Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Does love exist?

Your mom exists

45 comments:

dean elazab said...

excuse me but have you been in love?
i love god, case settled.

Ehren said...

I thinks its important to distinguish between the questions "does love exist?" and "is love necesary to life?" I think from a strictly scientific standpoint, love isn't "necesary." There is nothing in our DNA that says we need to love as well as eat, breath and sleep in order to survive.

Aaron Nussdorf said...
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Aaron Nussdorf said...
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Aaron Nussdorf said...

well...emotions are highly subjective. if love doesnt exist, then are anger, rage, happiness, depression, and other things like that false? i will submit that subjective elements are real to those who have experienced them and not real to those who havent.

also on the note of things being subjective: we can all agree that a red rose is red. but each person's pair of eyes will see a different shade of red, and that discrepancy can be measured objectively. depression causes a physical change in brain chemistry. though emotions are nothing more than a cascade of neurotransmitters, the chemistry changes and a physical response occurs. emotions are highly subjective.

moving to a more realist example, i think that love has changed from age to age. dean's comment about courtly love as a construct can become a very interesting discussion: is courtly love a transition from greek (homosexually orientated) love to a "modern" (heterosexually focused) love? is love purely physical or have an emotional dimension?

puddlewonderful said...

you being in love
will tell who softly asks in love,

am i separated from your body smile brain hands merely
to become the jumping puppets of a dream? oh i mean:
entirely having in my careful how
careful arms created this at length
inexcusable, this inexplicable pleasure-you go from several
persons: believe me that strangers arrive
when i have kissed you into a memory
slowly, oh seriously
-that since and if you disappear

solemnly
myselves
ask "life, the question how do i drink dream smile

and how do i prefer this face to another and
why do i weep eat sleep-what does the whole intend"
they wonder. oh and they cry "to be, being, that i am alive
this absurd fraction in its lowest terms
with everything cancelled
but shadows
-what does it all come down to? love? Love
if you like and i like,for the reason that i
hate people and lean out of this window is love,love
and the reason that i laugh and breathe is oh love and the reason
that i do not fall into this street is love."

- e. e. cummings

tmichals said...

Like Ehren said, there is definitely a difference between love existing (Andrew's argument) and being vital to life (Michelle's argument). Naturally everyone is allowed to their own opinions and have had different experiences which have affected these opinions. In my belief, love definitely does exist. When Andrew states that love does not truly exist are you saying that there is no such thing as affection? And are you simply referring to being "in love"? Because, according to Wikipedia (YES IT'S CORRECT!), as people fall in love the brain actually releases chemicals to stimulate pleasures and happiness. But as Ms. Scandurro said today in class, love is not necessary to reproduction because all it takes technically is two people willing to have sex... which clearly we all know isn't always a product of love.

puddlewonderful said...

I did not mean simply that love was necessary to reproduction-- I am not that naive. I only meant to suggest that those chemicals in the brain, which, yes, do biologically exist, have evolved out of some necessity.

Here's a hypothetical: Caveman Ha needs offspring to "succeed" biologically. He can get those offspring by having productive sex with cavewoman Fa. Note that once may not be enough-- for best results, they should be having sex regularly for a long period of time to ensure that she becomes pregnant. Ha has sex with Fa, and she conceives, but that's not enough. He needs to care for Fa when she's pregnant, defend her from beasts, and feed her, especially once her condition is such that she cannot provide those things for herself (also, it is true, women are the--physically--weaker sex). But let's say the child is born. Well, he could steal it and drop Fa-- but first, he needs her to nurse it. Okay, now it's a toddler-- can he steal it and leave her to the tigers? Well, he could. But it might be difficult for him to fend for the child, feed it, and watch it all at once. It is therefore necessary that he keep Fa as a wife or consort, to care for his child while he is hunting or gathering plants. What if he keeps it 'til it's in adolescence, and ready to accompany him on the hunt. He could abandon Fa then-- but what if his child dies? He needs back ups. He needs several children, as many as possible, to be biologically successful-- and likewise for her.

It might be difficult for him to give food to her and her child even though he would sleep hungry at night, or throw himself in the path of a tiger as it approached their cave. Gee, wouldn't it be great if some sort of nearly irrational, binding feeling developed between to the two cavepeople that kept them together through their troubles, so that they would really be likely produce viable offspring-- perhaps many of them?

