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What is human love?

 
 
Reply Thu 11 Feb, 2010 07:51 pm
The lyrics of most popular songs suggest that love is mainly the desire to carry out reproductive behavior with the one that we love. Such desires are certainly emphasized by a panoply of hormonal responses. Humans also tend to love their children, and most adults find babies (and the young of many mammalian species) to be "cute" or "adorable". In the thread "Re: Why does God permit evil????", I gave an argument that hinged around this description of human "love":

1CellOfMany;123940 wrote:

Part of human knowledge of the nature of the universe is explained by the theory of Evolution, which provides a framework for explaining aspects of the anatomy, physiology, and behavior of all living beings in terms of the efficacy of those aspects for assuring the survival of the species. It can easily be shown that physical sensations of the body, which result from stimuli impinging on the sensory organs, have evolved because they (pleasurable sensations) tend to attract us towards things that are beneficial, or they (pain and other unpleasant sensations) tend to repel us from things that are detrimental. Likewise, we can show that most mammals feel compelled to intervene on behalf of a member of the same species when that other expresses pain or appears to be in peril. This is particularly true in the case of two individuals whose lives are closely conjoined, as in a familial relationship. Thus, the scientific explanation for the fact that [if one person loves another, they would gladly do (nearly) anything to prevent the ones they love from suffering], is that this is a response that has evolved because it has contributed to the survival of the species. Any reasonable person will have this tendency, will feel sympathetic pain, will do what they can to prevent or alleviate the pain of another because it is in our genes. We value this tendency and call it an expression of "love" for good reason: it preserves our species, and particularly those individual members of our species who are closest to us genetically.

So, are the feelings and actions that we call "love" nothing more than sets of behaviors and motivations than are programmed into our neurophysiology due to their efficacy in perpetuating our DNA​? If human love is more than this, then what is it?
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Jebediah
 
  1  
Reply Thu 11 Feb, 2010 08:06 pm
@1CellOfMany,
1CellOfMany;127209 wrote:

So, are the feelings and actions that we call "love" nothing more than sets of behaviors and motivations than are programmed into our neurophysiology due to their efficacy in perpetuating our DNA​? If human love is more than this, then what is it?


It is sets of behaviors and motivations etc. What do you mean by nothing more?

You can't explain the feeling to someone with talks about atoms, but so what? Most of human life has to be experienced to be understood.

What would be the implications to you about answering your question one way or the other?
Reconstructo
 
  1  
Reply Thu 11 Feb, 2010 09:16 pm
@Jebediah,
Jebediah;127216 wrote:

You can't explain the feeling to someone with talks about atoms, but so what? Most of human life has to be experienced to be understood.


I agree. Words can only function where there is common experience. Words are possibly (often?) an inferior medium for communicating feelings. I'd trust two dancers to get the point across better than an evolutionary psychologist.

I guess if its Keats or Yeats, words do an alright job. But only if a person has experienced love..
0 Replies
 
1CellOfMany
 
  1  
Reply Thu 11 Feb, 2010 10:26 pm
@Jebediah,
Jebediah;127216 wrote:
It is sets of behaviors and motivations etc. What do you mean by nothing more?

You can't explain the feeling to someone with talks about atoms, but so what? Most of human life has to be experienced to be understood.

What would be the implications to you about answering your question one way or the other?

It seems to me that people put a special value on love. As you said, it is theme and inspiration for art. But what if one comes to realize that these feelings that you think are so special are just what they are, and all this idealization of love is an attempt by one part of our brain to justify what is just a simple biological drive?

But then, some people consider love to be an end in itself, and worth suffering for, devoting one's life to, etc.

Certainly it is a major theme in Christian theology and in other spiritual writings. I have also heard it said that all forces of attraction (gravity, magnetism, the strong and the weak nuclear forces, etc.) are expressions of love in some sense. But what do you think it is, and why do you (or do you not) value it?
Jebediah
 
  1  
Reply Thu 11 Feb, 2010 10:37 pm
@1CellOfMany,
1CellOfMany;127315 wrote:
It seems to me that people put a special value on love. As you said, it theme and inspiration for art. But my question is a question of value and meaning both: If what love "is" is "a set of motivations and behaviors for promoting reproduction and species survival," then it has only extrinsic value. It's value lies only in it's efficacy at fulfilling that function. But most people consider love to be an end in itself, and worth suffering for, devoting one's life to, etc.


We do consider it to be an end in itself. Because of intrinsic behaviors, motivations, evolution, etc etc. We desire it, we like it. It's a huge part of life, so of course it is very special too us.

