In ethics, intimate and deep feelings, a special kind of consciousness, mental state and actions that are directed at another person, society, etc. are associated with the concept of love. The complexity and importance of love are dictated by the fact that it is focused in an organic compound physiological and spiritual, individual and social, personal and universal, understandable and inexplicable, intimate and generally accepted. There is no such developed society and there is no such person who was not familiar with it at least in small measure. Moreover, without love the moral image of a person cannot be formed, normal development does not occur.

The passion for love, the American sociologist E. Fromm notes in the book “The Art of Love”, is the most significant manifestation of human positive, life-affirming drives. “Love is the only affirmative answer to the question about the problem of human existence.” However, he continues, most people are not able to develop it to an adequate level of maturity, self-knowledge and determination. Love in general is an art that requires experience and the ability to concentrate, intuition and understanding, in a word, it must be comprehended.

The reason that many do not recognize this need is, according to Fromm, the following circumstances:

1) most people look at love from the position of “how to be loved”, but not “how to love”, not from the position of the possibility of love;

2) the idea that the problem is in love itself, and not in the ability to love;

3) the concepts of “love” and “state of love” are mixed, with the result that the notion that there is nothing easier than love dominates, whereas in practice it is quite different.

To overcome this state, it is necessary to realize that love is an art (as well as human life in general), that it must be comprehended. First of all, we must understand that love cannot be reduced only to the relationship between opposite sexes, a man and a woman. Love marked all human activity in all its manifestations (love of work, homeland, pleasure, etc.), moreover, love can be the motivator of this activity, its stimulus, source of energy. “Love becomes more fruitful from our inner experiences,” writes H. Ortega-and-Gasset, “it is born in many movements of the soul: desires, thoughts, aspirations, actions; but all that grows out of love, like the harvest of a seed, is not love itself; Love is a condition for the named movements of the soul to manifest. ” Therefore, in each epoch different types and aspects of love were distinguished, attempts were made to systematize the forms of its manifestation, arranging them according to their importance and meaning.

The concept of love in Plato was the first attempt to uncover the essence of “pure” love, to understand and comprehend what distinguishes this side of human life from the physiological instinct, sensual satisfaction. The sexual instinct differs from love in that it corresponds to our psycho-physiological organization, it depends on our sensuality, and its intensity depends on the degree of our saturation. The sexual instinct is easy to satisfy, and its monotonous repetition causes only fatigue.

Love is the other side of human life, it does not come down to the satisfaction of our sensuality, since it causes not a feeling of fatigue and satiety, but joy, delight from endless renewal. She, like man, is open to infinity and inherently anti-pragmatic. Love overcomes not only the limitations of a person on the path to perfection, truth, but also makes him clearer to another person.

Fromm emphasizes the meaning of love as a passion that overcomes alienation between people, generated by a sense of shame, guilt or excitement. “Without love, man could not survive a day.” “Matured love is a condition under which the integrity, unity, and individuality of each person is preserved. Love is the active force of a person; it is a force that breaks through the walls that separate one person from another and unites him with others: love helps a person to overcome feelings of isolation and loneliness, at the same time he can remain himself, preserve his individuality. A paradox is realized in love – two beings become one, and at the same time two of them ”.

Love, continues Fromm, is not passive, but active action, “a state in which you love,” but not at all love. Love is associated with bestowal, not perception. The most important sphere of bestowal is the kingdom of humanism, in which a person gives himself, a part of his life (this does not always mean sacrificing life): joy, understanding, tasks, humor, interests, etc. Giving this part of his life, Fromm stresses, a person enriches the other, deepens the meaning of his life, deepening the meaning of the life of another.

The possibilities of love depend on the degree of personal development and provide for the achievement of a state of creativity in which a person overcomes envy, narcissism, lust for power, gains the consciousness of his own power, self-confidence in achieving the goal. To the extent that a person lacks these qualities, he is afraid to give himself, that is, he is afraid to love.

From the active nature of love, continues Fromm, say the following of its elements:

  • care as an active attitude towards the life and well-being of the one we love, work for the benefit of others;
  • responsiveness as a willingness to “respond” to the call of another, request, etc .;
  • respect as the ability to see a person as he is, recognizing his individuality (and not what he needs for our purposes);
  • it is only when love is free;
  • knowledge, which overcomes blindness, inability to see each other;
  • only in love is the thirst to know oneself and one’s loved ones.

The only complete path of knowledge is realized in the act of love. I need to know myself and the other person objectively in order to be able to discern his true nature or, more precisely, overcome illusions, incorrect, ugly ideas about him. Only when I perceive a living being objectively, can I recognize him to the very intimate essence, and this I do in the process of love.

The aspect of love associated with the need to give, overcoming your personal egoism, life instincts, plays a special role in Christian morality, which was expressed in the famous thesis about love for your neighbor and the enemy as yourself. This kind of love is important not only for Christianity, but also for morality in general.

