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We are told that love is universal. Birds do it; bees do it, even educated fleas do it. Everyone falls in love. Apparently, love is built into our genes. We humans seem destined to rush into sexual relations with obsessive passion, often threatening the balance of their social relations in the process.

However, given the universality of love, we would do well to pause and think about the social consequences of love. What does it mean for human social life that love is ubiquitous.

Let us consider first the impact of love on marriages practices in societies where descent is unilineal. In such societies, as for example the Yanomamo, love, while common, is rarely if ever a motive for getting married. For such people, living in societies where lineages provide clear pictures of their kin and clear prescriptions of their marriage partners, marriage is an arrangement that one endures.-.more often than not, for the profit and power of one's lineage. In these societies, where domestic units are extended families, decisions about any particular marriage are usually made by the lineage member in authority, usually an elder male, whose primary concern in arranging a marriage is the betterment of his lineage. Societies with matrilineages are no different from societies with patrilineages in this regard. Marriage, in other words, is a political act. It is a union instituted so as to enhance the "corporate interests" of lineage members. Like the activities of modern business corporations, marriage arrangements are public rather than private, and often energetically lobbied. Marriage, in other words, is a political gambit. The aim of lineage members with respect to marriage is to maximize the reproductive potential of women, thereby to increase and enhance the lineage.

Once we understand that marriage is a contract for a woman's reproductive potential, we can better appreciate the high frequency of practices called levirate (according to which a man marries his brother's widow) and sororate (a woman marries her sister's widower) and we can also understand why it happens that women in such societies who fail to produce offspring are disdained. Besides being a political act, marriage is often part of an economic alliance between lineages. A marriage arrangement is often sealed with the exchange of valuables, brideprice in some societies, dowry in others. The contractual character of marriage is especially apparent in societies like the Yanomamo where marriage is one of a series of political and economic tactics. "Alliances between villages are usually the consequence of a developmental sequence that involves casual trading, mutual feasting, and finally, the exchange of women" (Chagnon p. 160). In sum, marriages function as public arrangements that maintain the larger system of political and economic relations. In functionalist terms, the actions of marriage partners unconsciously support the social system.

What happened to love in such marriages? Don't love and marriage go a horse and carriage? What of the very private feelings that men and women experience for each other? Are these feelings just crushed and smothered in Yanomamo life as a result of the functioning of the system? Does it not seem that modern Western societies are advanced well beyond the Yanomamo insofar as we air out this often smothered dimension of human life, allowing private and personal feelings to have priority in this most significant social relationships?

I suggest that the answer to all these questions is not a simple "yes." Rather, we must examine the manner in which our own practices of love and marriage, including all the private and personal feelings associated with it, are themselves political and heavily lobbied. In the wake of such a study, we will find that our supposed private practices of love perform some very public functions within our own system of social life. Ultimately we will see, I think, that our marriage practices are just as political and economic as the Yanomamo's, but in a different way.

Let us examine the historical source and development of our own notions of marriage, built as it is on love and oriented as it is toward the creation of a family, a "haven from the heartless world."* Western marriage practices, and in particular the privileged experience called romantic love are, at their roots, intensely, albeit invisibly, political.

To understand the politics of Western love, we must return to the roots of Western concepts about marriage. These roots inevitably bring us back to the Christian theology and to the theocratic society that emerged in Rome in the third and fourth centuries. The Romans practiced patrilocal residence and reckoned kinship patrilineally. Marriages amongst the Romans, as amongst the Yanomamo, were arranged by male lineage heads with an eye to developing and enhancing the lineage. The earliest Christians subscribed to these traditional Roman marriage practices. But gradually the ranks of Christians were swelled with dissidents, especially women* who were systematically frustrated in their attempts to exercise autonomy in society and who began voicing their oppostion. Religious movements, under the label of Gnosticism, encouraged this dissent. These Gnostic movements were blends of Christianity, neo-Platonic philosophy, and Eastern mystery religions. They promised liberation from the suffocating domination of the traditional Roman institutions.

Liberation, according to the Gnostics, was claimed to consist of an "inward turn." The world with its contracts and obligations, its institutions and laws was essentially evil. This was the world Jesus had come to destroy. In its place there should arise a world of the spirit, a world where people relate to one another directly, sincerely, and authentically rather than through contracts and laws. That spirit, however, is able to arise only among persons who free themselves from civil life and who turn their attentions inward in order to "know" the divine gift of autonomy and free choice. (The word "Gnosticism" comes from a Greek word meaning knowledge as is visible in our contemporary words for medical knowledge, "diagnosis" and "prognosis".)