Hmm... There it is! Love. Solves the problem nicely.

stephen gieger said...

I agree with the concept that love insn't necessary for procreation, however, I do not agree with the concept that was mentioned in class that all other animals do not exress lovable relations towards each other. All animals portray instinctive abilities to protect their mates and offspring. Although some animals have large offspring because some inevitable die, they still potray a loving relationship to all of them.

Aaron Nussdorf said...

using stephen's example, then, love or at least the emotional attachement with another being may be necessary for procreation

El Paco said...

Michelle - your example would have been pretty good if something like that actually happened. As it turns out, though, nothing like that ever did happen. Have you ever heard of something called the "Alpha Male?" You know, the male that pretty much runs the tribe and has sex with not just one, but all of the females? And of course you know that the alpha male would kill any other male that had sex with one of the alpha male's mates. Just to make my point clear, one of his multiple mates. That's how humans evolved; that's how they got to where they are today. Why would it suddenly change when our societies became slightly more advanced?

Humans, and all primates for that matter, are not meant to only have one mate. I'm not saying that infatuation doesn't exist, because it does - that's what the chemical changes in the body are - but "romantic love" is nothing more than people exaggerating their infatuation.

Snoop Nuzzy Nuzz - sorry, but saying that you can't know that something doesn't exist until you've experienced it is the dumbest argument ever. Ever.

And Taylor and Ehren, I wasn't saying that love isn't "necessary" (which it isn't); I'm saying that love doesn't exist.

El Paco said...

Michelle - I hate poetry - especially love poetry

puddlewonderful said...
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Aaron Nussdorf said...

but wise, it is an arguement nonetheless. you failled to adress the fact that certain brain chemistry changes can be measured objectively. and, objectively, interactions can be documented.

El Paco said...

Read it again. I did address that

Aaron Nussdorf said...

good lord! your arguement is iron-clad. i still have trouble agreeing with it; i would like to believe that humans are better than reproduction machines.

can you address depression and anger? are those emotions real? by the way, what do you mean by "real"?

El Paco said...

Well with anger I assume (I say assume because I honestly don't know for a fact) that it's a type of aggression. Without aggression, we wouldn't be ruthless enough to go out and kill a deer for food. Some might argue that hunger is what drives people to find food, so I'll use another example. If someone or something attacks you (in nature, that is), you need to be aggressive and fight back, otherwise you'd die. So aggression/anger stems from the instinct of survival.

You make a good point with depression, though. I can't explain that one - maybe someone else can. I'd do some research but I'm too lazy and I figure John will look something up on Wikipedia. I know what you're saying though, and I'm not trying to upset anyone. I consider myself a realist with a hint of cynicism. I'm just trying to figure out how we have all these traits like "love" when no other animal related to us evolutionarily does - and the only conclusion that I've been able to come to is that we simply don't have these traits, that things like "love" were invented by a society or religion that, like Snoop Nuzzy Nuzz, believed, or wanted to believe, that we are more than just procreation machines.

And now to clarify my argument about the chemicals that your brain emits when you're "in love." Your brain emits the same chemicals (if chemicals is the proper word) when you're simply infatuated with someone, or if you "have a crush" on that person. Someone's going to say, "I wouldn't die for someone I only had a crush on." My response is that people are stupid and make rash decisions - sorry if that explanation doesn't please you - I'll think of another one later (I'm not very good at making arguments on the spot. Give me a day or two). My point is that I don't believe that there's a difference between infatuation and love. Don't ask me for or provide me with specific examples (unless you use Romeo and Juliet - then I'll totally prove why their "love wasn't real at all), because I don't feel like getting personal - especially on a humanities blog.

El Paco said...

Oh man, I made that one too long. Now no one's going to read it.

tmichals said...

But like Michelle said in class one day, humans are also the only animals who are capable of doing math and learning like we do. So therefor just because other animals may not love to the extent that we do does not mean that it does not exist... in my opinion.

Dean Elazab said...

You are right andrew, no one will read yours. but i agree with your statement about the alpha males. animal societies as well as early humans were not loving, but a culture of dominance and treachery. These cultures show the emotions of fear and treachery. These animals would wait for the opportune moment to take power, but they did not show love for one another.

