“Every atom in your body came from a star that exploded. And, the atoms in your left hand probably came from a different star than your right hand. It really is the most poetic thing I know about physics: You are all stardust. You couldn’t be here if stars hadn’t exploded, because the elements - the carbon, nitrogen, oxygen, iron, all the things that matter for evolution and for life - weren’t created at the beginning of time. They were created in the nuclear furnaces of stars, and the only way for them to get into your body is if those stars were kind enough to explode. So, forget Jesus. The stars died so that you could be here today.”—Lawrence Krauss (via crystal-flowers)
The philosophical discussion regarding love logically begins with questions concerning its nature. This implies that love has a “nature,” a proposition that some may oppose arguing that love is conceptually irrational, in the sense that it cannot be described in rational or meaningful propositions. For such critics, who are presenting a metaphysical and epistemological argument, love may be an ejection of emotions that defy rational examination; on the other hand, some languages, such as Papuan, do not even admit the concept, which negates the possibility of a philosophical examination. In English, the word “love,” which is derived from Germanic forms of the Sanskrit lubh (desire), is broadly defined and hence imprecise, which generates first order problems of definition and meaning, which are resolved to some extent by the reference to the Greek terms, eros, philia, and agape.
The term eros (Greek erasthai) is used to refer to that part of love constituting a passionate, intense desire for something; it is often referred to as a sexual desire, hence the modern notion of “erotic” (Greekerotikos). In Plato‘s writings however, eros is held to be a common desire that seeks transcendental beauty-the particular beauty of an individual reminds us of true beauty that exists in the world of Forms or Ideas (Phaedrus 249E: “he who loves the beautiful is called a lover because he partakes of it.” Trans. Jowett). The Platonic-Socratic position maintains that the love we generate for beauty on this earth can never be truly satisfied until we die; but in the meantime we should aspire beyond the particular stimulating image in front of us to the contemplation of beauty in itself.
The implication of the Platonic theory of eros is that ideal beauty, which is reflected in the particular images of beauty we find, becomes interchangeable across people and things, ideas, and art: to love is to love the Platonic form of beauty-not a particular individual, but the element they posses of true (Ideal) beauty. Reciprocity is not necessary to Plato’s view of love, for the desire is for the object (of Beauty), than for, say, the company of another and shared values and pursuits.
Many in the Platonic vein of philosophy hold that love is an intrinsically higher value than appetitive or physical desire. Physical desire, they note, is held in common with the animal kingdom. Hence, it is of a lower order of reaction and stimulus than a rationally induced love—that is, a love produced by rational discourse and exploration of ideas, which in turn defines the pursuit of Ideal beauty. Accordingly, the physical love of an object, an idea, or a person in itself is not a proper form of love, love being a reflection of that part of the object, idea, or person, that partakes in Ideal beauty.
In contrast to the desiring and passionate yearning of eros, philia entails a fondness and appreciation of the other. For the Greeks, the term philia incorporated not just friendship, but also loyalties to family andpolis-one’s political community, job, or discipline. Philia for another may be motivated, as Aristotleexplains in the Nicomachean Ethics, Book VIII, for the agent’s sake or for the other’s own sake. The motivational distinctions are derived from love for another because the friendship is wholly useful as in the case of business contacts, or because their character and values are pleasing (with the implication that if those attractive habits change, so too does the friendship), or for the other in who they are in themselves, regardless of one’s interests in the matter. The English concept of friendship roughly captures Aristotle’s notion of philia, as he writes: “things that cause friendship are: doing kindnesses; doing them unasked; and not proclaiming the fact when they are done” (Rhetoric, II. 4, trans. Rhys Roberts).