Cutting oneself free of civil life had to be, from a Gnostic's point of view, radical. The ardent Gnostics flauted the laws, were persecuted as subversives, and often dropped out, becoming hermits (a.k.a. anchorites). The first community of communal drop-outs (a.k.a. cenobites) appeared at the end of the third century in north Africa, led into the Egyptian desert by a man named Pachomius. As part of their subversive preaching, these ascetics reinterpreted the earliest writings about Jesus. They said he was a God in men's clothes. He only seemed to be human. They launched programs of corporeal self-discipline and were sharply critical every personal and social practice that comforted and pleasured human bodies. They lobbied against laws, against government, even against churches. These ascetics were "the pure" for whom organized religion as much as organized society was a blasphemy. And, of course, they railed against all physical activities which might divert the inwardly directed gaze, especially alcohol, sex, music and dance. Noise, above all, was the devil's work.

In the fifth century this buoyant program of subversion became organized and widespread under the name of Manicheism. In the eleventh century, the movement surfaced again amongst the Cathars (i.e. the pure, a.k.a. Albigenses) in southern France. Then and there the politics of Gnostic opposition to civil institutions focused on the matter of marriage. Troubadours' songs popularized the struggle of pure love against the venality of (i.e. money-grubbing motive behind) civil marriage. The early stories of Tristan/Isolde, Arthur/Guinevere and, later, the bard's Romeo/Juliet - indicate something of the tension that surrounded the matter of love-in-marriage from the late middle ages to the early modern period (see Paul Zweig's Heresy of Self-Love). These stories can be interpreted as attempts at damage-control in the face of the popular embrace of "love" as authority.

Elsewhere (in Britain) the popular ascription of authority to each and every human individual's spirit rather than to the institutions of civic life surfaced during the peasant revolution of late 14th-century England. Dissidents called Lollards, fought for the right of the common man to read the Bible. Other social movements in the West picked up the Gnostic motto "question authority." The Protestant Reformation, launched by Calvin, Luther, and Henry VIII in the 16th century was a major force of de-institutionalization and de-ritualization of social life. For example, the Quakers, in the 17th century encouraged some startling forms of world-rejection.* In a similar vein, the Enlightenment, prompted in part by Descartes' inwardly-turned "cogito ergo sum," was a rejection of the superstitious civil institutions of "the ancients" and an embrace of true knowledge (i.e. reason). Indeed, it is difficult for us to understand the Enlightenment assumptions about the "agent" without being reminded of Gnostic theology.

This study of Gnosticism in Western intellectual and social life suggests that "romantic love" in Western social life is ultimately just as highly political as a motive for marriage as anything to be found in Yanomamo life. Love in marriage is the ultimate authority not to be questioned. It is linked to the concept of conscience and will, and ultimately to identity, both individual and ethnic. Who I am and what I do in marriage and in politics is a function of my "inward turn" to the deep inner realities of "love." Just as marriages may split because of lost love so too political agreements may founder because the hearts of erstwhile allies turn sour. In other words, internal heartfelt commitments, at both the personal and public levels, are authoritative, and not to be second-guessed. Frequently enough, we can still hear modern nationalists voicing the argument used by Martin Luther nearly five hundred years ago: "God help me, I cannot do otherwise."

We all embrace the aphorism "Make love, not war," assuming that love is the very antithesis of war. But, if romantic love in West social life lies at the very foundation of Western politics, and if war is politics by other means, then, one must conclude, romantic love and war are cut from the same cloth. Making war is a ferocious way of making love.

edit by rvec: please use quote tags and add a source
waw...this text impresses by its size of not by its content... Very Happy Well I'd say trying to formalize, decsribe, represent, model love is not in the domaisn of the possible, of what our senses allow us to. We have been born, created like this. It is one of those things we know about, we are sure they exist, we hope for, like soul and the universe, but we'll never see know about love cause you see it..but can't tuoch it nor command it. TThat's the way it is..
I think you need to make a distinction between love the way animals experience it and the way humans experience love. Of course, the main thing that drives love is they will to get children and make sure the species continues to exist after a generation dies.

I think we can assume animals know some kind of loyalty but that it cannot be described as love. I think of animals that only pair up during mating season etc.
Humans mostly try to pair up for life. Even though that doesn't always work out, it's their intention most of the time.

