Interacting with people, playing with children, etc. can be enjoyable activities. Not saying that we should withdraw from it, but as intelligent people can we take a step back and question love itself, especially as it causes so much pain?
Instead of loving and getting heart broken when the associated people depart from one's lives, why not simply enjoy the company of people (without love, trust and the concomitant sadness, resentment) and continue that enjoyment whenever alone time is in order (short-term or long-term)?
More curiously - why are people reluctant to question love itself? (it is always one person or the other's fault, but never love's fault; why?).
I think it's wise (in most case) to defer to older generations when stuck with serious questions like these -- and I doubt you'll find an older person/person on their deathbed who would say something like "I wish I would have spent less time loving, trusting, and committing to others".
I get the feeling if you took the approach you'd describe, all you'd end up with are a bunch of loose acquaintance-like relationships, and nothing deeper. Generally the realization that all your relationships are shallow is what triggers people to seek out deeper relationships, which need/require love/trust/commitment. Also, even if you were able to become completely content with nothing but shallow relations, good luck not regretting it/wondering if life could have been something more.
Which is why sincerity is essential.
> I think it's wise (in most case) to defer to older generations when stuck with serious questions like these -- and I doubt you'll find an older person/person on their deathbed who would say something like "I wish I would have spent less time loving, trusting, and committing to others".
The older generation are no better than us in regards to enjoying life without sadness, loneliness, and so on ... and as such are not a reliable source to draw inspiration from.
> I get the feeling if you took the approach you'd describe, all you'd end up with are [...] relationships, and nothing deeper. [...] shallow is what triggers people to seek out deeper relationships, which need/require love/trust/commitment). [...] shallow [...] regretting [...] something more.
Words like "relationship" or "deeper" and "shallow" and "regretting" and "something more" are indicative of love in operation ... and questioning love means questioning those associated beliefs as well. Why is it necessary to relate to fellow humans when they are already here on this planet? Why not question the need to relate? If the ability to relate vanishes, what happens to loneliness itself?
True, but you don't get to turn back time and choose a different option if the answer you pick is wrong, no matter how sincere you are.
> The older generation are no better than us in regards to enjoying life without sadness, loneliness, and so on ... and as such are not a reliable source to draw inspiration from.
Right, but what they do have that you do not is experience. Maybe the most balanced comparison would be between an older person that followed the strategy you proposed, and one that didn't. Either way, the only chance you've got at making an informed decision with regards to EOL (which is essentially end-of-experiment), is by consulting with those who have experience, right?
> Words like "relationship" or "deeper" and "shallow" and "regretting" and "something more" are indicative of love in operation ... and questioning love means questioning those associated beliefs as well. Why is it necessary to relate to fellow humans when they are already here on this planet? Why not question the need to relate? If the ability to relate vanishes, what happens to loneliness itself?
If that's true then wouldn't "enjoying company" be indicative of love in operation? If you removed the ability to relate to another human, how could you possibly enjoy being in the presence/interacting with another human? Do you have any examples of a being/thing you couldn't relate to that you enjoyed interacting with?
Perhaps there has been a misunderstanding. Questioning love = paying sincere attention to one's own feelings as they go about their daily life without necessarily changing the conditions of it (such as quitting one's family and eagerly trekking to the East for some meditative drug experience), and asking oneself why one is not having fun (if one is indeed not having fun).
> Right, but what they do have that you do not is experience. [...] the only chance you've got at making an informed decision with regards to EOL (which is essentially end-of-experiment), is by consulting with those who have experience, right?
My intent is in regards to leading an enjoyable life and not making informed decisions (to whatever factor) per se. Reading biographies of people of older generation, or looking at sociological or anthropological studies sufficiently demonstrate that the older generation are no better than us in regards to enjoying life without sadness, loneliness, and so on (to the contrary, they often held love as a sacrosanct and consequently suffered its shortcomings) ... and as such are not a reliable source to draw inspiration from.
> wouldn't "enjoying company" be indicative of love in operation?
Do you have memories of having fun playing in the school playground, or at a carnival, as a child?
> If you removed the ability to relate to another human, how could you possibly enjoy being in the presence/interacting with another human? Do you have any examples of a being/thing you couldn't relate to that you enjoyed interacting with?
Yes, I have childhood memories of having fun playing with fellow children, and as far as I can remember it required little "relating". Lately as an adult in early 30s I do occasionally experience (mostly as an unintentional result of near-constant awareness of deeper feelings) such spontaneous moments of having fun with people, or on my own, which leads to the increased confidence that life can indeed be better without love.
