What is the cause of love
The causes of love. Love and friendship with Thomas Aquinas
Table of Contents
2 What is love?
2.1 The good
2.2 The realization
2.3 The similarity
2.4 Other passions
Love is certainly one of the oldest and greatest phenomena that human consciousness has ever produced. Throughout human history, poets and thinkers have tried to fathom, understand and describe their mysteries. However, since love is related to so many other phenomena - such as beauty, goodness, lust and friendship - it is embedded in a huge complex of questions that is almost necessary for its further understanding. Part of this complex of questions deals with their fundamentals. Why do we love What drives us to love? What and how is our love caused? In its Summa theologica deals with the Italian philosopher and theologian Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274) among other things also with this topic. The following text provides an interpretation of the chapter “The cause of love” (p. 74) from the work just mentioned. So that this is understandable, the most important points of the previous chapter "The passions of the soul in particular [...] Love" (p. 61) are first summarized, which serve as premises for the later argumentation.
2. What is love?
In order to understand the reasons of love and to be able to fathom its causes, one must first consider love itself, because only through the knowledge of the object itself can one try to infer its reason. The love is part of the human "striving" (p. 62), which is a kind of basic intrinsic drive or desire. This means that it moves a person to desire something, to get hold of a thing, to strive for a state, to achieve or to want to change what he is potentially able to do. The goal of this ability, of striving itself, as well as love, is "the good" (ibid.) For the striving subject; something that has a positive effect on this in some way. With every "kind [...] of striving one calls love that which is the original reason for the movement towards the beloved goal" (p. 63). That means that every action and action is stimulated by love insofar as it puts that “beloved goal” (ibid.) In perspective, which increases the well-being of a loving being or a subject acting out of love; thus love is the causal origin for the pursuit of the good, which is accomplished through every act of striving.
Now the entire “striving ability” (p. 62) of the human being is made up of two components, namely the physical and the psychological striving. On the one hand there is a so-called “natural striving” (p. 63), which eludes the striving person's knowledge to the extent that it represents the fundamental physical and biological drive of all of nature; a kind of natural law that is given and takes place completely unconsciously without any action on our part. Hunger or sexual pleasure in a living being, for example, fall under this category. Natural mechanisms of desire, e.g. for individual life-preservation or species-preserving reproduction, whose goal is a being - and these beings also include entities such as plants, whose nutrition and reproduction depend on natural occurrences, as well as all other things to be observed in nature - even before all personal ones Knowledge without any subjective perception given by the intelligence of nature and is present everywhere. On the other hand, there is the so-called "sensual [...] striving" (ibid.), Which humans naturally have in common with unreasonable animals and which both follow "out of necessity, [but] not from freely executed judgment" (ibid.). It denotes the pursuit of an individual, natural, instinctive interest in an entity with a positive effect, such as the appetite for a certain meal due to hunger or the desire for a related being of the opposite sex due to heterosexuality; the instincts that follow the proverbial call of nature. In contrast to the first-mentioned type of striving, however, it is oriented towards the “perception of the striving” (ibid.). Although it is based on its unchangeable biological specifications of the first form of striving, a living being still has the option - choice of food or partner - to pursue an instinctive urge through its own action by determining the best goal for itself on the basis of sensory perception. In contrast to animals, however, humans are capable of integrating this instinctive striving into their consciously exercised "freedom of action" (ibid.), But only "insofar as they [striving] obey reason" (ibid.). At the same time, this means that only those who control their feelings and instincts properly can be free to act. However, this (self-) control is reserved for people alone, since in addition to the previous ability to strive, they also have the third, “the sensible or intellectual” (ibid.). In short, only man has a consciously experienced “will” (ibid.), Which is “at the same time subject to free judgment” (ibid.), As well as the natural necessities of the first striving. With regard to overcoming the innermost nature, this ultimate ability to strive is also called the “overcoming [...]” (ibid.).
From the two poles of a person's natural and voluntary striving, as has been shown, there are three levels of striving: natural, sensual and rational (or voluntary). According to the first, every striving is the fundamental drive to achieve an "inner harmony of the striving" (ibid.) With the striving. With regard to the suffering of hunger, its suppression by the satisfaction in a feeling of satiety represents this agreement. In love affairs it simply means that, for example, heterosexuality creates the urge to mate with a person of the opposite sex because of the natural need to reproduce to fulfill precisely this natural condition of a certain satisfaction. This "natural love" (ibid.) Can be compared with the rudimentary ability to (self) love, the natural ability to love in the modern sense, which pursues the purely subjective well-being of a being according to purely biological or scientific standards that a person pursues can observe, but never change. In living beings, this natural love constitutes instinctive, “sensual love” (p. 64), comparable to what is happening today erotic, physical or material love is called. Perceived by the living being, it pursues its goals by desiring what promises immediate pleasure. It is purely physical, entirely subjective and completely geared towards the well-being of the loving individual, "the good as such" (ibid.). The “intellectual or rational love” (ibid.), On the other hand, is a purely psychological phenomenon. All forms become her spiritual and disembodied love counted. Including the wrongly as platonic love designated Friendship. Your pleasure does not lie in a thing itself, but in goals that transcend self and matter, which in this form of love do not represent a relatively subjective, but an absolutely universal good. Nevertheless, this love can also be used for complete self-interest.
