Page Nav


Classic Header




The power of love

 Why does love exist? What is love for? And what is love anyway? What is this feeling?   We think it belongs to us humans, but we also see s...

 Why does love exist? What is love for? And what is love anyway? What is this feeling? 

We think it belongs to us humans, but we also see signs of love in the behavior of many animal species.

It is difficult to provide a precise definition of love, we mostly just describe the concept. It is as if love can manifest itself in many ways, as if there are many kinds of love.

In a certain way I love my partner, in a certain way I love my children, in a certain way I love my friends. I feel affection for them. Love seems to be a feeling that is most often associated with helpful, selfless behavior that serves procreation and sustenance.

But in a certain way I also love my favorite foods. But this love is not the same as the previous one. This feeling is not altruistic. I love certain foods because they taste good to me, and they taste good because they are my life-sustaining food, made to taste good by evolution. However, this feeling is of direct benefit to me, and this feeling is often accompanied by selfish behavior.

But love, as we usually think of it, cannot be selfish, nor can it be normally interpreted as altruistic behavior towards an object. The real meaning of the function of love can only be an emotion towards a living being and the behavior associated with it.

However, behavior towards a person that is attributed to a feeling of love can also appear in selfish form. One example is when personal love manifests itself in the form of romantic love. When I am in romantic love with someone, I usually love that person in a way that makes me wish that he or she was exclusively mine. The emotion attributed to this type of love is of course a selfish instinct, developed by evolution for the purpose of personal species perseverance.

But it also looks like love when a person in need receives help from another person. But we don't even necessarily develop a feeling of love towards a stranger, and we don't usually expect anything in return. The person receiving help may remain an unknown stranger. I help a stranger, I do it altruistically, although I could choose another form of behavior. Do we help strangers out with love? Why not say so? But it may not even involve a conscious feeling of love. It may simply be that the act of helping gives me a sense of joy.

So, what is love? It is a fundamental, highly valued, yet elusive feeling. The emotion of love seems to have evolved through evolution as a kind of instinctive urge, a motivation for altruistic behavior for personal existence and the sustenance of species. Love is an evolutionary compulsion for self-sacrificial behavior, with the evolutionarily evolved biological mechanism of gratification as a tool for motivating self-sacrificial behavior.

Many animal species can behave in a self-sacrificing way. It is possible that self-sacrificing behavior in animals with an evolved brain is motivated by a sense of pleasure, but it is certainly the case in humans.

So when do I love someone? When I am capable of a supportive action that helps another living being, that is disadvantageous to me, and I can do this disadvantageous action happily and joyfully.

Humans are capable of love, but that is not the only reason why humans are special. Human actions and behavior are determined more than those of any other living being on Earth by our consciousness. Consciousness can also influence human love, and by this, human love can exist in a form influenced by consciousness.

The concept of human love needs to be defined in such a way that self-consciousness can be part of the definition. In the case of human beings, love cannot be merely an instinctive behavior, an involuntary impulse to a certain behavior triggered by a feeling of pleasure. In the case of human love, the person might also be able to consciously choose the act that realizes love. The role of self-consciousness is a necessary element in the definition of human love.

Therefore, human love is a brain activity that can be manifested in the conscious mind also, in a way that is capable of stimulating the gratification system developed by evolution through self-sacrificing behavior in support of other living beings. The process is bidirectional, it can also work in reverse, the sense of pleasure is able to motivate self-sacrificing behavior.

Human love is a self-sacrificing behavior that is present in the conscious mind. But love is not a universal human ability. Not all people, nor are they all equally capable of stimulating the neural processes that give rise to feelings of gratification through self-sacrificial behavior. Not everyone is equally capable of love.

The evolutionary role of love is to support cooperative behavior between members of groups of individuals possessing advanced brains.

But cooperation is not only achieved through self-sacrificing behavior. Intentional cooperative behavior for self-interest is also characteristic of humans. The pursuit of self-interest can also, of course, give rise to a sense of pleasure. The process of love can also work to serve self-interest. However, the function of love is not to serve selfishness, but to motivate altruistic behavior.

Cooperative behavior for self-interest is strongly constrained by the need to satisfy the pursuit of own benefit. Human behavior is also deeply influenced by unconscious instinct. However, self-consciousness, together with the capability of love, is able to provide an extended degree of freedom over these limits and offer broader cooperative behavior.

The human ability to love has the potential to extend toward unrestricted cooperation, freeing behavior from its instinctive constraints, as well as from the need to pursue individual interest. The capacity to love, through self-sacrificing behavior employing self-consciousness, enables groups of cooperating individuals to engage in a qualitatively new type of cooperation.

In addition to the capacity for love, a human society built up of intelligent individuals with self-awareness has the potential for intelligent evolution that allows for exponential development, an evolutionary mechanism more efficient than biological evolution, which restricts the adaptation to the environment to features determined by genes. Hence, intelligent evolution under the guidance of love produces an optimal cooperative state of society of self-conscious individuals, which enables the most effective use of their capabilities.

Interestingly, one of mankind's conceptions of god, the Bible, also gives an important role to love, claiming that god is love, and then try to define what love really is through metaphors, paraphrases, and often striking examples that are quite divergent from common human thinking. In the Christian religion, God is a manifestation of love. Why do human beings think that the supernatural must be incorporated, and can be involved in this kind of evolutionary form of behavior?

According to the definition used, love is the motivation for self-sacrificing behavior. The self-sacrificing behavior of the omnipotent is inherently difficult to interpret. If God is all-possessing and all-capable, how can God behave in a self-sacrificial way? For example, by renouncing his power in a certain sense. If we take the Bible as a reference, God can also make sacrifices. But even so, the self-sacrificial nature of the sacrifice that God makes is questionable. God does not really lose by sacrifice. But perhaps the self-sacrificial behavior of God is not the fundamental essence of divine love.

What then is the significance of the love attributed to God? What conclusion can be drawn about love in relation to a God who is love?

The identification of God with love has been introduced into human thought through self-consciously determined love. Self-sacrificing action of cooperation by own volition is the highest possible level of love. This love is demonstrated by God also in the laws of Christianity.

The imagined god, as the personification of love, can be an example to us, a pedagogical method for a society of self-conscious individuals, teaching us the way to achieve cooperation. When human society reaches the level of love demonstrated by the rules attributed to God, society can reach a new stage of development of cooperation. This is the stage that may be necessary, that may make humans able (following the guidance of a more advanced intelligence?) to be admitted into the community of galactic societies

Perhaps this is the true power of love. 

Happy rebirth-day, Jesus.

No comments