Image of Dying for love - immature vs. mature love

How do I love thee? Let me count the ways. At least six...

For some things in life, there are objective standards (e.g., what constitutes your right hand from your left hand). For other concepts, like romantic love, it appears that anything goes. The nature of humans is to love, but the conditions for which constitute romantic love are as varied as our personalities. The Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy counts six different ways of considering love: through epistemology, metaphysics, religion, human nature, politics and ethics.

Although we can likely all agree that love is an emotion of great intensity, opinions about love abound. Expressions of love aren't in short supply and appear from extreme to extreme: from tenderness to passion, gentleness to roughness, weakness to strength, surrender to possessiveness, irrationality to logic, sacrificial to trade, selflessness to selfishness, and the like.

The dramas of some stories provide great fodder to compare and contrast the nature of love. For example, consider Shakespeare's famous love tragedy Romeo and Juliet with Ayn Rand's famous novels The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged.

With the backdrop of a petty feud between two families, Romeo was first in love with Rosaline, swearing that he could love no other. Then he falls in love with Juliet, someone who he doesn't even know, based solely upon seeing her. They are married almost immediately. Their love appears to be based on nothing more than physical appearance. To Shakespeare, love is a matter of the heart and fate.

Contrast Shakespeare's depictions of love with those of Rand. In Ayn Rand's novels, love is portrayed through trading of values, selfish pleasure, rape, violent sex, strength, and objective rationality. To Rand, love is a matter of the mind and causality.

What is the nature of love? What is the difference between loving a person and loving their qualities (such as physical beauty)? How much does beauty play a part in who you love? If someone is able to change the object of their love so quickly or easily, is that really love? Is dying for love "worthy?" When you love someone, do you transfer some part of your autonomy from "I" to "we?" What are the differences between mature and immature love?

Romeo and Juliet (summary)

The play begins with a large fight between the Capulets and the Montagues, two prestigious families in Verona, Italy. These families have been fighting for quite some time, and the Prince declares that their next public brawl will be punished by death. When the fight is over, Romeo's cousin Benvolio tries to cheer him of his melancholy. Romeo reveals that he is in love with a woman named Rosaline, but she has chosen to live a life of chastity. Romeo and Benvolio are accidentally invited to their enemy's party; Benvolio convinces Romeo to go.

At the party, Romeo locks eyes with a young woman named Juliet. They instantly fall in love, but they do not realize that their families are mortal enemies. When they realize each other's identities, they are devastated, but they cannot help the way that they feel. Romeo sneaks into Juliet's yard after the party and proclaims his love for her. She returns his sentiments and the two decide to marry. The next day, Romeo and Juliet are married by Friar Lawrence; an event witnessed by Juliet's Nurse and Romeo's loyal servant, Balthasar. They plan to meet in Juliet's chambers that night.

Romeo visits his best friend Mercutio and his cousin Benvolio but his good mood is curtailed. Juliet's cousin, Tybalt, starts a verbal quarrel with Romeo, which soon turns into a duel with Mercutio. Romeo tries to stop the fight but it is too late: Tybalt kills Mercutio. Romeo, enraged, retaliates by killing Tybalt. Once Romeo realizes the consequences of his actions, he hides at Friar Lawrence's cell.

Friar Lawrence informs Romeo that he has been banished from Verona and will be killed if he stays. The Friar suggests Romeo spend the night with Juliet, then leave for Mantua in the morning. He tells Romeo that he will attempt to settle the Capulet and Montague dispute so Romeo can later return to a united family. Romeo takes his advice, spending one night with Juliet before fleeing Verona.

Juliet's mother, completely unaware of her daughter's secret marriage to Romeo, informs Juliet that she will marry a man named Paris in a few days. Juliet, outraged, refuses to comply. Her parents tell her that she must marry Paris and the Nurse agrees with them. Juliet asks Friar Lawrence for advice, insisting she would rather die than marry Paris. Fr. Lawrence gives Juliet a potion which will make her appear dead and tells her to take it the night before the wedding. He promises to send word to Romeo - intending the two lovers be reunited in the Capulet vault.