Out of “longing” (p. 66) a person moves towards the beloved and “joy” (ibid.) Arises when it has been achieved. Love itself "is nothing other than pleasure in what is strived for" (ibid.) And consists "in a change in the ability to strive through what is striven for" (ibid.). It is only through the perception of a good that generates pleasure - with which one falls in love - that one begins to strive for it. In the absence of the beloved, however, love does not create joy, but rather creates suffering, which alters a person's striving to replace old goals with new ones. Thus “it is clear that love is a passion” (ibid.), Because the pleasure it constitutes in something else creates the painful feeling of want, which is overcome by striving.
2.1. The good
That love is principally directed towards something good and how it does this has already been explained in the previous chapter. But “Is the good the only cause of love?” (P. 74). According to their orientation, the good is not the only, but "the real cause of love" (p. 75). In every human endeavor the goal is, i.e. "the object as much as the cause of its movement or its act" (ibid.). In short, when something positive is sought, the motivations are positive too. If the goal of striving is the murder of another person - even if this is carried out out of love for a certain person - the cause is, for example, the will to murder; so something bad. If, on the other hand, the aim of striving is to satisfy one's hunger, the reason for movement is precisely the will to end the state of hunger by ingesting food; so something good. As one of the driving passions in the "realm of striving" (ibid.), Love moves, as already mentioned the good to which, accordingly, is its cause. After all, something that does good cannot be bad after all.
“But now it happens that evil is also loved” (p. 74). This is because "a love [in itself] can be bad" (p. 75). The bad lover himself cannot make this objective assessment of such a love, however, since he personally “achieves something good through injustice” (ibid.). So someone who loves material things can also obtain them through theft, which seems good to himself, but is bad for others. An addiction or even addiction is another example of this. While the addict (lover) takes pleasure in what he consumes (loves), it does him harm. As the examples imply, bad love does not go beyond purely self-centered, purely sensual love, since the threshold of selflessness is never crossed and the area of charity is not entered. Because the lover's orientation nevertheless strives for a good - albeit exclusively for himself -, this behavior is still called loving. And even if someone who loved badly or acted selfishly and recklessly admits this mistake and is loved by other people because of it, this is done with good reason, because confessing mistakes "has the story of good" (p. 76) . A person is loved because of the good reason that transcends the ego, not because of his fault. In connection with love, however, the term "beautiful" (p. 74) is even more common than of the good. In principle, both terms even denote the same thing, because the joy that is experienced with the beloved and the beloved itself is called beautiful designated. Their difference lies in their inherent "relationship to the cognitive power" (p. 76) of the lover. While for a human subject something Well it may be entirely unconscious of it, since it naturally strives for it; like a meal or another person. As beautiful on the other hand, it denotes that whose goodness, whose personal worth it has recognized, is aware of and ultimately pleases; like that of your favorite dish or that of your partner or a friend.
2.2. The realization
Since that Quality is not the only cause of love, and with that beauty purely conceptually, the last factor is the Understanding added, a philosopher in particular asks himself to what extent this “knowledge is the cause of love” (p. 77). The good has already been established as the real motivation for all love. But now it is only possible to strive for something if its positive aspects have been recognized. The “knowledge of the good” (p. 78) of a thing or person is therefore the basic prerequisite for being able to love something or someone at all. This applies both to corporeal-sensual love and, in particular, to spiritual-sensible love, which can only arise through “looking at spiritual beauty and goodness” (ibid.). So the knowledge of the good, as well as the known itself - that is, knowledge and the good - due to their mutual cooperation, are equally the “origin” (ibid.) Of love.
Although knowledge is a decisive factor in love or loving, it is not necessary to know everything that is good down to the smallest detail in order to be fully capable of loving. The knowledge of the love for something or someone and their goodness, the sole knowledge of the personal pleasure in a good is already sufficient. The reason for this is the difference between the “perfection of knowledge” (p. 78) and the “perfection of love” (ibid.), Since the Understanding belongs to the “realm of reason” (ibid.), the love but lies “in the striving force” (p. 79) of man. The psychological aspect requires reason to know everything that is perceptible, since the perfection of reason omniscience demands. The physiological aspect, however, does not require full knowledge of itself from love, since not everything that is perceived can also be known at the same time; Knowledge follows perception; it builds on it, just as rational love builds on sensual love. "That is why it happens that [sic] is loved a little more than is known" (ibid.). For these reasons it is therefore also possible to love a “science” (p. 77). Because although one does not understand physics in every point, for example, one can perceive it with all its facets, recognize it as good, develop pleasure and lovingly strive for its knowledge.
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