Is there a thing called `love’? Is it an identifiable object in reality?.

There is but one real need of Man. It is the need to be loved and to be capable of loving others. Moreover, it is even more important that Man become cognizant of the agapic love extended to us by our Maker. Seemingly, Man has lost any conception of the experiential differences between filial, agapic, erotic, materialistic, and other forms of “love.” For this reason, the concept of “love” is one that is in need of a definition that can operate in a manner which makes divorce impossible, hatred a thing of the past, and in a way that brings an immersive sense of reality to the experiences that are said to be of “love.”

Indeed, when the term “love” is commonly used, it performs various functions and can be conveniently used in public settings. From an ontological perspective of sorts, this multifarious usage and function may very well lend itself to a coherent and objective meaning to this oft used term.

It will be accepted, for purposes of this piece, that so long as we can create statements about `love’ for usage, place the statement into public usage, and have it effectively understood by a listener or other communicatee, then the statement carries meaning and which has a truth value that can be understood by reference to corresponding experiences in the `real world’.

Simply, the term `love’ may rightfully be used as a substitute for a given set of experiences.

In fact, one might be found to say any of the following statements involving `love’:

A.) `I love my wife’ or `I love you’; B.) `I love my cat’;

C.) `I love Mozart’s Requiem‘;

D.) `I’d love to go to the park this afternoon;

E.) `I’d love to send every criminal to a labor camp’; F.) `I am in love’, or;

G.) `My love of “X” is unyielding and strong’.

Interestingly, “love”‘s usage, as elucidated above, can find its genesis in the following: a.) relations between two human lovers; b.) between a conscious human and an animal; c.) between a human and an experience; d.) between the subject and a nonmaterial desire or idea of the subject, or; e.) can be presented as an independent object or entity per se’.

In each of the above uses, the term `love’ is used in an understandable and normative way. There is also some identifiable `object’ of love in some of the propositions, whether it be an animate object as in Propositions “A” and “B” or, as an idea or experience as expressed in Propositions “C” though “E.”

However, in Proposition “F,” the term takes on an inclusive nature and quasi spatio-temporal quality in that the statement can be compared to a statement like `I am in this room’. The quasi spatio-temporal nature of the use of the term “in” seemingly lends credence to the idea that one might become `encompassed by’ or `surrounded by’ love in the same objectively real way that we might say, in spatial terms, of being “in” a forest. As well, the use of the term “am” in the phrase `I am in love’ ostensibly carries with it the temporal notion that there was a prior time that the declarant was not `in love’ (i.e., thus placing love `in’ time). With this in mind, the claim that a statement like `I am in love’ is less capable of a truth value than a proposition like `I am in a forest’ is unpersuasive. This position is more fully set forth below.

Nevertheless, in Proposition “G,” love is specifically used as an independent object and is described by adjectives. It is the uses found in Propositions “F” and “G” that are the subject of this chapter. The other examples will assist in the analysis of Propositions “F” and “G.”

The thoughts expressed herein serve to investigate the possibility that there is a corresponding object in reality to the term “love” even though we often speak of love as though it were a purely abstract or ethereal object or subjective state of mind.

If it were that `love’ carried with it only an abstract meaning, one might fall into the trap of having to always subjectively define it and would, upon mere employment of the term, fall into the realm of logical fallacy. However, common sense dictates that the common place beloved would hardly be found to be accusing his lover of equivocation, ambiguity or amphibologies when faced with the declaration that `I love you’.

In fact, it seems that the term `love’ does not have a perfect synonym and, being so, does not carry with it the possibility of being associated with anything else but that which it is understood to stand for in the ordinary course of usage as a word in language. As shown below, we come to `bump into’ manifestations of love much in the same way that we might come to experience a distinct piece of music. We only come to say that we are `in love’ when we are in the midst of those physical experiences which make for love. This notion is discussed below.

It must be acknowledged that we often use the term `love’ as though it were associated with a specifically identifiable object or set of objects in reality. Necessarily, we must examine the reasons for our usage of `love’ in this quite ordinary and understandable sense. It does not necessarily make sense to say that the word `love’ is philosophically clumsy in the same way that we might say the term `predetermined’ is. Simply stated, the term `love’ is not ordinarily used as a abstract term of art, highly technical term, or in some otherwise arcane sense.