Juliet drinks the potion and everybody assumes that she is dead - including Balthasar, who immediately tells Romeo. Friar Lawrence's letter fails to reach Romeo, so he assumes that his wife is dead. He rushes to Juliet's tomb and, in deep grief, drinks a vial of poison. Moments later, Juliet wakes to find Romeo dead and kills herself due to grief. Once the families discover what happened, they finally end their bitter feud. Thus the youngsters' deaths bring the families together. Romeo And Juliet is a true tragedy in the literary sense because the families gather sufficient self-knowledge to correct their behaviour but not until it is too late to save the situation.

-- vs. --

Philosophy and Sense of Life (Chapter 2) of Ayn Rand's The Romantic Manifesto

There are two aspects of man's existence which are the special province and expression of his sense of life: love and art.

I am referring to romantic love, in the serious meaning of that term-as distinguished from the superficial infatuations of those whose sense of life is devoid of any consistent values, i.e., of any lasting emotions other than fear. Love is a response of values. It is with a person's sense of life that one falls in love-with that essential sum, that fundamental stand or way of facing existence, which is the essence of a personality. One falls in love with the embodiment of the values that formed a person's character, which are reflected in his widest goals or smallest gestures, which create the style of his soul-the individual style of a unique, unrepeatable, irreplaceable consciousness. It is one's own sense of life that acts as the selector, and responds to what it recognizes as one's own basic values in the person of another. It is not a matter of professed convictions (though these are not irrelevant); it is a matter of much more profound, conscious and subconscious harmony.

Many errors and tragic disillusionments are possible in this process of emotional recognition, since a sense of life, by itself, is not a reliable cognitive guide. And if there are degrees of evil, then one of the most evil consequences of mysticism-in terms of human suffering-is the belief that love is a matter of "the heart," not the mind, that love is an emotion independent of reason, that love is blind and impervious to the power of philosophy. Love is the expression of philosophy-of a subconscious philosophical sum-and, perhaps, no other aspect of human existence needs the conscious power of philosophy quite so desperately. When that power is called upon to verify and support an emotional appraisal, when love is a conscious integration of reason and emotion, of mind and values, then-and only then-it is the greatest reward of man's life.

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That Romeo and Juliet in 60 seconds video just makes me want to face palm.

As for love, I've never been a love at first sight kind of person (even though I have such an admiration for beauty). I would like a better understanding of this whole "chemistry" idea. So many women indicate how important chemistry is. The only logical way I can interpret it is as an amalgamation of different values (to use Rand's terminology), somewhat like a formula that leads to meeting a minimum requirement. So, if your chemistry formula is chemistry = A (looks) B (funny) C (intelligence) D (family-oriented), suitors can score differently on each of the variables but still achieve the minimally required chemistry. But, as this is related to love, objectivity such as this is likely thrown to the wind of feelings.

Sheesh. I think I just depressed myself. Meanwhile, Cupid just did a face palm.

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About objectivism


My philosophy, in essence, is the concept of man as a heroic being, with his own happiness as the moral purpose of his life, with productive achievement as his noblest activity, and reason as his only absolute.

My philosophy, Objectivism, holds that:

  1. Reality exists as an objective absolute—facts are facts, independent of man’s feelings, wishes, hopes or fears.
  2. Reason (the faculty which identifies and integrates the material provided by man’s senses) is man’s only means of perceiving reality, his only source of knowledge, his only guide to action, and his basic means of survival.
  3. Man—every man—is an end in himself, not the means to the ends of others. He must exist for his own sake, neither sacrificing himself to others nor sacrificing others to himself. The pursuit of his own rational self-interest and of his own happiness is the highest moral purpose of his life.
  4. The ideal political-economic system is laissez-faire capitalism. It is a system where men deal with one another, not as victims and executioners, nor as masters and slaves, but as traders, by free, voluntary exchange to mutual benefit. It is a system where no man may obtain any values from others by resorting to physical force, and no man may initiate the use of physical force against others. The government acts only as a policeman that protects man’s rights; it uses physical force only in retaliation and only against those who initiate its use, such as criminals or foreign invaders. In a system of full capitalism, there should be (but, historically, has not yet been) a complete separation of state and economics, in the same way and for the same reasons as the separation of state and church.

- Ayn Rand

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