I think half of this statement is true. Yes, the older generation is no better than we are at living well. They're just as likely to make mistakes. However, that's the beauty of experience - you make mistakes, and you learn from them. Experience is the best teacher, in any field. You're dismissing out of hand the best resource we have to living better lives - the accrued experience of our older generations. That just seems foolish to me.
> Why is it necessary to relate to fellow humans when they are already here on this planet?
The fact that you're posting this question on a message board for other people to read,comment on, and interact with suggests that you don't believe the things you're saying.
Except I'm not talking about "living better lives." The "better lives" wisdom of older generation usually means "make the best of it [with love, of course]."
Whereas I'm talking about questioning love itself. What is life like without love and the associated feelings/beliefs? I'm interested in a perfect live; a life full of enjoyment - and the older generations have nothing to offer in that regard (to the contrary, they favour love and as such tacitly prevent any questioning into it).
>> Why is it necessary to relate to fellow humans when they are already here on this planet?
> The fact that you're posting this question on a message board for other people to read,comment on, and interact with suggests that you don't believe the things you're saying.
The word "relate" is used in its affective context, stemming from hardwaresofton's use of shallow/ deeper relationships. Thus for clarity I'd rephrase that question as: Why is it necessary to feel a relationship/ connection/ bond with fellow humans when they are already here on this planet?
I'm quite, if not fully, confident that love is a hindrance.
I think this is one thing that older generations have context for that younger ones (before becoming parents) can simply be unaware of. I know, I became a parent within the last year and it has changed my thinking on many things.
Even if we tried to live a life without love, I don't know that it's possible. Individually perhaps, but not as a strategy to have the human species continue to go forward. Empathy is something that healthy brains do naturally, and is really useful to keep a tribe or a society going (could even be required). This goes back to keeping children alive; when parents can't or won't, the tribe steps in.
Perhaps the modern world can make love obsolete; I hope that isn't the case. I think our minds have evolved to live in a pre-modern era. Until we fundamentally change our biochemistry, I'm pretty sure we'll have to make do with it (along with it being a hindrance).
Global thermonuclear warfare.
This might make intuitive sense for many. But people aren't really good at empathy towards their earlier or future selves. People generally wish their past selves had worked and suffered more to make their present self better off. IOW made tradeoffs that would benefit your present self at the expense of your past self. A person on their deathbed will appreciate archievement and richness of experience in their past life disproportionately in relation to comfort, balanced life etc.
For some excellent insights about cognitive biases people have in thinking about their happiness, read this book: https://www.randomhouse.com/kvpa/gilbert/
(This is not to recommend you shy away from love or trust or commitment! Just a methodology point.)
It depends. From reading random biographies and quotes of famous people, it seems to me that the people we (as a society) most admire were the ones who had success in things bigger than just their relationships. Yes, they often regret screwing up the latter, but then again people tend to regret the things they didn't get right. People who had successful family life tend to regret missed opportunities, etc.
That perspective may change in me as I grow older, and it's probably also a product of my particular upbringing, but looking into myself now I feel like I would be disappointed with life focused on finding True Love, starting a family and dying a grandfather. It feels so... empty. Focusing just on yourself, on your family, when there are billions of people all around you, the whole humanity on this great planet. A grand possible future and so many problems on the road to it.
I know I would like to die knowing I helped everyone as much as I could, that my life had a positive impact on the development of human race. True Love would be a cool addition to that. And I would also like to see space at least once. But more than happy family life I would like to die knowing that some strangers, who don't even know me, are happier because I was here.
Nothing in this world is stable. Your boss will fire you if you cant perform. Your friends may move away or change. Some will try to use you, but even the best ones will never care about you the way your partner will. Its an anchor in the storm of life.
There are probably many many authors who can wax poetic about this stuff better than me though, so I'll stop now.
> There are probably many many authors who can wax poetic about this stuff better than me though, so I'll stop now.
Yes ... all those sad love songs come to my mind. Why do we cling to sadness instead of simply enjoying life?
I guess it ultimately comes down to a persons belief systems and emotions at that point, far beyond the reach of mere logical arguments. We are animals first, thinking human beings second (this is the topic of one my favorite songs, Apeman- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aRHqs8SffDo)
People just love, it's a thing that human animals do. Questioning love is like questioning your elbows, or that you sneeze. It's part of being human.
