Saturday, July 23, 2016

Love and Understanding

Does love require a kind of understanding? Does understanding, at least in some cases, require a kind of love?  Does one or the other have moral, logical, or epistemic priority?
      Can there be understanding without love, and love without understanding?
      Do we have to understand (or be able to show understanding toward) someone in order to be able to love them? Do we have to love someone in order to be able to understand (or show understanding toward) them?
      Is understanding a ground of love, and love a ground of understanding? Do we have to “love our enemies” in order to understand them?         
      There may be a certain kind of understanding that requires love of whomever or whatever we’re trying to understand. There may also be a certain kind of love that requires or depends on our presumed understanding of whomever or whatever we think we love.
       There may also be a kind of love of things that are beyond our complete understanding.
      Suppose that instead of saying “I believe, so that I may understand” (“Credo ut intelligam,” as Anselm affirmed) or “I seek to understand, so that I may believe” ("Quaero intelligere ut credam,” as he denied), we each were to say, “I love, so that I may understand” or “I seek to understand, so that I may love”? What would then happen to our perceptions of ourselves and one another?
      There may be many kinds of love: parental, filial, marital, brotherly, sisterly, neighborly, romantic, erotic, and sexual. There may also be many kinds of understanding: analytic, synthetic, intellectual, emotional, empathetic, experiential, practical, and theoretical. An “adequate” understanding of someone or something (however that “adequacy” may be defined) may require more than one kind of understanding of that person or thing.
      There may also be various kinds of self-love and self-understanding,
      Can we truly love someone whom we don’t at all understand? Can we truly love someone if we don’t actually know who she is and who we’re actually in love with? Perhaps we can love someone in spite of not always being able to understand them. Perhaps true love requires that we love others unconditionally and without necessarily having to understand all their thoughts, words, and actions.
      It may be argued that love may sometimes be irrational or unexplainable; but can such an act or emotion properly be called “love” (rather than “infatuation” or “obsession”) if it's utterly irrational?
      Mustn’t we be able to think that we have at least some partial or incomplete understanding of whomever or whatever we think we love?
      Don’t we in some cases love someone for the very reason that we understand them, or understand someone for the very reason that we love them? How much of a role may understanding then play in our falling in or out of love? And how much of our love for someone or something may be determined by our own capacity for self-understanding?
      Loving someone may require at least a willingness to try to understand them, even if we don't have the fully developed capacity to do so. The imperfectness of our love may then be revealed, at least in part, by the imperfectness of our understanding of them.
      There may also be degrees of love and understanding. If we love someone enough, perhaps that means that we’ll be able to sufficiently understand them.
       Is there a threshold level of love that’s necessary for our understanding of someone? Is there a threshold level of understanding that’s necessary for our love of someone?
      Perhaps we should try more often to determine both the nature of our understanding of love and the nature of our love of understanding. Perhaps we should also try more often to determine whether we’re actually developing a greater understanding of the nature of love or whether we’re merely falling in love with the idea of understanding it.


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