JP said...

dean said...
animal societies as well as early humans were not loving, but a culture of dominance and treachery. These cultures show the emotions of fear and treachery. These animals would wait for the opportune moment to take power, but they did not show love for one another.


If by "early humans" you mean "all human beings, ever"... yeah, I just broke up with a lying girlfriend and I'm bitter.

As for the question "Does love exist?" I'm not going to get into that one, because it's a question with no definitive answer.

All I'm going to say is that if you believe it exists, then it exists for you, and nobody is in a position to tell you otherwise - just like if you say "I'm cold" nobody can fairly tell you "No you're not!"

And if you don't believe it exists, then good for you... because you're preemptively saving yourself from a lot of heartache and headache.

Aaron Nussdorf said...

wise, can you define "real" please? and by rejecting love, are rejecting the existance of all other emotions?
i read your respoce along with John's, and i think, for all intensie purposes, those who believe that love is real and those who dont believe it's real are both right: since emotions are so subjective each person will have a unique responce. each person can accept or reject the exitance of love and other emotions.

El Paco said...

We're not the only animals capable of doing math; we're the only animals capable of communicating the math that we've done. I remember an example Dr. Lesley used in 9th grade biology. Someone dropped a jar (lid screwed on and everything)and a jellyfish took about a minute to get it open. The next time he dropped in the jar, the jellyfish took only 10 seconds to get it open, and the next time only took 5 seconds (which is extremely fast, especially considering that jellyfish don't have opposable thumbs). I consider that learning as fast, if not, faster than humans.

Snoop - I totally did address anger in that last post.

Aaron Nussdorf said...

you have NOT defined "real." and can address some more emotions, please?

El Paco said...

Real means it does exist. Like when I say something like, "you're not even real," I'm saying that you don't exist. I'll address the other emotions later tonight

stephen gieger said...

I think it is difficult for anyone to argue with any certainty the concept of a feeling like love considering that feelings are an individual thing. However, the concept of love regarding Tristan and Iseult is the fact that their love was not natural but spawned from a potion. The idea to focus on is the issue that a love affair of this sort could not occur in midieval culture without the assistance of a magical potion.

Aaron Nussdorf said...

does their love spawning from a potion any less real for tristram and iseult, for them at any rate?

Caroline said...

I think that their feelings are certainly real after they drink the potion. Whether their love was artificially "created" or not, how they feel about each other is quite obvious throughout the story.

El Paco said...

Yeah...I didn't really intend for this thread to have anything to do with Tristan and Iseult

Ehren said...

John - I totally agree with what you said about love earlier. Love exists because people say it does.
If a person says they are in love than who is to tell them that they are not? If someone does tell them that their love does not exist, then what stops them from saying that their sadness or happiness does not exist?

puddlewonderful said...

I was going to say something similar to what John said, but not half so lucid. Well, my thoughts weren't quite in the same vein, so I'll elaborate.

If society invents love, what's to say they didn't create it? By implanting that notion into the collective consciousness and world view of humanity, they made many of its members feel that emotion, and act on it. If you feel something and you act on it, then it's real to you. And then it's real to everyone else, too-- because they're seeing it you feel it and watching what you do because of it, and they exist with it. If I hit you with a baseball bat, and before you didn't believe in baseball bats, but you just felt a baseball bat hit you, well, it has to exist, doesn't it? You can deny it all you want and make excuses, but obviously it exists.

And then, if as Andrew says it was a way to deceive ourselves into thinking we aren't procreation machines, well, haven't we made ourselves otherwise? Look at people today. There are couples who "love" and have no children. There are people who never are interested in procreating, and sometimes even sex (although I guess that's not many, especially if we want to make Freudian assumptions). But even among those couples who have sex but not children, they are often devoted to other pursuits-- like medical research or education. Are they not making themselves more than procreation machines, contributing to more than just the brute continuation of the race, but the betterment of it for all its members?

Also, what interests me is that-- as far as I know-- all societies since the history of time have had some notion of love (note that it has been different-- Plato and his contemporaries/those he influenced believed that the purest love was between two men, today it seems that it is heterosexual, although the notion is changing for many to be simply between two humans, regardless of gender). So when was this notion invented, if indeed as Andrew believes it was invented?

I think, at the moment our society evolved to include concepts such as love, and dedication to things other than self-preservation and baby-making, was the moment we became what we now define as "human"-- when we distinguished ourselves from other animals, who did not possess notions such as love.