Aristotle elaborates on the kinds of things we seek in proper friendship, suggesting that the proper basis for philia is objective: those who share our dispositions, who bear no grudges, who seek what we do, who are temperate, and just, who admire us appropriately as we admire them, and so on. Philia could not emanate from those who are quarrelsome, gossips, aggressive in manner and personality, who are unjust, and so on. The best characters, it follows, may produce the best kind of friendship and hence love: indeed, how to be a good character worthy of philia is the theme of the Nicomachaen Ethics. The most rational man is he who would be the happiest, and he, therefore, who is capable of the best form of friendship, which between two “who are good, and alike in virtue” is rare (NE, VIII.4 trans. Ross). We can surmise that love between such equals-Aristotle’s rational and happy men-would be perfect, with circles of diminishing quality for those who are morally removed from the best. He characterizes such love as “a sort of excess of feeling”. (NE, VIII.6)
Friendships of a lesser quality may also be based on the pleasure or utility that is derived from another’s company. A business friendship is based on utility–on mutual reciprocity of similar business interests; once the business is at an end, then the friendship dissolves. This is similar to those friendships based on the pleasure that is derived from the other’s company, which is not a pleasure enjoyed for whom the other person is in himself, but in the flow of pleasure from his actions or humour.
The first condition for the highest form of Aristotelian love is that a man loves himself. Without an egoistic basis, he cannot extend sympathy and affection to others (NE, IX.8). Such self-love is not hedonistic, or glorified, depending on the pursuit of immediate pleasures or the adulation of the crowd, it is instead a reflection of his pursuit of the noble and virtuous, which culminate in the pursuit of the reflective life. Friendship with others is required “since his purpose is to contemplate worthy actions… to live pleasantly… sharing in discussion and thought” as is appropriate for the virtuous man and his friend (NE, IX.9). The morally virtuous man deserves in turn the love of those below him; he is not obliged to give an equal love in return, which implies that the Aristotelian concept of love is elitist or perfectionist: “In all friendships implying inequality the love also should be proportional, i.e. the better should be more loved than he loves.” (NE, VIII, 7,). Reciprocity, although not necessarily equal, is a condition of Aristotelian love and friendship, although parental love can involve a one-sided fondness.
Agape refers to the paternal love of God for man and of man for God but is extended to include a brotherly love for all humanity. (The Hebrew ahev has a slightly wider semantic range than agape).Agape arguably draws on elements from both eros and philia in that it seeks a perfect kind of love that is at once a fondness, a transcending of the particular, and a passion without the necessity of reciprocity. The concept is expanded on in the Judaic-Christian tradition of loving God: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your might” (Deuteronomy 6:5) and loving “thy neighbour as thyself” (Leviticus 19:18). The love of God requires absolute devotion that is reminiscent of Plato’s love of Beauty (and Christian translators of Plato such as St. Augustine employed the connections), which involves an erotic passion, awe, and desire that transcends earthly cares and obstacles. Aquinas, on the other hand, picked up on the Aristotelian theories of friendship and love to proclaim God as the most rational being and hence the most deserving of one’s love, respect, and considerations.
The universalist command to “love thy neighbor as thyself” refers the subject to those surrounding him, whom he should love unilaterally if necessary. The command employs the logic of mutual reciprocity, and hints at an Aristotelian basis that the subject should love himself in some appropriate manner: for awkward results would ensue if he loved himself in a particularly inappropriate, perverted manner! (Philosophers can debate the nature of “self-love” implied in this-from the Aristotelian notion that self-love is necessary for any kind of interpersonal love, to the condemnation of egoism and the impoverished examples that pride and self-glorification from which to base one’s love of another. St. Augustine relinquishes the debate–he claims that no command is needed for a man to love himself (De bono viduitatis, xxi.) Analogous to the logic of “it is better to give than to receive”, the universalism of agaperequires an initial invocation from someone: in a reversal of the Aristotelian position, the onus for the Christian is on the morally superior to extend love to others. Nonetheless, the command also entails an egalitarian love-hence the Christian code to “love thy enemies” (Matthew 5:44-45). Such love transcends any perfectionist or aristocratic notions that some are (or should be) more loveable than others. Agapefinds echoes in the ethics of Kant and Kierkegaard, who assert the moral importance of giving impartial respect or love to another person qua human being in the abstract.