Quote:
Certainly it is a major theme in Christian theology and in other spiritual writings. I have also heard it said that all forces of attraction (gravity, magnetism, the strong and the weak nuclear forces, etc.) are expressions of love in some sense. But what do you think it is, and why do you (or do you not) value it?


No, only humans can love (in the way that we mean when we say love). I think it is what the definition says it is and what science tells it is, and what I've experienced of it. I value it naturally.
0 Replies
 
1CellOfMany
 
  1  
Reply Sat 13 Feb, 2010 03:27 pm
@1CellOfMany,
I thought this topic appropriate
To Valentine's Day, tomorrow's date.
It seems the way I phrased my question
Just caused folks mental indigestion.
I set out bate to start debate
By playing Devil's advocate,
But only two came to reply.
I don't suppose the rest are shy,
But love is dear, and deeper than
Mere means to grow the race of Man.
Jebediah
 
  1  
Reply Sat 13 Feb, 2010 03:33 pm
@1CellOfMany,
Being able to show how something works on a basic level doesn't devalue it. People will try to use that argument to devalue things though, so I see where you are coming from.
0 Replies
 
Twirlip
 
  1  
Reply Sat 13 Feb, 2010 09:57 pm
@1CellOfMany,
If there's a St. Valentine's Day poetic licence:
Quote:
To meet in a forum, and pass reason's test,
Our naked ideas must be decently dressed.

But must it be formal attire? Sunday best?
No glimpse of an ankle, a thigh, or a breast?
:shocked: (guess who can't sleep)
0 Replies
 
groundedspirit
 
  1  
Reply Wed 17 Feb, 2010 10:47 am
@1CellOfMany,
1CellOfMany;127315 wrote:
I have also heard it said that all forces of attraction (gravity, magnetism, the strong and the weak nuclear forces, etc.) are expressions of love in some sense. But what do you think it is, and why do you (or do you not) value it?


VERY interesting topic 1Cell,

Especially going beyond biology into the newest discoveries & theories around quantum physics. If the current theories pointing to our true 'one-ness', that we really are all nothing more than pieces of a single energetic 'whole' seem or prove valid, then you could potentially superimpose that onto the term we call 'love' as nothing more than a method of survival and/or enhancement of what is really our 'selves'.

Interesting thought...........

GS
0 Replies
 
Eudaimon
 
  1  
Reply Thu 18 Feb, 2010 06:36 am
@1CellOfMany,
1CellOfMany;127315 wrote:
It seems to me that people put a special value on love. As you said, it is theme and inspiration for art. But what if one comes to realize that these feelings that you think are so special are just what they are, and all this idealization of love is an attempt by one part of our brain to justify what is just a simple biological drive?

But then, some people consider love to be an end in itself, and worth suffering for, devoting one's life to, etc.

Certainly it is a major theme in Christian theology and in other spiritual writings. I have also heard it said that all forces of attraction (gravity, magnetism, the strong and the weak nuclear forces, etc.) are expressions of love in some sense. But what do you think it is, and why do you (or do you not) value it?

To call love a means to survival of our spicies programmed in DNA is wrong. Why? Because what I mean by love in respect to a person is all about feeling the beauty of him, which excludes all the desires and first of all the desire to have sexual intercourse. Love is all about being happy by seeing another person, not intentionally but by a chance, but sometimes and feel that extinction of desires.
That was a note. But even to it, there may be found "earthly" explanations -- in psychology.
The point is, however, that whatever explanation one my find for it, it is not important. Love is important, it is the end in itself.
My sensation of temperature of remains the same, even though I may be a specialist in biology, knowing that all that is a certain natural process. And so the love, remains love, happiness remains happiness.
0 Replies
 
Krumple
 
  1  
Reply Thu 18 Feb, 2010 07:14 am
@1CellOfMany,
I think we are in love with the concept of what we try to define love to be. But in my opinion what happens in reality is not in line with what we try to define it to be. I see this emotion as being very unstable and a root to a lot of suffering. It can create a bridge between people, but no one likes to notice that when this bridge collapses what the result tends to be. This is why I say, what it is built upon is just as unstable as any other emotion. To hold it to some higher regard is to ignore it's darker side.