`Love’, when used as noun in a statement, is a term very much like `freedom’, `opinion’, `falsehood’ or `success’. Each of these terms is capable of carrying with their common usage a corresponding set of observable events in reality. For example, if we were using the term `freedom’, we might very well associate this term with observable events such as a person be released from jail or a POW camp. As well, associations related to the uncaging of a bird or animal might be appropriate or we might even use it to take the place of a description of the conduct that citizens of the United States are permitted to engage in under the Constitution.

Where the difficulty arises is when we compare a statement like `Love exists’ to a statement like `God exists’. By virtue of the syntactical nature of these propositions, we might readily have to conclude that: A.) God and Love are existents; B.) Love and God are entities, and; C.) God and Love have a `quality’ of being or existence.

However, it might be claimed that this is not that same as saying that, “My cat named Nietzsche is an existent entity and has being.” Without much challenge, it can be readily said that the characteristics of the idea of a cat might be much more verifiable and correspondent to external reality. Yet, by the same token, it seems easier to say that `love’ exists much in the same way that a cat does for the reason that we seem to accept the notion that we can specifically identify instances of love. For purposes of this chapter, I shall not extend the same graciousness for the concept of `God’.

Nevertheless, I shall heretofore analyze the usage of the term `love’ and make some cursory attempts to identify its corresponding and observable characteristics in reality such to say that `love’ is a self-sufficient entity in reality and thus has the status of `being’.

As stated above, the term `love’ is often used as though it were referring, in some quasi-ontological way, to an object (i.e., My love of/for “X” or I have [a] love for “Y”). Upon introspection we find that speaking of `love’ might seem like talking about `God’, `virtue’, or the `devil’. Such terms manifest themselves as objects in our language in terms of how we speak about such ideas. Simply stated, one would not reasonably expect to touch or physically sense a `virtue’, `God’ or `devil’. Nevertheless, it does somehow make immediate sense to say that we might physically experience a thing called `love’ in the world around us.

In some sense, `love’ maybe an object in the sense that a piece of music maybe considered to be. Certainly, the proponent of a proposition like, `Mozart’s Requiem is a musical composition’ would not be expected to visually point out a thing identifiable in reality as the Requiem. Rather, he would be asked to play a recording of the musical piece or might be asked to attend a concert where it is being played. At some point in time, there would presumably be played or sung an identifiable series of musical notes or choruses which correspond to the listener’s idea of what it is to hear the Requiem and so make it publicly identifiable as such and give the term `Mozart’s Requiem‘ a function in communicative discourse.

The series and sequence of particular notes and choruses become the necessary and agreed upon conditions for the identification of particular piece of music as a unique object in reality. As well, the temporal occurrence or recordation of this particular sequence and series seemingly allows for a readily identifiable object in reality which corresponds with the idea of `Mozart’s Requiem‘ and linguistic propositions about it.

Alternatively, love, as an identifiable object, might also very well be like a university with satellite locations. One might not be able to point to any one given location or building to identify `the’ university, but would not deny the existence of `the university’ as a thing in the real world (Space & Time). Nor would it be necessarily said that the person had not `seen the university’ or that they did not `know what the university was’.

It is by coming to know the conglomerate of certain observable characteristics or identifiers, existing in space and time, that we come to know of things like Mozart’s Requiem or a university and come to accept them as uniquely identifiable things in the world. It is by this acceptance of coming to know things like a musical composition and universities that we do not deny that such things exist. With this notion in mind, some consideration should be given to what might be possible identifiers for an object known as `love’.

In terms of lexicologic definitions of the term love, one is left with word associations such as “passion,” “personal attachment,” “warmth,” “deep affection,” “concern,” “strong predilection,” “benevolent affection,” “reverent affection,” “pleasure,” “enamored,””sexualintercourse,””adore,” “worship” and other various words.

The accepted singular presence of any one of these states of mind or conditions does not allow one free rein for the use the term `love’. If the presence of any one of these states were sufficient for the use of the term `love’, then one would be left to ask why it is that one would not simply use a base term like “passion.” Rather, we seem to want to observe other public things or conduct before we are willing to say that `love can be found’ or that `they are in love’.

