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JosephM

Love? What is it?

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44 minutes ago, PaulS said:

I don't see Christian Love as Agape - i.e. unconditional.  That may be an elusive goal, but I certainly don't see it as a regular practice.  I'm sure even you would acknowledge that your Christian Love does have some boundaries and if there are any boundaries at all, then it is not unconditional, not agape.

When people say 'mere' chemical reactions, I don't think there is anything 'mere' actually about that.  In fact, I think it is pretty amazing that the human species has evolved to this degree.  With evolution our concept and understanding and use for love has also evolved.  Because our love seems to be different to that displayed by 'lower' creatures we see ourselves as holding some sort of 'superior' love, but in reality, what they are, we once were, we have simply evolved further along (at this point).

I would agree that Christian Love is an elusive goal for many but it is what Christians are called to do and to be. However, it is or is to be unconditional. Agape has been used to capture this Love for ages. Christian Love, reflecting or being the Love which is God, is (meant to be) without boundaries, thus unconditional, thus agape. 

The mere was employed to make the point that Agape/Love is an act of will, a decision.

But if we are speaking of human being, we are no longer only what 'lower' creatures are and since will or decision is involved, our Love is different not merely in degree but in kind. I typically don't use the word superior.

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21 minutes ago, thormas said:

I would agree that Christian Love is an elusive goal for many but it is what Christians are called to do and to be. However, it is or is to be unconditional. Agape has been used to capture this Love for ages. Christian Love, reflecting or being the Love which is God, is (meant to be) without boundaries, thus unconditional, thus agape. 

The mere was employed to make the point that Agape/Love is an act of will, a decision.

It's interesting that to experience agape love that you think one must choose to implement such love, that it doesn't just come naturally.  That being the case, I question what 'love' is really being demonstrated here - love for the person that it is supposedly being directed at, or love for the understanding that that is what one is meant to do/be?

For instance, I didn't fall in love with my wife because I thought that was what I was called to do and to be, but rather I would say it seemed that I had no control over that love, had no choice in the matter.  Which ties in with what I suspect is chemical reactions based on on subjective experiences in life which produce this emotion we call love.

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But if we are speaking of human being, we are no longer only what 'lower' creatures are and since will or decision is involved, our Love is different not merely in degree but in kind. I typically don't use the word superior.

I look at the chimpanzee and see love expressed differently than how we are talking here.  But it wasn't all that many millions of years ago that we were like chimps ourselves and as such didn't possess that love in kind.  What has changed - evolution and development of the human species.  So for me personally, it seems obvious that love is more a 'development' of evolution than a reflection of some God waiting in the wings for us to develop and then bestow us with such 'love'.

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1 hour ago, PaulS said:

Endurance of love is simply a prolonging of the emotional response.  Sometimes that response changes through time (a marriage couple may experience a deepening of their love whilst another couple may experience a lessening of their love for one another, all based on their experiences and chemical reactions throughout the period).  Love can certainly be satiated at points in time, including eros where sexual desire immediately diminishes following sex, but is often soon restored.

I think your quote from John points to precisely how love can be satiated or can diminish over time.  I may be prepared to lay down my life for you today, but I might not be prepared to do so in 10 years time based on our experiences between now and then.  

I'm not claiming love is inflexible in degree, but that it is so different from known motivational paradigms that using those as a definition is futile.

I don't think we have definition from you yet.  Are you ready?  Love is ________.

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29 minutes ago, Burl said:

I'm not claiming love is inflexible in degree, but that it is so different from known motivational paradigms that using those as a definition is futile.

I don't think it's about inflexibility of love so to speak, but the actuality of the emotion changing that demonstrates that love is an ever changing emotion based on our experiences and the brain's chemical reactions.  Hate and pride are some other particularly powerful motivational paradigms and these also ebb and flow depending on experiences and the brain's reaction.  Maslow's theory of motivation calls up physiological needs and safety needs before love as a motivator, so I don't think it is as far removed as you think.

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I don't think we have definition from you yet.  Are you ready?  Love is ________.