I guess that is me robing the romance out of our love for love. We want to live in the clouds, who really likes reality anyways?
Eudaimon
 
  1  
Reply Wed 24 Feb, 2010 08:54 am
@Krumple,
Hey, Krumple, wilt thou allow an old comedian to say ein Paar words?
Krumple;129631 wrote:
I think we are in love with the concept of what we try to define love to be. But in my opinion what happens in reality is not in line with what we try to define it to be. I see this emotion as being very unstable and a root to a lot of suffering. It can create a bridge between people, but no one likes to notice that when this bridge collapses what the result tends to be. This is why I say, what it is built upon is just as unstable as any other emotion. To hold it to some higher regard is to ignore it's darker side.

I guess that is me robing the romance out of our love for love. We want to live in the clouds, who really likes reality anyways?

Love can be unstable, causing suffering etc. when it has egoism within. The perfect love is all about living in a state of pure happiness, when one does not want anything from another person. Even to be constantly with the loved one. Maybe sometimes, once in blue moon, meeting him is perfectly enough. Love is about feeling the beauty of the world and of the human. Its like a flame which needs a spark to start burning, but then it can burn alone, so sometimes we need someone to set this fire within us, but when this is done, it continues on its own accord.
Krumple
 
  1  
Reply Wed 24 Feb, 2010 09:15 am
@Eudaimon,
Eudaimon;131821 wrote:
Hey, Krumple, wilt thou allow an old comedian to say ein Paar words?

Love can be unstable, causing suffering etc. when it has egoism within. The perfect love is all about living in a state of pure happiness, when one does not want anything from another person. Even to be constantly with the loved one. Maybe sometimes, once in blue moon, meeting him is perfectly enough. Love is about feeling the beauty of the world and of the human. Its like a flame which needs a spark to start burning, but then it can burn alone, so sometimes we need someone to set this fire within us, but when this is done, it continues on its own accord.


Well your love-flame analogy is a little flawed. What is the fuel for love? It is a condition, and what a flame uses is a condition for it's being a flame. When that condition changes the flame is gone. Same with love, when the conditions for love are gone, love goes. The conditions for love to exist must be based off something. But this shows how unstable it is and can't be something eternal unless the condition is eternal, but never have I ever seen any condition that is eternal. It is a fantasy.
step314 phil
 
  1  
Reply Wed 24 Feb, 2010 11:46 am
@1CellOfMany,
1CellOfMany;127209 wrote:

So, are the feelings and actions that we call "love" nothing more than sets of behaviors and motivations than are programmed into our neurophysiology due to their efficacy in perpetuating our DNA​? If human love is more than this, then what is it?



It's important to be clear-headed about expressing the matter. Of course there must be evolutionary advantages to being a loving person. People don't evolve complex behaviors for no reason, and common sense reveals (many) people to be loving (in a just way) more-or-less. But it doesn't follow that the loving behaviors themselves are efficacious in perpetuating DNA. It's being the sort of person whose nature is to be (justly) loving that perpetuates one's DNA, because other loving people will sense what you are, and as a result you will be loved better, on average. Essentially by definition, the sacrifice that love entails is contrary to one's own selfish needs (to perpetuate one's DNA). But if one is the sort of person whose nature is to be (justly) loving, that can be rewarding (because it will make other justly loving people love one better) and something that one has evolved to possess, and of course if it is one's nature to be loving, that tends to cause one to be loving. People are sensitive enough that mostly people can judge whether someone is a loving person otherwise than merely be counting past loving behaviors: people like Dawkins make a mistake thinking altruism is a matter of game theory. Nor, I'd say, is altruism mostly from a generalized kin selection resulting from the people around you on average being more related to you: love is not racism or nationalism. I say that because justly loving people are sensitive enough to recognize other justly loving people, they can justly love these other justly loving people, and so people have evolved (to various extents) to be justly loving (by nature).


1CellOfMany;127209 wrote:
The lyrics of most popular songs suggest that love is mainly the desire to carry out reproductive behavior with the one that we love. Such desires are certainly emphasized by a panoply of hormonal responses. Humans also tend to love their children, and most adults find babies (and the young of many mammalian species) to be "cute" or "adorable".



As for sex, males tend to underestimate the extent to which love has to do with sex. In males, the pleasure from sex tends to be a more selfish pleasure than the pleasure from having one's children well-cared for, inasmuch as the latter pleasure is more something one's (usually beloved) spouse can also partake in, and males often (compared with females) don't care for their children. But in females, it's rather the reverse-being willing to have children with a guy without expecting any caring, time, money, etc., (as she is more likely to do if motivated by sexual pleasure than by the pleasure of having her children well-cared for) in return is very rewarding and loving to him. Sex is probably the most important way females love. There's nothing wrong with love because it can be through sex, because there is nothing wrong with sex. (Actually, I feel there is a sense in which love in males also has much to do directly with sex, because the emotions they have prior and during sex can imo have loving or unloving consequences on how the children will likely turn out, but it would take me too far afield to discuss these biological theories of mine here.)


