Friday, 23 December 2011

The Nature of Love

Love, being defined as “affection” for another person, be it on a romantic, familial or friendly level, is a core emotion for us as human beings. Love is what makes human interaction possible, with the most core of connections between two people being that of friendship, a link which itself is made possible through some degree of affectionate love. With love being so core to us as human beings, and taking into account that we, being human, have the continuous desire to question everything around us, we are compelled to as the question what is the nature of love.

Though I am sure that one could write an entire thesis on the nature of this very issue, that would not exactly be within the nature of this blog. Therefore, I am going to simply make a claim about love and then support my claim through reasoned argument. Normally I am not overly fond of having these little sections in which I spell out clearly what I aim to do within an entry, but within this post I feel that it is better to faultlessly clarify what it is that I intend to do.

My claim about the nature of love is this: Love is always good and, therefore, we cannot have Love which is evil.

I feel from the outset that we must distinguish between several things, for clarity’s sake.

Firstly, I am not suggesting that people who we could consider to be evil cannot love, only that, should these people genuinely experience love or affection for another human being (not altogether impossible or unlikely), the capacity to feel such an emotion arises from the good within them. For within all people is the capacity for good and evil.

Secondly, we must separate the emotion of love and actions attributed to it. Love is inherently good, whereas actions explained through love can be considered to be anything but! I am implored to give the example of someone committing an act as terrible as the murder of an innocent human being and then claiming that this terrible action is justified as it was inspired by love.

Therefore, the pure emotion of love has innate value, for it is purely good. However, it could be argued, from a consequentialist point of view, that love, like anything else, must be judged on the effects that it has and not on its own nature. Therefore, it can be argued that, as we have many examples of love driving people into committing acts of evil, that love itself must be evil. Yet, my response to this is simply the question: Is the motivating emotion truly love?

If we take the example of a fanatic that stalks one of the high-flyers of celebrity culture and, after having been ignored or rejected so many times, eventually snaps and does something extreme (a primary example would be killing the very celebrity they had been “in love” with), we can safely argue that what the fanatic feels is not love but obsession.

It is important that we make clear what love actually is. Love is an ultimate form of selflessness, in which an individual is prepared to make sacrifices for the gain of another individual. Love is not a bargain, nor some cost-reward scheme but a purely selfless emotion. Love is not primarily sexual (though a sexual side is certainly involved in many romantic relationships), for that would degrade it into a base lust.

Love is ultimate good.


  1. My comment is a little hard to put into words, but I'll do my best...
    I would say that love is not a "thing" to be good or to be bad, rather love is a state, and not good or bad in itself, but the result of good or bad. Thus; the logical conclusion is that love isn't good, but love is the result of some good facet to a person.
    Looking at it this way; rather than the most evil person in the world having a little good because of love, they love because there is a kernel of goodness within them that "responds", if this is makes sense, to another.

  2. In response to Longeye, I would argue that Love is Good. This is reached using Leibniz's Law of the Indiscernibility of Indiscernibles, which states that if A shares all of Bs qualities then A = B. It is my view that Love is present in every action that is good and that Love and Good are one in the same.