Refer to my initial post in this thread - Love is an emotion.  Love is an emotion just like hate, anger, trust, joy, panic, fear, and grief are all emotions.  Like all of those other emotions, love is an emotion generated by our brain.  The emotion of love has evolved along with our species, most likely because there was a benefit to the human species in employing such.

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4 minutes ago, PaulS said:

Love is an emotion.  I thought I made that point in my original post in this thread.  Love is an emotion just like hate, anger, trust, joy, panic, fear, and grief are all emotions.  Like all of those other emotions, love is an emotion generated by our brain.

You have dumped a lot of unsorted emotions into the same container, but that does not distinguish love.  I think the distinguishing feature is the willingness to sacrifice for the sake of the object.  This isn't a comprehensive definition, but it's a start.

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7 minutes ago, Burl said:

You have dumped a lot of unsorted emotions into the same container, but that does not distinguish love.  I think the distinguishing feature is the willingness to sacrifice for the sake of the object.  This isn't a comprehensive definition, but it's a start.

I think people have been willing to sacrifice their lives for pride, hate and anger as well.  Emotions will do that to you.

Love has distinguishing characteristics, as do all emotions, that's why we have labels for them:

Love is the desire for sex - eros

Love is the desire to find an appropriate mate - ludus

Love is a pragmatic partnership that benefits the species and raises offspring - pragma.

Love is a word, with limitations, used to try and describe various emotions our brain produces.  So we can distinguish love from hate, pride, trust etc.  Is that what you are asking?

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4 minutes ago, PaulS said:

I think people have been willing to sacrifice their lives for pride, hate and anger as well.  Emotions will do that to you.

To willingly sacrifice for the benefit of the object.  I get the impression that you do not love this question.

 

 

 

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21 minutes ago, Burl said:

To willingly sacrifice for the benefit of the object.  I get the impression that you do not love this question.

Greed too is an emotion that seeks to benefit the object also and indeed people have been prepared to lay down their life in order to obtain this benefit.

Certainly the emotion of love can result in a person willingly sacrificing their life in order to benefit others.  Indeed, a man I know of committed suicide when faced with bankruptcy so that his wife and young son could receive a hefty life insurance payout and not live in poverty. 

So yes, on a simplistic level 'love' can result in a willingness to sacrifice for the benefit of the object, but I don't think that is THE descriptive factor for defining 'love'.  Actually, I don't think there is a single descriptive factor as our language has limitations.  If we take any number of the the Greek words for love, how many of those would involve the sacrificing of one's life to obtain?  You would kill yourself if you couldn't have sex/eros love?  When do you lay down your life if you don't find ludus love?  If your pragma love ends with your spouse dying, should you also die?

Maybe death is too dramatic (I was just picking up on your John quote).  But how are eros, ludus even pragma love, evidenced by the willingness to incur loss so that another party may benefit?

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4 minutes ago, PaulS said:

Greed too is an emotion that seeks to benefit the object also and indeed people have been prepared to lay down their life in order to obtain this benefit.

Certainly the emotion of love can result in a person willingly sacrificing their life in order to benefit others.  Indeed, a man I know of committed suicide when faced with bankruptcy so that his wife and young son could receive a hefty life insurance payout and not live in poverty. 

So yes, on a simplistic level 'love' can result in a willingness to sacrifice for the benefit of the object, but I don't think that is THE descriptive factor for defining 'love'.  Actually, I don't think there is a single descriptive factor as our language has limitations.  If we take any number of the the Greek words for love, how many of those would involved the sacrificing of one's life to obtain?  You would kill yourself if you couldn't have sex/eros love?  When do you lay down your life if you don't find ludus love?  If your pragma love ends with your spouse dying, should you also die?

We need to use our own language, and distinguish from the closest relations in the lexicon. Love or affection?  Crush? Attraction? Desire? Cherish? Puppy love?

I think this is a better hermeneutic.  Starting with big differences and dead languages seems like an ineffective method.

