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Forward To Love

Love As a Learned Phenomenon

Man Needs to Loved and Be Loved

A Questions of Definition

Love Knows No Age

Love Has Many Deterrents

To Love Other You Must First Love Yourself

To Love You Must Free Yourself Of Labels

Love Involves Responsibility

Love Recognizes Needs

Love Requires One to Be Strong

Love Offers No Apology

A Questions of Definition

            To a great extent, the job of dealing with love is left to poets, philosophers and holy men. Scientists seem to avoid the subject. Abraham Maslow has stated: "It is amazing how little the empirical sciences have to offer on the subject of love. Particularly strange is the silence of the psychologists. Sometimes it is merely sad or irritating, as in the case of the text-books of psychology and sociology, particularly none of which recognizes needs of subject."

            Pitirim Sorokin, the famed Harvard sociologist in his book, The ways and Power of Love, explains why he feels the scientist has long avoided the discussion of love. He states': "The sensate minds emphatically disbelieve in the power of love. It appears to us something illusionary. We call it self-deception, the opiate of people's minds, idealistic bosh, unscientific delusion. We are biased against all theories that try to prove the power of love and other positive forces in determining human behavior and personality; in influencing the course of biological, social, mental and moral evolution; in affecting the direction of historical events; in shaping social institutions and culture. In the sensate milieu they appear to be unconvincing, unscientific, prejudiced and superstitious."

            So, science and scientists remain silent on the subject. Some recognize it as a reality while others see it only as a fantasized construct to give a meaningless life meaning. Some condemn it as out-and-out pathological.

            There is no doubt that love is not an easy subject with which to deal. Perhaps to be concerned with it is to "walk in where angels fear to tread." But for such a powerful life force to remain ignored, uninvestigated, condemned by the social scientists, is ludicrous.

            Perhaps the fears are founded in a semantic base. There is perhaps no word more misused than love. Franco is Villon, the French Romantic poet, decried the fact that we constantly "beggar the poor love word to base kitchen usages and work-a-day desires." A person may "love" God and "love" apple pie or the Dodgers. He may see "love" as sacrifice or dependency. He may think of "love" only in a male-female relationship; as a referent to sexual "love"; or he may see it only in saintly purity.

            We are obliged as individuals to arrive at some understanding of love before we can deal with it. This, as we indicated earlier, is not an easy task and we're often satisfied with giving it but small consideration. The task may even seem to us impossible and limiting of so broad a concept. For the scientist, therefore, it seems better to ignore it all together.

            It has, then, fallen into the hands of the saint who defines it in terms of a state of ecstasy; the poet who sees it in an exaggerated state of joy or disillusionment; the philosopher who attempts to analyze it in his rational, point-by-point, often obscure fashion. Love, it seems, fits perfectly into no one of these molds, for it may be all at once; a state of ecstasy, a state of joy, a state of disillusionment, a rational state or an irrational state.

            Love is many things, perhaps too many things to be definitive about it. So, one who attempts a definition runs the danger of ending up being vague or nebulous and arriving nowhere.

            We have already said that each man has learned love as phenomenon and continues to learn love in a most individual and unique fashion. To expect him to understand the word when used by another, in anything but a general sense, is to expect the miraculous. If one says to another, "I love apple pie," there would be little doubt what the person meant. Namely, that apple pie appealed to his gastronomic tastes. But, if the same person were to say to the other, "I love you," this would be another matter. We would have a tendency to question: "What does he mean by that? Does he love my body? My mind? Does he love me at this moment? Forever?" And so on. A student in love class stated this precisely when she said, "The difference between saying, 'I love you' to a friend I or a lover is that if you said 'I love you' to a friend, the friend would know exactly what you meant."

            It's certainly clear to the reader who has come this far, that to define love presents monumental problems because one grows in love, so his definition changes, and enlarges. But there are certain things which can be said about love, certain common elements which can be examined and which may help in clarifying the subject for discussion. Sharing some ideas regarding these aspects of love is my purpose in writing this book.

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