Oh, and Dean-- I read Andrew's post. Some of us care enough to bother to read what others take the time to write-- generally they have something pretty interesting to say.

El Paco said...

Agree to disagree?

Michelle said...

Sure.

JP said...

el paco said...
Agree to disagree?

puddlewonderful said...
Sure.

jp said...
As for the question "Does love exist?" I'm not going to get into that one, because it's a question with no definitive answer.


So they've tallied the votes, and it turns out that I'm always right.

puddlewonderful said...

I think most of the stuff we discuss in humanities has no definitive answer, John...

joel derby said...

I agreee, this is one of those answers where it is all interpretation of one's own feelings. If it is just scientific that doesn't necesarilly make love real or fake. And if there is only infatuation, where is the line between infatuation and love?

Aaron Nussdorf said...

i think that wise was saying that love is a sugarcoated form of infatuation, or, in other words, physical attarction, period. i believe that love has its physical dementions with a deeper emotional connection; this can range from sexual to platonic love

Caroline said...

I agree with Aaron. Although some relationships might begin with infatuation or pure physical attraction, love has both physical and emotional elements.

Manal said...

I think that the concept of romantic love has in fact evolved. At first, societies mostly would not marry for love but rather seek a spouse based upon social stature, class, and money. Arranged marriages also were common and couples later might say they loved each other but it wouldn't be the love at first sight sort of thing. People can grow into love in a sense that they reach understanding and get attached and some would claim they'd sacrifice their life for the other. The validity of their comment can not be proven. The love between Romeo and Juliet seems highly unlikely, however I agree that no one can tell another what the emotion they are feeling is. Today, the idea of falling in love and marrying for love is more common.

michelle scandurro said...

"Snoop Nuzzy Nuzz - sorry, but saying that you can't know that something doesn't exist until you've experienced it is the dumbest argument ever. Ever. "

ANDREW: I'm going to say this nicely. Please refrain from using the word "dumb" when referring to someone else's argument.

JP said...

puddlewonderful said...
I think most of the stuff we discuss in humanities has no definitive answer, John...


This is true. But love is a whole lot harder to discuss without delving into conjecture, personal opinion, and difficult-to-reproduce science.

Caroline said...

I think Manal makes a really good point. I think her point can also be seen in the increase in divorce in recent years. Divorce used to not be acceptable because people married for convenience and social status, however, now divorce is extremely common and socially accepted. (I think like most first marriages have 50% "success rate").

Mr. Plainview said...

Okay, well I guess I've gotten to this one a bit late. But it's never too late for love, right? Nyuk.
So does love exist? Obviously this is a complex question with countless answers. I will admit I've not read any of the previous posts. This is my own personal opinion, uninfluenced by those of my honorable peers.
Yes, love most certainly exists. Now, I do think love may mean different things for different people, and there are certainly many kinds of love. First of all, it's hard not to love your parents. It just seems to happen that way. We may get angry at them, but they always remain our parents. Though I'm not a parent yet, I imagine there must be a strong bond to the child. I don't want to talk about this too long, because I believe everyone has a general knowledge of this love and what it means.
It is when we consider the other forms of love that the definition and ideals become less obvious. Now when someone says they love food or baseball or board games, I do not consider this real love. These are things one enjoys. Well, I suppose food is an essential, but one doesn't love food. One eats food to stay alive.
In my mind love is something you stumble across when you're not looking for it. But when you find it, you know it's right because it makes you happier than anything else in the world. And you just have to be yourself.
I would go on, but I don't think it has to be any more complicated than that. Sorry. I do hope that doesn't sound too hokey. But that's what love means to me.

Aaron Nussdorf said...

Mr. Plainview, your eloquence abounds.

Margaret said...

Actually, I don't believe everyone who says that he/she is in love, is in fact, in love. I'm not clear on what I mean by all of this, but I probably won't figure it out any time soon.

All I know is that I know what I feel. I have a head that can distinguish between what I really feel and what my body wants me to believe. And thank God for that. Lots of kids our age will be duped by their bodies into thinking they're in love because of the chemicals sent to your brain. It may be love, it may not be. I'm not even sure how you'd define it.

Also, I think everyone was talking about different kinds of love.

John - Sorry to hear that, even though you're probably over it by now.

Andrew - It was an octopus.