 

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8 minutes ago, Burl said:

We need to use our own language, and distinguish from the closest relations in the lexicon. Love or affection?  Crush? Attraction? Desire? Cherish? Puppy love?

I think this is a better hermeneutic.  Starting with big differences and dead languages seems like an ineffective method.

 

But that's the thing with languages, isn't it.  They are just words to try and describe what we experience.  Often, as can be seen here with the word love, they have immense shortcomings.  So trying to define love as a single experience or defined by a single theory is like trying to herd cats.  I suspect that's why Greek thinkers developed so many different words for our emotions associated with love - because one single word just doesn't cut it (you do the same above with several different types of English words to capture the different types of love emotions we experience).  We can play that game of course, and we do in all manner of ways in defining and labeling things in life, but at the end of the day, you are only going to end up with a word or meaning that covers some or much of what some or most people feel is okay to define love.  I can't see how it will be a conclusive definition that will reverberate throughout time eternal.

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Interesting tool used in teaching emotions

 

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3 minutes ago, Burl said:

Interesting tool used in teaching emotions

Precisely to my point Burl - to try and say that love is defined as to willingly sacrifice for the benefit of the object, seems to miss so many other elements and factors in the emotions we are trying to lump together into one single word called love.  'Love' per se does not exist - emotions on a wide ranging scale, do.

 

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1 hour ago, PaulS said:

Precisely to my point Burl - to try and say that love is defined as to willingly sacrifice for the benefit of the object, seems to miss so many other elements and factors in the emotions we are trying to lump together into one single word called love.  'Love' per se does not exist - emotions on a wide ranging scale, do.

 

This was my definition: An energy potential, evidenced by the willingness to incurr loss so that another party may benefit.

You better hope Mrs. Paul doesn't read this or the loss you incur will be having to sleep in the doghouse.

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4 minutes ago, Burl said:

This was my definition: An energy potential, evidenced by the willingness to incurr loss so that another party may benefit.

You better hope Mrs. Paul doesn't read this or the loss you incur will be having to sleep in the doghouse.

Which is a perfectly good stab at it Burl, but I don't think it captures love in all its dimensions and ways we understand the word love.  That's because, in my opinion, love is not one particular thing but rather is an emotion on a wide-ranging scale of emotions.  That scale varies depending on cultural, societal, biological and chemical inputs.

As I said, I don't think we are doing the word justice if we try to narrow down every type of experience and emotion associated with the word love only with the willingness to incur loss to another party's benefit.

I won't argue that typically we would regard self-sacrifice to another's benefit as love.  But I don't think love is characterised only by such self-sacrifice.  Indeed, the ancient Greeks would seem to agree with me as they came up with many more words for emotions on the love scale that exclude your requirement.

People love cars, people love to do things and experience joy, people love to put down others.  I love my dog and I love my wife.  Do I love them equally?  Is it really the same love?  Is all love equal?

It used to be that society regarded striking a child to correct their errors as demonstrating  love.  That is probably less prominent these days.  Where did that love go?

Some think hurting their enemies to protect their loved ones is demonstrating love.  Pure pro-creation is love with minimal emotion.

Love can be both a noun and a verb.  We use the word love to try and capture what we experience and what we feel, but I don't see 'Love' itself as something separate or outside of us.  It is not a force or a entity that one can point to and call Love.  It is an emotion that we label, and a wide-ranging one at that.  So when you say Love is....I can only read that you are saying love is a certain way of behaving, but to me, those ways of behaving can change over time and hence we change the definition of the word love.  Because that's all love is - a word we are using to describe a wide-range of emotions.

Now we can either agree or come close to agreeing on what we, as a society, want that word to represent, but at the end of the day it is just a word, not a 'thing'.

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On 5/27/2019 at 10:00 AM, JosephM said:

To me, Love is a non-judgmental acceptance of the other. It is not an emotion or particular action in itself  but rather an awareness of the connectiveness and interrelationship  of all things. It seems to me, any actions that take place in Love  flow from the expression of the that awareness and for the most part are unpredictable to the thinking mind in advance.