> grab complete control over their emotions and keep them in check
This is what is wrong with the concept of Vulcans (when applied to human goals). Controlling emotions and keeping them in check (which is what most healthy normal humans already do to various extent anyway) is not the same as having them not arise in the first place.
That's up to you. Nobody can force you to love them, and you can always choose to walk away from potential loves.
Most of the replies to your post seem to be telling you that love is worth it. I think that is overly simplistic - we are not all the same. Some people find love, some don't. Some people who do find it, make it last, some don't. Some people who do find it resent it, some people who don't find it resent not having found it.
I don't think one size fits all, and I think people should try to make choices that fulfil them, whether that means prioritising work, or friends or family or exploration or wine tasting.
In particular, to those who suggest that love is an evolutionary advantage, I partially disagree. Or at least I think that is simply one facet of our species - one of our key strengths is diversity of being. We have the people who must go out and explore and discover. We have the people who must stay home and build families and societies. Only by having all of these things have we been able to expand across the planet and achieve everything we have. If everyone chose love over work, there are lots of things we wouldn't have invented/discovered. If everyone chose work over love, we'd be a much smaller species, etc, etc.
Also, the feeling of love (be it romantic or filial or whatever) doesn't last, and is not stable; people who profess that are usually the ones who have arrived at some kind of compromise. Right in this very thread you will find someone who redefined love to be an "act."
Above all, no matter what one's lifestyle preference is - love hurts. So why the reluctance to question love itself? Why the continued investment in boasting the superiority of love (all that sad love songs have a tinge of sanctimony to them)?
In short: I don't think it's reasonable to treat love as though it were an emotion. Love is an act. Practice it. Do it. Do it well and with joy. But don't treat it like it's the same thing as happiness; it isn't.
It is great to have a partner that contemplates these matters!
> In short: I don't think it's reasonable to treat love as though it were an emotion.
Love is most certainly a feeling. Just for the sake of clarity, here is the dictionary definition:
1 an intense feeling of deep affection: babies fill parents with intense feelings of love | their love for their country.
• a deep romantic or sexual attachment to someone: it was love at first sight | they were both in love with her | we were slowly falling in love.
• (Love)a personified figure of love, often represented as Cupid.
• a great interest and pleasure in something: his love for football | we share a love of music.
• affectionate greetings conveyed to someone on one's behalf.
• a formula for ending an affectionate letter: take care, lots of love, Judy.
The key words in that definition are "feeling", "attachment", "affectionate".
> Love is an act. Practice it. Do it. Do it well and with joy. But don't treat it like it's the same thing as happiness; it isn't.
If love is a feeling, what is the nature of this act that you practice well with joy? If love, or the act, is not happiness - why feel/practice it in the first place?
What about joie de vivre ("a cheerful enjoyment of life; an exultation of spirit.")?
Establishing the agreed-upon definition for words used in communication is a sensible thing. Otherwise everybody is free to interpret things however they want (such as my correspondent, jMyles, treating love as an "act") leading to communication being rendered ineffective.
> You're stuck in language.
No (language is merely a tool; it is not possible to be "stuck" on it unless you have an emotional hold). However it would seem that as you find establishing the agreed-upon definition to be useless it may well be the case that you are stuck in less useful one-liner responses (especially going by your comment history).
As it is not possible to be "stuck" on language (which is but a tool) unless one has an emotional hold, and as you are not privy to my every thought/feeling day in and day out (other than what I convey via explicit communication), the word of the day after reading your nonsensical pithy assertions is: fatuous. Here it is, fully defined, for the sake of clarity:
silly and pointless: a fatuous comment.
> If you find yourself grabbing a dictionary because you need to establish with your "correspondent" that you're talking about the same thing when you say "love", you have a problem.
Quite the contrary; the very fact that you have vested interest in maintaining nebulous communication (via redefining words to suite one's fancy, such as my correspondent above treating such a deeper feeling of love to be an act, thereby invalidating the sensible investigations around it) indicates to me that all the problem is being projected from the other side.
One of the many benefits of paying sincere attention to one's feelings is that it makes it very easy to sift through what is one's own feeling versus what is being projected by others. You will have a hard time performing your modus-operandi with me.
I agree that appealing to the authority of Webster on the question, "what is love?" is capricious and demeaning.
To reconstruct my point, I meant that, for example, when you say, "I love you," make 'love' a verb in the present tense in your mind. Love willingness and with abandon.
