Tuesday, July 10, 2007


Love, Ordinariness and the Hysteresis loop

Is it an excellence in your love that it can love only the extraordinary, the rare? If it were love’s merit to love the extraordinary, then God would be — if I dare say so — perplexed, for to Him the extraordinary does not exist at all. The merit of being able to love only the extraordinary is therefore more like an accusation, not against the extraordinary, nor against love, but against the love which can love only the extraordinary. Perfection in the object is not perfection in the love. Erotic love is determined by the object; friendship is determined by the object; only love of one’s neighbor is determined by love. Therefore genuine love is recognizable by this, that its object is without any of the more definite qualifications of difference, which means that this love is recognizable only by love-- Søren Kierkegaard

Ideal World

Kierkegaard says that love, in its purest form, should not depend on the excellence of the object in question. To justify this he (who btw is also a theoligian) uses the accepted theological fact that 'god loves all' in his arguments. I agree with Kierkegaard and I also believe that ideally, love should not be a function of the object's charecterestics.

Let me give you another reasoning for this. Suppose a person A claims that he/she 'loves' B because B posesses some quality x. Now I ask, if suddenly B loses this quality x, will A stop 'loving' B?

case 1: No, A does not stop loving B

Then clearly the quality 'x' is not important and A is 'capable' of loving any person even if that person may not posess the quality 'x'.

case 2: Yes, A stops loving B after B loses 'x'

The clearly A does not love B, he/she only loves 'x' in B.


Based on the above I think it is possible to categorize different kinds of love, in decreasing order of the quality of love:

1. Unconditionally loving every person in the world: I think this is what people mean by 'love your neighbour' - i.e loving all people we encounter. Since true love is not a function of the object's charecterestics, true love implies that one should love everybody.

2. Love between child and the Parents, siblings: In all these cases, love just exists due to the relationships; it does not depend on the charecterestics of the people. In other words, we do not pick and choose our parents, yet we love them. If we were to replace our parents with people with a different set of charecterestics, we would still love them.

3. Friendship, Erotic love : In these relationships the 'love' exists because we gain some physical, emotional or intellectual benefit.

Practical World

In the practical world, it is not possible categorize love into clear-cut subdivisions. For example, consider two friends. The driving force of the 'love' between the two friends might be the intellectual pleasure they derive by interacting with each other. Supposing, suddenly one of the friends develops amnesia (or some other mental deficiency), because of which the two friends can no longer interact with each other and gain the same kind of pleasure as before. But this may not prevent them from interacting with each other. In other words, 'love' between them does not terminate as soon as one of them develops amnesia.

I think in the practical world, the charecterestics of the object does play a part in love. So, consider a person A and for the him/her let X be the defining set of charecterestics that love is a function of. In other words, the love of A towards any B is proportional to the amount of X contained in B. But supposing due to the passage of time, B loses some of the charecterectics that made A love B, i.e X in B decreases, the love of A towards B does not exactly follow the curve backwards. This phenomenon is not unlike magnetic hysteresis. It is a phenomenon in which a metal is magnetized when a magnetic field is applied to it and alternatively gets demagnetized when the field is removed. But interestingly, when the magnetic field is reduced, the demagnetization does not follow magnetization curve. In some sense, it resists the process of demagnetization and consequently the magnetization/demagnetization curve is actually a loop.

The analogous resistance exhibited to stop loving, when the apparent 'reason' for love ceases to exist is commonly referred as "commitment". Commitment is one of the situations in which love in the practical world tries to attain the ideal. In my opinion, the area enclosed by this loop is measure of the quality of the love.

I just thought it was an ordinary post where you state the obvious and claim credit for it :) But then I hit upon this 'commitment' thing. Bang on!
guess Madhu of 'dear committed orkutters' fame should ponder this. committed = hanging on though I wud rather quit!
Impressive analysis.

I may be mistaken, but I think philosophy (e.g. Hindu and Buddhist) perhaps goes one step further. If you love a person only because of X, then you don't really love that person. You don't really love X either. You simply love the positive feel X does to your mind. That is everything is a product of your mind.

So I guess in essence practically most of us are in love with ourselves ;)

"I just thought it was an ordinary post where you state the obvious and claim credit for it"

thats what it still is. remember, nothing is extraordinary in His eyes :)


I totally agree with what you say.

"So I guess in essence practically most of us are in love with ourselves "

Good point.

In fact I think one can define A's (genuine) love towards B as a situation in which A does not view B as a different entity.

Thus genuine love can be considered as the process in which one does not distinguish himself/herself from the others...a common idea in hinduism. (moksha etc.)
interesting post.
the definition of love itself is not clear to me - i think its clear in the case of 'things' its def. bcos of the X characteristic u say.
for eg: when u say "i love painting" - u definitely love bcos of some X characteristic in painting, prob if this X goes, u will lose ur love for painting.
in the case of humans, X is more like a stimulant.it initially starts with X characteristic and creates all these bias in ur mind which causes love and then over a period of time,the bias and love becomes disconnected due to watever reason of human nature like u say.
even with parents its starts with this X characteristic (the characteristic is not distinguishably clear, maybe their being our parents itself is the X characterisitc).
For the prupose of this post, I have assumed the following definition of love (as you can find in the previous comment) :

"I think one can define A's (genuine) love towards B as a situation in which A does not view B as a different entity".

I think when somebody says "I love painting", it is not love according to above definiton.

In fact, (borrowing from arunk's comment )I can say that the person just loves the positive feel painting does to his/her mind.
> "I think one can define A's
> (genuine) love towards B as a
> situation in which A does not
> view B as a different entity".
A loves B(and not everybody else), so there is something in B which causes A to love. considering B as same entity is just extreme love. i.e when A loves B be "so much". By this definition of love,Im quite sure atleast 99.99% of people dont love anybody in this world. I would define love as something similar to , "extreme liking, that you are willing to sacrifice some of ur own interests for it"

> In fact, (borrowing from arunk's
> comment)I can say that the
> person just loves the positive
> feel painting does to
> his/her mind.

*everything* one does in life is based on this alone. interests/love/hate/sorrow etc etc
guess we overrate love too much. i.e, we expect it to be so perfect (genuine). its just one of those feelings like happiness and sorrow. If you extend the argument to happiness, how/what do we call happiness - i.e something which is genuine happiness. i havent experienced happiness so-far which is non-pleasuristic or non-materialsitic.
what can i say except "adangu da"!
advice solraen:
love all the people you want here, soon you will be in bharathiraja's karisalkaadu in riverside.


onnoda advicea desert forest firela kolutha!
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