I find it hard not to consider love scientifically (not that I'm any sort of scientist!) in the face of what is known/demonstrated with brain research and evidence of physiological changes when studying 'love'.  MRI scans demonstrate areas of the brain becoming active when a person is shown a picture of a loved one, as well as chemicals released associated with those experiences.  Chemicals such as cortisol and dopamine are released by the brain resulting in the person feeling 'good' which obviously is a pleasant experience and it is what the brain then recognises as love.

Also, I don't think it is surprising that expressions of love are unpredictable to the thinking mind, because much of what drives love comes from our subconscious.  That's where we have filed away all the bits of data and experience that trigger our emotional reactions to anything.  We don't choose to make our hearts race, palms sweat, cheeks flush, or feelings of passion and anxiety etc, just as we don't concentrate on making sure we breathe, or blink or swallow.  The subconscious makes us do those things.  A simple example would be how we may find one particular person attractive as a life partner but don't give another a second glance.  Some may think that's choice but I would suggest it is triggered by our subconscious and what it has learnt/ interpreted from our experience thus far (and perhaps a little bit of genetic imprint thrown in for good measure).

But as you use the word love in the sense that it is simply awareness of the connectiveness & interrelationship of all things, I'm not sure what that actually looks like.  Sure, one may be aware of such, but how does that look like love?  Thinking or actual non-judgmental acceptance of another may be a demonstration of practicing that idea of love, but I don't see how that makes it any different from any other emotion that makes you feel or act a certain way.  You feel connected, so for you that is the emotion of love.

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10 hours ago, PaulS said:

It's interesting that to experience agape love that you think one must choose to implement such love, that it doesn't just come naturally.  That being the case, I question what 'love' is really being demonstrated here - love for the person that it is supposedly being directed at, or love for the understanding that that is what one is meant to do/be?

For instance, I didn't fall in love with my wife because I thought that was what I was called to do and to be, but rather I would say it seemed that I had no control over that love, had no choice in the matter.  Which ties in with what I suspect is chemical reactions based on on subjective experiences in life which produce this emotion we call love.

Quote

Not necessarily saying there is not something natural with the expression of agape love. 

Also, there is not a binary choice between "love for the person that it is supposedly being directed at, or love for the understanding that that is what one is meant to do/be." It is losing yourself (giving in love) that one finds their truest self. It is in the doing of love that one is or becomes what they are 'meant to be.'  The one is in the other.

The love we have for a spouse is eros not agape and the lucky among us do indeed become more because of our decision. We do fall in love but there does seem to be a choice in the decision to be together for life. So there may be chemical reactions but that is never all there is, even in eros.

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10 hours ago, PaulS said:

I look at the chimpanzee and see love expressed differently than how we are talking here.  But it wasn't all that many millions of years ago that we were like chimps ourselves and as such didn't possess that love in kind.  What has changed - evolution and development of the human species.  So for me personally, it seems obvious that love is more a 'development' of evolution than a reflection of some God waiting in the wings for us to develop and then bestow us with such 'love'.

But those years have passed, we are human beings and there is a difference in kind.

I also give credit to evolution. John Hick, referring to the early Eastern Fathers, speaks of man being made in the image of man (slowly through evolution) and then becoming the likeness of God - where he decides to be as God is; i.e. Love/Agape. So, sure, there was a period of development but 'now' agape is a decision and perhaps the more we do it, the more 'natural' it becomes. And, there is no god in the wings and there are no wings, however, as you said with evolution, there is development - so we were 'waited on' until we evolved and now it is up to us to decide to Love and bestow upon ourselves the 'next stage' in our growth.

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10 hours ago, PaulS said:

I think people have been willing to sacrifice their lives for pride, hate and anger as well.  Emotions will do that to you.

Yet such sacrifices, done in anger, hate or pride, are for self. Sacrifice out of agape is for the other. Agape is a decision.

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10 hours ago, PaulS said:

Indeed, a man I know of committed suicide when faced with bankruptcy so that his wife and young son could receive a hefty life insurance payout and not live in poverty. 