Love – and this is its unique role in life – is one of the few areas in which a person is able to feel and experience his absolute indispensability. In many social roles and functions of a particular person, you can replace, replace, change, just not in love. In this sphere of life, the individual has, therefore, the highest value, the highest value in comparison with everything else. Here man is not a function, but himself, in his concrete and immediate absolute. That is why only in love a person can feel the meaning of his existence for another and the meaning of the existence of another for himself. This is the highest synthesis of the meaning of human existence. Love helps him to manifest, revealing, increasing, developing in him good, positive, valuable.

And finally, love is one of the manifestations of human freedom. No one can make love – neither the other, nor himself. Love is a matter of own initiative, it is the basis of itself.

Ortega-i-Gasset characterized the specifics of love as follows: “Love — and it is love, and not the general state of the soul of a lover — is a pure act of feelings directed at an object, thing, or personality. As one of the sensual manifestations of memory, love itself is different from all the components of memory: to love is not to correlate, to observe, to think, to remember, to represent; love, on the other hand, is different from the attraction with which it often mixes. Undoubtedly, attraction is one of the manifestations of love, but love itself is not attraction … Our love is at the heart of all our attractions, which, like a seed, sprout from it. ”


About the meaning of love

Love is the leading need of man, one of the main ways of rooting him in society. Man lost his natural roots, ceased to live animal life. He needs human roots, as deep and strong as animal instincts. And one of these roots is love. “That love is generally a precious good, the happiness and comfort of human life – moreover, its only true foundation is the truth common, as if born to the human soul.”

All love is love for concrete, given things in feeling. Love for the abstract, perceived only by the mind, does not exist. “Thought,” categorically asserts Hegel, “cannot be loved.” Love for one’s neighbor is love for people with whom you enter into relationships, love for good is love for specific manifestations, actions for which it finds expression, love for beauty is an attraction to things that carry beauty in themselves, but not a love for “beauty in general”. It is impossible to love “humanity”, as it is impossible to love “a person in general,” you can only love a given, separate, individual person in all its concreteness.

It is necessary to emphasize such a feature of love as its universality: every person finds, in the end, his love and everyone is or will eventually become the object of someone’s love. Handsome man or ugly, young or not, rich or poor, he always dreams of love and looking for her. The reason for this is simple: love is the main and accessible to everyone method of self-affirmation and rooting in life, which without love is incomplete and incomplete. In early youth, they are persistently seeking, above all, erotic love, later comes love for children or for God, beauty or their profession, etc. Love can flare up and go out, one love can be replaced or supplanted by another, but a person always or loves , or hoping to love, or living memories of past love.

Love always means a new vision: with the advent of love, its subject and its whole environment begin to be perceived completely differently than before. It looks as if a person at one moment was transferred to another planet, where many objects are unfamiliar to him, and known objects are seen in a different light. A new vision communicated by love is, above all, a vision in the aura, in the mode of charm. It gives the object of love a special way of existence, in which there is a sense of the uniqueness of this object, its authenticity and irreplaceability. Love, creating a halo around a favorite object, informs him of holiness and inspires awe. About how strong awe can be, says, for example, that even the most ugly images of the Virgin have found admirers, and even more numerous than good images.

A. Schopenhauer and 3. Freud believed that love blinds, moreover, that in a love blindness a person is capable of committing a crime without repenting at all. But love is not blindness, but it is a different vision, in which everything evil and evil in a loved one appears only as a belittling and distortion of its true nature. The flaws of the beloved, notes S.L. Frank, are like a disease in a patient: its discovery does not cause hatred of him, but a desire to correct him.

The situation created by love is paradoxical: two people become one and at the same time remain two personalities. This leads to the fact that love acquires not only the appearance of coincidence and agreement, but also the appearance of conflict and struggle. This inner contradiction of love was well expressed by J.-P. Sartre, who considered the conflict the original meaning of “being-for-another.” Unity with the other is not feasible, either in fact or legally, since connecting together “being-for-itself” and “other” would entail the disappearance of the distinctive features of the “other”. The condition for identifying the “other” with me is a constant denial by me that I am this “other”. Unification is a source of conflict because, if I feel myself an object for the “other” and intend to assimilate it, remaining such an object, the “other” perceives me as an object among other objects and in no case intends to absorb me. “… Being-for-another,” Sartre concludes, “suggests a double inner denial.”

Since love is a conflict, all general provisions on social conflict can be transferred to it. In particular, it can be said that the greater the emotional involvement, the greater the conflict; the harder was the earlier agreement, the greater the conflict; the sharper it is, the more changes there will be, the higher their rates, etc.

However, although love always includes not only unity, but also conflict, it almost always brings with it a feeling of joy, happiness, and a specific inner liberation.

“This is a great mystery,” says about love in ancient times.

These features of love – this is just what is clear in it, or, rather, what lies before your eyes.

But in love, of course, there is something incomprehensible, fatal and even mystical. And it is possible that this very, inexplicable side of the souls to each other is the main thing in love.

Probably, the debate about the relationship between the rational and the irrational, physical and spiritual in love will never end. It is clear, however, one thing: through it, we are aware of, we perceive the meaning of life in general, and our own autonomy. Love is always happy, only dislike is unhappy, its absence. Love is a criterion for ourselves and for those around us, our art of being human.