A Theory on Love II

October 20, 2012

I’ve drawn a diagram to explain my belief about Selective Love.

In my last post on love I differentiated between what I call Selective and Unparticular loves. The latter is a general love for people, from recognizing each has an existence of her own, potential of her own, life of her own. It is Unparticular because it does not differentiate between particular people, and is almost if not completely unbiased. The Selective love is what people speak about when they say they love their friend, mother, sibling, lover. It doesn’t love everyone the same, and it probably doesn’t love everyone. It loves based on criteria: because he is funny, because she is friendly, because he is my father, because she is eccentric.

I don’t believe this Selective love exists in the sense commonly believed. There is no direct connection between two people. There is only a relationship between a person and his love for another and vice versa–more accurately, between a person and what he perceives in another and loves.

In everything a person does, he produces externals. His actions, words, mannerisms, habits, and other characteristics make up the external things another perceives from the outside. But the other never sees the person himself directly: he can only perceive what happens as a result of what’s internal. Whether an external produced by the person within is automatic or deliberated over, conscious or unconscious, intentional or not, honest or not, it is the expression of the self within causing them.

The black dots in the diagram represent the internal self as an agent (someone making choices). The arrow reiterates the “how” of the “why” a person creates the externals he does. It represents the act of expressing oneself. The person produces external characteristics as represented by the yellow circles. Of course, internals and externals exist separately for every person regardless of whether we have free will or are, as the modern scientists claim, intricately automated organisms–great collections of interactions between molecules and chemicals bouncing off each other like billiard balls, putting on a grand scale illusion of personhood.*  So this first part is common sense and true for determinism and free will alike. The rest of what I say only makes sense through the assumption that a human is a being who makes choices, not a automaton.

The diagram is simplified by showing one person, the lover, loving another person, the beloved. The arrow represents a person’s directly experienced perception of another person’s externals.** The arrow comes from the self because the lover directly experiences, and reaches the external sphere of characteristics of the beloved but not the beloved itself. In other words, the person never experiences the other, only its external expressions.

The arrow looping back represents how a person reflexively empathizes with a person’s expressions. In other words, it is inaccurate to say you can empathize with another person. You never actually experience another’s thoughts or feelings; their subjective experience is hidden. Rather, in perceiving by words, art, body language, and other externals their expression, you are presented with ideas and emotions as they express them and encounter them in yourself. Even in experiencing sorrow as you watch another in sorrow, you experience it in your own way. Your past, thought process, and feeling process bring about personal associations with sorrow and define it.

In addition to reflexive empathy is the other’s interpretation of the person. When another person attempts to interpret and motives and the like–because she never sees motive, which is why it is a guessing game–upon either accidentally betraying her opinion of you to you or telling you outright, she offers an explanation for your actions which you bring back to yourself and consider. This is how two people can potentially help each other in self-development. If each questions the motives of the other, and the other confronts them in himself, he can be held accountable for his lack of self-knowledge, whether self-deceiving or simple ignorance. In the words of my friend Maria: ” in our attempt to really know others we are helping them to truly know themselves.”

It is easy, especially in trying to figure out another person, to believe by default that you do know that person. You can make confident guesses as to the “why” and the “how”, but seeing only the “what”, the externals, the effect–the cause remains invisible. With the realization that one is isolated within, relationships take on a new meaning. In interacting with a person you encounter a work of art. There’s good art and shit art, but the externals you experience are a biproduct of the person within. Realizing this brings to light one’s responsibility. Whether or not you like it, you have a mask, and it plays roles in other people’s lives as theirs do in your own. They experience your externals while you experience theirs. Yet in uninhibited interaction, you can help another to understand himself as he does the same for you.

*Let it slide that for us to be fooled into thinking we have selves, we had to interpret these things within us as being selves. To interpret implies intelligence and judgement. “We interpret incorrectly”–who interprets incorrectly? There is no “I”, so I can’t be misinterpreting myself as having a self. Who is doing this false interpretation?

**I don’t differentiate between our sensations themselves and our perception of them; for this diagram all that matters is the self experiencing those perceptions.

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