They paid the insurance even when he committed suicide? Thought that nullified the insurance. Also, it may have benefited others but seems they would have preferred him alive.

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8 hours ago, PaulS said:

I find it hard not to consider love scientifically (not that I'm any sort of scientist!) in the face of what is known/demonstrated with brain research and evidence of physiological changes when studying 'love'.  MRI scans demonstrate areas of the brain becoming active when a person is shown a picture of a loved one, as well as chemicals released associated with those experiences.  Chemicals such as cortisol and dopamine are released by the brain resulting in the person feeling 'good' which obviously is a pleasant experience and it is what the brain then recognises as love.

Also, I don't think it is surprising that expressions of love are unpredictable to the thinking mind, because much of what drives love comes from our subconscious.  That's where we have filed away all the bits of data and experience that trigger our emotional reactions to anything.  We don't choose to make our hearts race, palms sweat, cheeks flush, or feelings of passion and anxiety etc, just as we don't concentrate on making sure we breathe, or blink or swallow.  The subconscious makes us do those things.  A simple example would be how we may find one particular person attractive as a life partner but don't give another a second glance.  Some may think that's choice but I would suggest it is triggered by our subconscious and what it has learnt/ interpreted from our experience thus far (and perhaps a little bit of genetic imprint thrown in for good measure).

But as you use the word love in the sense that it is simply awareness of the connectiveness & interrelationship of all things, I'm not sure what that actually looks like.  Sure, one may be aware of such, but how does that look like love?  Thinking or actual non-judgmental acceptance of another may be a demonstration of practicing that idea of love, but I don't see how that makes it any different from any other emotion that makes you feel or act a certain way.  You feel connected, so for you that is the emotion of love.

Well, in my view, in a spiritual sense , if God is Love, then Love is not an emotion but rather a state of being. This state of being includes an awareness of our connectiveness and actions or inaction's that flow from knowledge hidden within that state. And yes it is difficult to understand mentally or put in words.

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1 minute ago, JosephM said:

Well, in my view, in a spiritual sense , if God is Love, then Love is not an emotion but rather a state of being. 

Well said.

And perhaps Love is being itself: to do and to be.

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22 minutes ago, thormas said:

Well said.

And perhaps Love is being itself: to do and to be.

Yes, the Frank Sinatra interpretation seems more accurate.

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1 hour ago, Burl said:

Yes, the Frank Sinatra interpretation seems more accurate.

and Frank would have known.............

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11 hours ago, thormas said:

Also, there is not a binary choice between "love for the person that it is supposedly being directed at, or love for the understanding that that is what one is meant to do/be." It is losing yourself (giving in love) that one finds their truest self. It is in the doing of love that one is or becomes what they are 'meant to be.'  The one is in the other.

Each to their own I guess - I don't see our 'truest self' being anything more than what we are.  But if that's how you want to think about yourself, I have no issue.  Same with what you think we are 'meant to be'.

11 hours ago, thormas said:

The love we have for a spouse is eros not agape and the lucky among us do indeed become more because of our decision. We do fall in love but there does seem to be a choice in the decision to be together for life. So there may be chemical reactions but that is never all there is, even in eros.

The decision to be together is most likely our societal norm driving that.  There are also evolutionary benefits to such pairing.  I think the chemical reaction is all there is - that's what makes you think, feel and act.

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11 hours ago, thormas said:

But those years have passed, we are human beings and there is a difference in kind.

I also give credit to evolution. John Hick, referring to the early Eastern Fathers, speaks of man being made in the image of man (slowly through evolution) and then becoming the likeness of God - where he decides to be as God is; i.e. Love/Agape. So, sure, there was a period of development but 'now' agape is a decision and perhaps the more we do it, the more 'natural' it becomes. And, there is no god in the wings and there are no wings, however, as you said with evolution, there is development - so we were 'waited on' until we evolved and now it is up to us to decide to Love and bestow upon ourselves the 'next stage' in our growth.

To me the idea that 'God is love' just seems so man-made, now that we have evolved from apes and are capable of a superior level of thinking and philosophying.

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