Actually, there is good reason to view the most important love in a romantic context. As long as the most important love involves behaviors that encourage mutual children with the person beloved, if someone has been duped into (unjustly) loving someone the consequence will be extra-children by someone who was duped. In other words, deceivers may feign loving behavior to get the benefit of being loved unselfishly, but they will only be able to get extra-children from people who were tricked and who therefore are likely to be insensitive. Successful deceivers may have more children as a result of tricking someone into sex or caring, but the children will likely be insensitive. It follows that to the extent love is largely a romantic phenomenon (more precisely, involving willingness to have sex or to care for mutual children), there will be a very useful correlation in people between sensitivity and love. And sensitivity (unlike a loving nature) is easier to judge correctly directly, since reflection gives one the capacity to know oneself more easily than to know others, and one can judge how sensitive others are towards one's own nature as one understands it. It is not illogical or presupposing a belief in magic to think that people can judge a loving nature otherwise than by looking at past behavior (even if such behavior is in games designed for the purpose of testing); at the very least one can judge whether someone has a loving nature indirectly, by judging sensitivity toward one's self. And such an indirect test, to the extent it is used, has as consequence that people will very strongly have evolved to be sensitive as to character, since otherwise one will be rejected as immoral (and sensitivity, being so important in judging goodness will also be valued in its own right by justly loving people).
0 Replies
 
Eudaimon
 
  1  
Reply Thu 25 Feb, 2010 06:33 am
@Krumple,
Krumple;131824 wrote:
Well your love-flame analogy is a little flawed. What is the fuel for love? It is a condition, and what a flame uses is a condition for it's being a flame. When that condition changes the flame is gone. Same with love, when the conditions for love are gone, love goes. The conditions for love to exist must be based off something. But this shows how unstable it is and can't be something eternal unless the condition is eternal, but never have I ever seen any condition that is eternal. It is a fantasy.

I agree, my simile was flawed, as well as all similes, it can only depict one side of reality.
What thou sayest is so intellectual that I am afraid that we don't overlook reality. Naturally, as we consider ourselves as parts of physical world, there must be certain conditions. But what dost thou mean by eternal? I think, thou usest it not in the direct sense. So, the question is whether love can be life-long, right? And, of course, what its fuel is?
I doubt that we can answer these questions. And even if we could, what would it change? Thou art saying that it can bear suffering when it collapses. That's a real problem, a good object for discussion. I don't think that the thing stand in this way, because this happens only when love (if it really was) was mixed with selfishness, with the desire to somehow get pleasure from another person. But it is possible to love without selfishness, when the love is nothing but pure joy which arises from seeing the beauty of another person. It must perhaps first happen towards one particular individual, but then it can arise towards others as well. It's like ceasing to be blind.
0 Replies
 
Lily
 
  1  
Reply Thu 25 Feb, 2010 09:58 am
@1CellOfMany,
1CellOfMany;127209 wrote:

So, are the feelings and actions that we call "love" nothing more than sets of behaviors and motivations than are programmed into our neurophysiology due to their efficacy in perpetuating our DNA​? If human love is more than this, then what is it?

Either it's a survival thing, or it's something more divine. Let's say there's a higher power or something. Then love and beauty are the more divine part of everything. But, it's probably just there to make sure that we have kids:ya-think:.
0 Replies
 
HexHammer
 
  1  
Reply Wed 10 Mar, 2010 03:18 am
@1CellOfMany,
I would divide love into 2 things.

- instinct of love
- taught love

Instinct of love
Imo it roots in the flok instinct, allowing us to support a large flok by caring for the weak, and those who can't help themselfs ..etc, allowing us to build up great societies, contrary creatures which choose to live for themselfs.

- a mom will instinctly care for it's child, feeding it, sanitize it ..etc
- a father will automaticly defend the mum and the child

Above mentioned examples can deviate in strenth, to paranoid behaviour or to the opposit, the indifference ..etc, caused by psycotic distortions. This can be deviated from by either psycosis or greater knowledge of when to break with the instinct of love.

Taught Love
Taught love, is usually what the group think dictates, through morals, ethics and laws. This can be deviated from by either psycosis or greater knowledge of when to break with the group think.
0 Replies
 
awareness
 
  1  
Reply Wed 10 Mar, 2010 03:49 pm
@1CellOfMany,
Love is making a connection on a spiritual level.
0 Replies
 
 

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