However, loving one’s neighbor impartially (James 2:9) invokes serious ethical concerns, especially if the neighbor ostensibly does not warrant love. Debate thus begins on what elements of a neighbor’s conduct should be included in agape, and which should be excluded. Early Christians asked whether the principle applied only to disciples of Christ or to all. The impartialists won the debate asserting that the neighbor’s humanity provides the primary condition of being loved; nonetheless his actions may require a second order of criticisms, for the logic of brotherly love implies that it is a moral improvement on brotherly hate. For metaphysical dualists, loving the soul rather than the neighbor’s body or deeds provides a useful escape clause-or in turn the justification for penalizing the other’s body for sin and moral transgressions, while releasing the proper object of love-the soul-from its secular torments. For Christian pacifists, “turning the other cheek” to aggression and violence implies a hope that the aggressor will eventually learn to comprehend the higher values of peace, forgiveness, and a love for humanity.
The universalism of agape runs counter to the partialism of Aristotle and poses a variety of ethical implications. Aquinas admits a partialism in love towards those we are related while maintaining that we should be charitable to all, whereas others such as Kierkegaard insist on impartiality. Recently, Hugh LaFallotte (1991) has noted that to love those one is partial towards is not necessarily a negation of the impartiality principle, for impartialism could admit loving those closer to one as an impartial principle, and, employing Aristotle’s conception of self-love, iterates that loving others requires an intimacy that can only be gained from being partially intimate. Others would claim that the concept of universal love, of loving all equally, is not only impracticable, but logically empty-Aristotle, for example, argues: “One cannot be a friend to many people in the sense of having friendship of the perfect type with them, just as one cannot be in love with many people at once (for love is a sort of excess of feeling, and it is the nature of such only to be felt towards one person)” (NE, VIII.6).
“there’s a person who makes me feel things i shouldn’t and my heart does things i was pretty sure it had forgotten how to do. and i almost feel like a regular person. i almost feel like a real human being. a human with emotions who belongs in the world. my heart is wooden. you can chop it in half with an axe or use it for kindling if you’re lost in the woods. i don’t suggest trying to handle it though. you’ll get all kinds of nasty splinters and pieces of heart-wood stuck in your hands. wedge its way between muscle and dermis. it’s just looking for a place to stay.”—etorphine.tumblr.com
Story has shown you all felt alone. Story has shown you all felt alone. Even if… if the sound it makes when it’s tightening, Sweet winding up of a mandolin hurts your fingers
And you try to hold on but it’s not quite working. This reminds me of the sound you make when we disagree.
Story has shown you all felt alone. Story has shown you all felt alone. Even if you’ve been so close you’re not alone anymore, Still we grow. Still we grow. Even if it reminds the sounds you always used to make.
“At some point, a part of you dies. You don’t question your self-destructive actions anymore. You already realized that you are spiraling out of control. At this moment, it defines your very existence, there is no chance of distancing yourself. It is impossible to attain a perspective when you live under a leaden blanket.”—sickly-thin: (via howtovisualizeyourweakness)
“If a tree falls in a forest
& if we make our dining
room chairs out of its freight
& if we were meant to haul
it, haul that behemoth tree
the way one hauls faith,
debt, imagination, a car
from a slushed-over ditch
& if the tree is older
than we are, older than our entire
life separately or added together
& if we put the tree back
into the ground in our yard,
a Christmas come in June
& if we were to unspool gold
ribbons through its lower branches
& name these soft rememberancers
& no one, not a single
person is around to hear that”—Epithalamium, Carolina Ebeid (via grammatolatry)
“I crave your mouth, your voice, your hair.
Silent and starving, I prowl through the streets.
Bread does not nourish me, dawn disrupts me, all day
I hunt for the liquid measure of your steps.”—Pablo Neruda (via explaterate)
finally come to the conclusion on how incredibly sad I am. Not only depressed, but really just SAD. I cannot begin to express how uncomfortable I am all the time. Yet I’m always so dramatic. I explode easily. I’m so full of everything and anything destructive. I need self healing.