Sunday, January 6, 2013

IDHEF - Chapter 5, Addendum #2: Define "Love"

This is part of my breakdown of the book "I Don't Have Enough Faith to Be an Atheist." Related posts can be found by clicking here.

   For this Addendum, I want to cover in more detail the idea of love. I feel I covered this topic as much as necessary in the original analysis, so these are just additional thoughts on the topic for those who are interested. The ideas come from a post from another blog on the very topic. Part of what this post addresses is a common pitfall that atheists fall into when talking about love. That pitfall is oversimplifying love as a state of the brain. Proudly, I did not step into that pitfall! As I had said in my original analysis:
Now, once again, there is real material phenomena that produces things like love, hate, cold, etc, but that phenomena is more complex than the subjective terms used to describe said phenomena. So how much does love weigh? It'd be tough to determine, but I find it likely to be less than the weight of the person experiencing love. Just because love is a complex phenomena that is difficult to break down and explain in material terms does not mean that it is not the result of materials.

   The post that I am highlighting here goes into more detail on what, exactly, love is. The answer, in part, is that there is no exact thing as love.
Love is misunderstood, because it is behavior, and no two people have the same experience with the fuzzy class of behavior we call love. There are those whose examples of love have always been accompanied by abuse; there are those whose examples are idealized past the point of attainment; there are those for whom love is closest to a deep friendship, and those for whom it is closest to insanity. Cultures differ in their view of love, as we should expect.
This is a very important point to remember about love. I love my wife. I love my parents. I love my dogs. But in each of these cases, the word "love" means something different. There are more similarities, which is why I can get away with using the same word, but it is ridiculous for the authors of IDHEF to ask "How much does love weight?" (p129) when "love" doesn't even come close to referring to one thing. I could similarly ask, "How much does a car weigh?" Now, you could perhaps answer that by providing a range of weights from a typical compact car weight at the low end to maybe the weight of a limousine at the high end. But you aren't going to be able to provide a specific answer until I ask about a specific car. The same goes if you want to ask about love. You first need to be specific. But that itself is difficult because the word "love" is not meant to ever be specific, which is why I compared asking how much love weighs more closely to asking, "What is the temperature of cold."

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