Notice, by the by, that the way that we use the word "love" in casual conversation is often as a verb, not a noun. You never say, "I happiness you" <=- that syntax doesn't make sense for a feeling. And love isn't one.
I submit that the impetus to misconstrue a beautiful act as an emotion is mostly a commercial one.
Does it have this to be this complicated for you? I have been being as considerate as I can of human suffering while engaging with my fellow humans being here asking them why they are so reluctant to question an emotion/feeling that brings so much pain, as is evident from Jesse's post, all throughout human history.
Most people have no qualms with seeing love as a feeling, especially while they mourn in the death bed of their love one, or grief over the loss/rejection of their love object. These feelings are real; they are not merely "thoughts" or "acts". Suffering is a feeling experience.
When you redefine such a core emotion/feeling to be an act, it renders all conversation around it void. From here then there are only two courses of actions: cease conversing, or establish a common ground of understanding before proceeding. I find it somewhat odd that you seem to grasp that a "feeling is not the word itself" (implied from the linked YouTube video) and yet have trouble seeing a feeling as ... a feeling.
Feelings are not thoughts. Feelings are not behavioural acts.
I experienced no "sudden and unaccountable changes of mood or behaviour" (which is what capricious means) or intended to demean anyone - as my responses have been no more than a simple pointing out of the above fact.
On the other hand I have random strangers on the internet making uncivil and pretentious remarks such as "You don't understand. You're actually stuck. You can't see it because you're stuck." ... all because I question a cherished feeling?
> To reconstruct my point, I meant that, for example, when you say, "I love you," make 'love' a verb in the present tense in your mind. Love willingness and with abandon. Notice, by the by, that the way that we use the word "love" in casual conversation is often as a verb, not a noun. You never say, "I happiness you" <=- that syntax doesn't make sense for a feeling. And love isn't one. I submit that the impetus to misconstrue a beautiful act as an emotion is mostly a commercial one.
Have you not ever felt, for example, affection (a gentle feeling of fondness or liking) towards someone without necessarily involving any behavioural act or thought? Have you not ever grieved over the loss of someone you loved?
There is nothing wrong with them per se. What I feel is wrong is our perceptions and expectations of them. Then, to add fuel to the fire, people benchmark their lives based on how much of these "resources" they have.
People can't even show respect for the dignity of other people and allow them to be themselves. To do so makes many people feel that they are invalidated in life as they so obsessively struggle at a breakneck speed to secure their sense of self-worth.
Even something as daring to be big is such a huge problem. Look at entrepreneurs and think about all the arguments presented about what it takes to be a successful one. How many are portrayed as "eccentric".
So imagine trying to question something like love... it's like questioning a religion, only much worse...
Questioning love is not the same as blaming it. There is no right or wrong in the realm of animalistic feelings; no matter how much of a good perception/expectation you have of the underlying feelings of love, it ends up in dissapointment one way or the other. Why is this underlying feeling considered sacrosanct? If we can question religion, surely it is time to question the sacrosanct feelings?
Yes. So is family, friends, ...
> Instead of loving and getting heart broken when the associated people depart from one's lives
I think to experience the joy of it, you have to fall in love, that means being exposed and risking getting hurt. It's the other side of the coin so to speak.
> why are people reluctant to question love itself? (it is always one person or the other's fault, but never love's fault; why?).
Because it is boring, I think. Talking about love is boring, experiencing it is exiting.
Pick something you really enjoy, maybe a favorite food. Analyzing it and talking about its ingredients is boring. Tasting it is where it's at.
Questioning love = paying attention to your own feelings, and questioning their validity. Why do children seem to be having innocent fun until puberty sets in after which the now-adult human forgets all about that childhood joie de vivre (a cheerful enjoyment of life; an exultation of spirit) and sets about to religiously believing in a second-rate life (a pathetic cocktail of joy and hurt) centered on love?
Because it is the typical path of being a human being. If adults were going around having innocent fun after puberty there wouldn't be human beings now.
> (a pathetic cocktail of joy and hurt) centered on love?
It is different and personal of course. But I wouldn't want to live a life that didn't have that. It would boring and un-exciting.
> now-adult human forgets all about that childhood joie de vivre (a cheerful enjoyment of life; an exultation of spirit)
Not all is lost ;-) you can still find that when you have your own children! When I play with my kid, I am a kid again. We make paper airplanes, play with dolls, play tag and so on.
And I belive you get one more chance, when your children have their children!
I think depending on the perspective life can be very exciting (but even writing that in words sounds trite and boring).
