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What defines the word "love"? Show more Show less

Few words in the English language convey such a range of meanings as the word "love". For many, love is the point of existence, for others it's the manifestation of the divine, for some it is a tool of oppression. No subject has spawned so much poetry. But what is love? Is it an animalistic urge, a mystical aspiration, a social construct, a neurological glitch, or nothing at all?

Love is a societal tool Show more Show less

Love is an artificial construct which oppresses women and reinforces the patriarchy.
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Falling in love is an appraisal of the other person's value

When we decide who is worthy of our love, we carry out an appraisal.
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Context

When we fall in love, we are essentially appraising the value of the other person. We weigh them up against other things or people and decide if they are of sufficient value or not.

The Argument

As people, we decide another human’s value by how well they measure up to the values we hold. For example, if we have been raised to be honest, we may perceive honesty as a trait in others that increases their value. The depth of our love corresponds to how highly we value that person. Once we deem someone to be of sufficient value, we make ourselves more vulnerable to them. The way they respond to this vulnerability will also add or detract from their value. This can explain why we have more positive attitudes towards someone that loves us. When someone loves us, we often have increased feelings of affection and warmth towards them, which can even lead to us reciprocating. This is because when someone loves us, their value to us increases. If, in the future, your partner changes, the value of your partner to you will also change. Viewing love in this way can account for love diminishing. If a partner changes in certain ways that make them less valuable, love diminishes. When we choose a partner, we are also assessing their capabilities of changing into someone with less value. If they have the capability to change into something we may not like, this is reflected in our initial appraisal. [1]

Counter arguments

If falling in love is nothing more than an appraisal of another person, why do we not feel the same feelings when we are interviewing a candidate for a job? In both cases, we are conducting an appraisal of the other individual, yet one process comes with a very distinct feeling, while the other does not. Addressing these feelings is a crucial part of defining love. Without feelings, love cannot exist (as in the case of the interviewer). Any definition of love that does not address the emotions involved cannot adequately explain the phenomenon of loving another human. Also, this description of love and the way we fall in love cannot adequately explain familial love. The unconditional love of a parent is just that, unconditional. It does not stem from an appraisal of character. This is why parents often remark how they still love their children even in instances where the child has committed mass murder. This demonstrates better than anything that love cannot be reduced to an appraisal but relies on an emotional connection. [2]

Framing

Premises

[P1] We decide who is worthy of our love by appraising their value. [P2] Therefore, love can be reduced to the value we perceive in another human.

Rejecting the premises

[Rejecting P1] An appraisal is not the only component of deciding who to love. There are also emotional elements that need addressing.

Proponents

Further Reading

References

  1. https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/love/
  2. http://www.mit.edu/~shaslang/mprg/KolodnyLVR.pdf

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This page was last edited on Tuesday, 11 Feb 2020 at 11:46 UTC