By way of analogy, it would not make sense to refer to the Requiem by mere reference to the words “Mors stupebit et natura . . . ,” introits or kyries, or E and G notes on a musical scale. It is only by understanding the particular series and sequence of words, choruses, rhythms, and musical notes that Mozart’s Requiem stands in place of.

Analogously, the singular use of a term like `adore’ doesn’t have the primae facie quality of being functionally synonymous to `love’ in terms of its usage: Nor do haphazard conglomerates of such terms allow for a primae facie justification for using the term `love’.

Perhaps paradoxically, it does not seem that one would be justified in saying something like, `Well, love is all of these things’. This position allows for the claim that if any one of the base terms is missing, then the term `love’ cannot be used. For whenever the element of, for example, “passion,” were missing from the event described as `love’, one would be left to come up with an alternative term since the `whole of love’ would be lacking. However, by way of former analogy, it would nonsensical to claim that Mozart’s Requiem had not been played by an orchestra and chorale merely because they had missed one note or did not sing its verses.

Word associations, even if taken together as parts of a whole, would not result in a workable and consistent use of `love’ nor could one construct a strict and consistent rule allowing for such use. It does not make sense to say that `love’ is somehow the sum of its constituents or parts. We want to say that love has its own distinct identity and has a general substance known to those who have experienced it. Certainly, propositions about one’s `love’ of an idea or desire cannot be said to be associated with “sexual intercourse” or be considered as part of what it is to be a “sweet heart.”

Further, it doesn’t seem that `love’ could be put to meaningful use unless there were some criteria or rules for such usage (i.e., `expectations’ regarding appropriate public identifiers for usage of the term). I personally accept it that: The truth of a proposition like “I love you” is dependent upon the necessary and agreed upon conditions for usage of the term `love’. If one is able to identify these conditions for proper usage, then perhaps a rule can be `discovered’ which allows for an understanding of a corresponding object to the term/idea.

In order to construct a workable rule that would allow for the consistent usage of the term `love’, one needs to consider the oft claimed notion that `love’ is subjectively defined.

In the context of interpersonal `love’ of another human being, one’s concept[ion] of `love’ may be dependent on and defined by one’s expectations about `intimate’ relationships. The usage of the term may differ in various cultures, groups, localities or religions. As well, one’s background could be rightly expected to color their usage of the term “love.” But, what are these `expectations’? They can only be the occurrence of physical manifestations of a public thing which can be mutually identified just as the Requiem might be.

One person’s usage of the phrase “love for another” depends on the ability to have honest and open communications with another which eventually result in a `comfort level’ allowing for physical contact. It may be enough that they are engaged in sexual activities in order to allow for such use. Or, it may be that a combination of the above criteria would be appropriate for one to initiate usage of the term “love.” As well, one human being merely being designated by another as `family’ is sufficient to allow for `love’s usage. (I.e., status-based bestowal).

The person who believes that earmark of love is the ability to `openly communicate’ with another would necessarily be expecting something entirely different when juxtaposed to the person who bases their conception of love on sexual intimacy. The person whose usage depends on a designation of `family’ would necessarily expect something quite different.

For the `communications person’, a length of time may be needed before the usage of the term “love” may be applied. For another, mere biological activity (sexual stimulus and response) would be a sufficient criterion for such usage. One is expecting a comfort level in communication; The other merely expects physical sensation. Yet, the person requiring a designation of `family membership’ may only expect the birth or adoption of another.

In terms of each human’s usage, it must be recognized that there exists a definable series of physical events and observable items in the external world which are used as identifiers for a situation in which the term `love’ might find appropriate usage.

It is of no import that, two persons might have their own agreed upon conditions for its usage. The mere fact that both parties can find something within the scope of public discourse, which acts as an identifier of something deemed `love’, gives credence to the notion that there is a thing called `love’ in the public world.

Certainly, the mere fact that another person and I could come up with a new `code word’ for identifying and conveying a sense of the mutual experience of hearing the Requiem, would not change the fact that a given series of musical notes, choruses, and related events had existed in the public world and rendered itself capable of our recognition and having the ability to be made a part of that which is public. Moreover, it is only by the experience of hearing the Requiem that we come to know `what it truly is’. In this spirit, I claim that we can only come to know `what love is’ by experiencing whatever it is that we come to talk about as `love’. Fulfilling our God-given destiny requires that we actually develop an attitude toward love that will bring us to it