My confidence about love's failures comes from not only my own feelings, but also observing others.
> You in another decade may feel differently, and any other person will of course have different value judgements and desires.
I'm yet to come across someone who have demonstrated that love works ... and by "work" I mean it being an one-hundred percent fun way to go about life.
Love is something that happens during life, it's part of it, inside it.
Yes, and it is quite evident that people are reluctant to question love.
> but personally, I am by default suspicious/hesitent of indulging in love, yet I regret most of the times I haven't.
Being suspicious/ hesitant of love is not quite the same thing as sincerely paying attention to it as and when it arises. Being suspicious/ hesitant is, at its core, a fear reaction (freeze-flight response) - and leads to withdrawal, albeit with desire suppressed deep down until it re-appears as regret.
> I feel like love colors the world and our experiences to be more vibrant and meaningful than otherwise.
Like a drug, when love wears off it makes the world appear "boring" and "unexciting" and "[less] vibrant" and "[less] meaningful". Art is often an exemplification of these withdrawal symptoms.
When you put it like that, it sounds more like a hobby. It's not worth it to "fall in love" if those are your primary goals.
> enjoy the company of people (without love, trust and the concomitant sadness, resentment)
Without mutual trust, you can't have much interaction beyond small-talk. (Yes, even purely intellectual discussions require it, especially once there's disagreement.)
Don't go for "love", as portrayed in mainstream media. Go for understanding the other, particularly when it feels hard to do so.
Generally speaking when I am having fun, life is very very easy.
Don't you have memories of not having fun with some fellow child because you did not "trust" him/her?
As opposed to what? The question's very similar to "is humanity even worth saving?" which has the same response.
(But I'm looking forward to maybe making it to the time when we can arbitrarily rewrite and explore permutations of our mind architecture. I'd predict transhumans will find something much more worthwhile than love as understood by the best of us normal humans.)
Decades ago it was considered normal to kill and get killed in a duel.
It doesn't even have to be a strong emotional event; you can find various points in Jesse's posts that are indicative of love, such as the "dull ache":
> Each time I see a happy couple talking in a coffee shop or a “normal family” playing, it feels like a dull ache.
First, why is a trust based, long-term commitment of love good?
People, generally speaking, like stability. It's why we make commitments. Commitment is good for society, and without it we wouldn't be able to make plans. I think it's difficult for people to "just enjoy the company of people" because if you do that without expecting them to stick around, you're living on the edge of chaos.
How can I run a business if I don't trust that my employees will show up for work? How can I play tennis on Thursdays if I don't trust the other club members to be there? How can a child survive if her parents aren't committed to feeding her?
The feelings of love, are there to help bind us to our commitments.
Really, "love" is too broad a term, so let's be more specific and look at romantic relationships e.g. marriage.
Traditionally, your marriage should be the most stable relationship you have in your life. It is a commitment between two people to support each other emotionally, to raise children together, to share finances, and live domestically. This is highly beneficial, as it makes it so you don't have to worry about as much stuff, because you can divide the labour between two people. I watch the kids, while she gets groceries. She pays the bills while I'm at work, she massages my back, after I make supper etc. Marriage is a serious commitment, the kind of commitment you don't make with just anybody.
Marriage, and indeed love in many other forms, is an exceptionally practical thing. It might be fair to speculate that humans evolved to seek out a love relationship because having a stable family is just so practical. Some research suggests married couples live longer, which might be because of the practical benefits of stability and splitting the work, thus reducing stress and increasing productivity.
If you want to live without marriage or "love" then go right ahead, but if that research is true than life will probably be harder.
As for heart break...well it makes sense. Because marriage is so practical, losing that relationship will make life harder, so we don't want to do that. Sure you can find another relationship, but that takes time and effort, and it means having to build another relationship. As an analogy, I will be sad if my house burns down because all the time and money I spent in building and filling the house is gone, and I must start again. Sure, there's opportunity there as well, but it doesn't lessen the loss.
Feeling negative emotions isn't a bad thing either, it's part of what makes us human, and avoiding love because you want to avoid pain is honestly absurd.
As for "why is it never love's fault?"
Well love isn't a thing. You can't go out in the world and find love, because love doesn't exist without people. Love is an adjective that can be used to succinctly describe two peoples feelings towards each other, and those feelings they have are a result of their actions. People make love (whether sexual or not) through their actions. If a marriage falls apart it's because one person stops loving the other, not because Cupid decided to go get his arrows.