On Love

  • Love might be the most central driving force of both the secular and the sacred. This section explores the reality and potential of love across both domains. Clearly love is often thought central to being human. But in this website we seek to define love in a way that far surpasses its use on the human level. Consistent with the themes of this website, we adopt the “working hypothesis” that love is only the human, conscious-being manifestation of a process and necessity that is present as far back as the origins of the universe. Rather than using a romantic definition that projects the human experience of love on non-conscious entities and the physical world, we will use a definition of the roots of love derived first from the physical and then try to show how it manifested itself spontaneously on every emergent level of reality until it became what we recognize today as human love on our scalar level. This expanded view of love then coudl become a bridge across the troubled chasm of Secular and Sacred. Something thought to be isolated to humanity and especially to the Sacred was present for all time in the Secular as well. [60F/W’13]
  • Of course readers might respond that “human love” is already ever present and central to the Secular. We use the term for sexual and romantic love in ways that are often clearly at odds with the Sacred. The terms passion and desire that undeniably serve a practical purpose in the animal world come to mind. The broader concept of love suggested here would help to distinguish love on the secular level that is consistent with love on the Sacred levels in a way that exposes some of the uses of the word as not the love that courses through all of natural and social domains. [159Sm’14]
  • Love has many meanings in a species that is known for the promiscuity of its words. There is a tyranny of words we constantly battle to make ourselves understood and for ourselves to understand. Consider a listing of only some of the “types” of human love that one of us encourages students of an annual course on the Biology of Human Sex to write on the front whiteboard on the first day of class (they have no trouble producing a list longer than this in minutes). In no particular priority order: the list often contains parental love, love of parents, brotherly love, sibling love, puppy love, love of pets, love of country, sexual love, marital love, divine love of us, our love of God, love of food, free love, love of friends, selfless love, love of self, unrequited love, love of knowledge, love of nature, altruistic love, unconditional love, and more. What do all of these have in common? Does what they have in common also have similarities to the physically-based forerunner of love on previous scalar levels of emergence?  [61F/W’13]
  • To answer this we must define very carefully and deeply what love is. There are many types of love, but we would argue that virtually all of them derive from one fundamental condition – incompleteness. We seek to join with other entities from incompleteness and this is also HOW WE JOIN with other entities. Love is the tendency to join with others or to help make others more complete. This is often considered unselfish because it is focused so much on trying to help others become more complete, sometimes apparently at our own expense. In fact the very connections that are referenced in auto-altruism (see Working Positions) are due to the incompleteness:completeness spectrum. [160Sm’14]
  • Note that this figures into the Unbroken Sequence of Origins (see website section under Living Books). At all fundamental emergent levels from the beginning of the universe, the emergence of new scales of entities results from integrations of formerly incomplete entities. This consistent process or mechanism of emergence (also under Living Books) has repeated over and over again for the first appearance of some 56 unique scales of mass, classes of entities since the Big Bang. Wow. This means that love is not just on the human level; it existed from the very beginning of time and is basic to the very dynamism of the universe, even the physical universe. Of course to see this one must study all of those origins, their respective times and mechanics, and abstract to the level of general systems origins. But once this conceptualization is adopted, not only love, but also auto-altruism is universal (see website section on auto-altruism under Working Positions). And this version of the notion not only preserves the concept of unselfish love, a transcendence of self, but makes it fundamental to the natural, biological, as well as sociological and spiritual worlds. In this it approaches an update of Chardin’s ideas from paleontology (representing the Secular) to religion (representing the Sacred — see Books section).  [161Sm’14]
  • When one of us authors was very young, he decided “love” was the most important feature of religion and spirituality. That is why he joined an Order of priests, nuns, and brothers whose entire metaphor was love (Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary). To him God was pure love. Now, in my skeptical period, I find that some even challenge that Jesus or God is concerned about love at all. Imagine my surprise to read in the recent book, The Evolution of God by Robert Wright an entire chapter supposedly showing that it was Paul who brought love into the Jesus picture, not Jesus. I must say re-reading the Gospels (both the classical four and the new several) seems to support his argument. He really rarely mentions love or cites it as essential and fundamental. But then the Nag Hammadi and Gnostic literature describe God with the word “pleroma” which they translate as “fullness” and I suggest means “completeness” in the context of the above. If this is so the pleroma cannot love and is not interested in love because it is already and eternally complete. This situation retains the unspeakable, unthinkable superiority of the pleroma but also shows how difficult it would be for us in the material world (who are by definition incomplete manifestations) to understand or communicate with the pleroma. I think this would explain a lot of the poor theology that has been going around for a couple of thousand years. I know this must sound heretical to you. But it has its own insights and freeing of thought and conception. Now he sees God as more pure potential and completeness than love. Love is more an artifact of the material world which is a corrupt, degraded manifestation of the completeness. [162Sm’14]
  • Now to relate this suggested viewpoint to another website section. Is auto-altruism then self-love? We think not. It is recognition of the universal need to complete the incomplete. That all of the entities of this world are incomplete, and that the fail in virtually every process to ever become finally complete, has long been recognized as entropy by the Secular (the immutable 2nd Law of Themodynamics). Order and negentropy are only temporary completeness. So there is always a left-over, universal need to complete the incomplete. That is the ultimate goal of this manifest material world. That is also the driving force for the Unbroken Sequence of Origins. In this way, the entire material world is by definition caught up in trying to fulfill incompleteness (selfish) by joining (temporarily unselfish) For our human individual and social levels, it is a humble admission of our inherent, of everyone and everything’s inherent, incompleteness and the desire to help in the vast tendency to make things more complete. It is participation in the universality of love.  [163Sm’14]
  • Just don’t expect God to be too interested in our successes and failures at accomplishing this as God is already and always was the pleroma according to all the popular presentations of his characteristics. He does not need our love by definition. Why He would even seek it is a mystery. In fact, we don’t even understand why “pleroma” would need our adoration as is so often depicted in our participation in heaven or after-death-return-to-life expositions (see Books, Sacred-Dominant). Would the adoration of a bunch of cockroaches make you better? And the distance between us and God is far greater than the distance between us and cockroaches. Love is central to us and to the universe; but it is not central to the pleroma except that incompleteness helps define and elevate completeness simply by contrast.  [164Sm’14]

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *