Phaedrus'

Here is a link to one website which has both 'Symposium' and 'Phaedrus'. I am not sure how good these translations are, but at least it is better to read them than the commentaries.

Symposium
http://www.perseus.tufts.edu/hopper/text?doc=Perseus%3Atext%....

The Speech of Eryximachus starts here:
http://www.perseus.tufts.edu/hopper/text?doc=Plat.+Sym.+185e...

Phaedrus
http://www.perseus.tufts.edu/hopper/text?doc=Perseus%3Atext%...

"Air is the very substance of our freedom, the substance of superhuman joy....aerial joy is freedom."--Gaston Bachelard--

Love is Relative because it is an Emotion

Emotion: A conscious mental reaction subjectively experienced as strong feeling usually directed toward a specific object and typically accompanied by physiological and behavioral changes in the body.

Think Cause and Effect.

We give Emotions names, and pair them to their opposites, such as Love/Hate, Like/DisLike, Good/Bad, Happy/Sad, Calm/Angry, Positive/ Negative. Trying to fit a name to an emotion is not easy, as the emotion is personally experienced. Not everyone experiences emotions to the same degree or to the same percent.

Emotions are Relative, they are not Absolutes.

Relative: Something dependent upon external conditions for its specific nature, size, etc.

Just few Questions

What about if Love is not an emotion? Is it possible that it is something else than an emotion?

First of all this definition of emotion that you state is highly ambiguous.

"Emotion: A conscious mental reaction subjectively experienced as strong feeling usually directed toward a specific object and typically accompanied by physiological and behavioral changes in the body."

Does love fall into this definition of emotion? What do we mean by 'a conscious mental reaction'? Can reaction be directed toward something or is a reaction the outcome occurring by the one who has been directed toward by someone else?

What does mean 'subjectively experienced' specific object? Is there something like 'objectively experienced' specific object? And if there is then what is the difference between subjectively experienced and objectively experienced object? And if human being is capable of objective experience, then why couldn't love be an objective experience whatever that means? And what is the relation between the subjective and the body? Are we here talking about the body in its physiological sense or in some other sense? If body is only physiological object can it be directed toward some other object? And what is the connection of physiological and behavioral? Does the behavioral mean the same as psychological? If it does, then what is the relation between the physiological and the psychological?

And is the case that love is "usually directed toward a specific object"? Is it possible that love in the first place is not at all directed toward some specific object? And if love is directed toward object, and it is subjectively experienced feeling, then is love in the first place this "subjectively experienced feeling" or the RELATION BETWEEN the subject and the object? So is the love in first place in the subject or the betweenness of the subject and the object or the directedness itself? Or possibly somewhere or something else?

Why isn't it possible that I can some times hate a person or a thing that I love?

If "Relative" means "Something dependent upon external conditions for its specific nature, size, etc.", then isn't the whole human existence absolutely relative as we exist only in relation to the world. If love is relative because it is an emotion, does that mean (with this same logic) that as human existence is in itself relative, because we exist only in relation to something else (to the world, to the nature, to the language, to the other people, etc.) that human existence, that is, human being is an Emotion. And if this is the case, then everything human is emotion. But what would that mean?

Would that mean that actually the concept of human being is in the first place a dynamic concept? Does it mean that the essence of human being is movement? And is this directedness toward the object also movement? Would that mean that love is actually movement toward something?

"Air is the very substance of our freedom, the substance of superhuman joy....aerial joy is freedom."--Gaston Bachelard--

God is Love.

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

Absolutely

giving your own life for others. Christ did this for all even those that would reject Him and those that spit in His face during his crucifixion.

Isaiah 2:4
And he shall judge among the nations, and shall rebuke many people: and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks: nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more.

Baby don't hurt me

Don't hurt me. No more.

lol nooooooo

that song will stick in my head all night now!

Isaiah 2:4
And he shall judge among the nations, and shall rebuke many people: and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks: nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more.