What love actually is.. that's a hard question. As John Milton said in the Devil's Advocate: "Love is overrated. Biochemically no different than eating large quantities of chocolate."
That's one way to describe it. Another way would be to say that it's a feeling you get and develop when you see certain people that make you feel wonderfull. You start caring for them. Love is indiscribable, it cannot be pinpointed or faked. Attempting to describe it is hard but interesting nevertheless.
Zahir, is there a point to your post? Also, are you a professor named Dr. William Washabaugh at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee? Because if you are not, then you just stole his work and posted it here as if it were your own. It can be found here as a part of A Life of Response in chapter seven under the subheading "Love and Marriage":
In the bible, there is one chapter dedicated for love. It is one of my favorite chapter in the bible and you can find it in 1 Corinthians 13.

Here it goes:

1If I speak in the tongues[a] of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. 2If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. 3If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames,[b] but have not love, I gain nothing.

4Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

8Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. 9For we know in part and we prophesy in part, 10but when perfection comes, the imperfect disappears. 11When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put childish ways behind me. 12Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.

13And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.
Love is nothing but care with other people beside yourself. This is what I believe since I know this word.

Love is countless, and it is not something concrete but it does exist everywhere in this world.

I basically can't tell what love is, it is a feeling that lies in deep heart but somehow people can feel its existence. Not everyone can love but it is possible for us to learn how to love.

When you are loved by someone, you will know the meaning of love and this is what make love spread.

Love makes you don`t care about what others is done to you even it is hurting.

All this is my opinion to love.
I like JohnCarlo's response.

I cannot quote from the Good Word at will, nor am I one of the greater philosophers of my time. I am but a woman, in love with a man, that tries to better said man in any way shape or form possible, by any means possible.

Love at its strongest, to me, is caring so much for someone, that money is no object; that your priorities shift towards that person; that your mind pinpoints, on that person. Love is such, that if you needed to move a mountain with your bare hands for the object of your affection, you would find a way to do it.

I know this to be true, because I feel it within me. I care less for myself than I do for my man, and for me that is somewhat frightening, as I have not dared to delve into such an emotion before I met him.

There is -one- man on Earth that I would physically jump through flaming hoops for, if only to see him smile. and that is my Fiance`.

And the incredible part is that this emotion is not something that can be contained. it radiates outward from you when you truely have it - I know this, because when I fell for him, people treated me differently. Why? I was -acting- differently, and somehow, they knew why. I don't know if there's some kind of subtle change in the air around a person radiating this kind of love, but people react differently.

Another thing that blows my mind - his love for me. That emotion I just described to you all from personal experiance, he feels for me. I am not saying this because he tells me he loves me, or because he will call me in the middle of the night just to hear the sound of my voice. I know it because I see and feel it. I see it in his eyes when he looks at me, his face when he smiles at me, and how his bodylanguage changes when I enter the room. I feel it every time he touches my hand when I am worried, holds me close when I am upset, or moves my hair out of my face when i've had a bad day. I can even hear it in his voice - there is something different about it when he is talking to me, than when he is talking to anybody else, and I can't quite pinpoint what's different, but it's there. and I notice.

It has already been said in this forum that love cannot be faked. I believe that is because we use ALL of our senses, not just our thoughts or words, to detect love.

My apologies if this is seen as ranting, but... that's my answer to the question "what is love?"
i think you are in love when you spend your time trying to understand your wife, girlfriend, etc... like you do to yourself...
What is Love?

Love is when you wake up in the morning the first thought is her.
Love is when your last thought before you sleep is her.
Love is knowing you'd give your life for her.
Love is knowing you'd use all the blood in your body for a simply poem written in your own blood.
Love is knowing that no matter what she does, you'll love her, even if you can't forgive her.
Love is taking a 2 hour bus journey every weekend, every weekday to see her.
Love is forgetting what you want, and just providing for her.
Love is when you'd go around the whole world on foot, for one last kiss if it ment the last one.
Love is the tear that drops from your eyes because you can't be with her this second.
Love is the pain you would go through for her.

I could carry on, but you'll all get bored of reading it lol Sad

I got personal on this post Sad sorry.
Uplifting Dissapointment
Baby don't hurt me
don't hurt me
no more
It's actually "lady don't hurt me."

Yeah, I was shocked when I found out, too.
love is completely trusting someone u like
That's what we call it here "litanya". Your beating around the bushes. it's all in circles.
i perfectly agree with Zuex's post, Well i would like to add something to it.
I see people by looking at films connect Heart to love, But in practise poor heart does nothing Smile
its always a game of mind.
If you really want to experience what is love, Fall in it.
Love is something that i undefineable. I think that every person experiences and expresses it in a different way. Its not just something that happens in romantic relationships but also in friendships. I can honestly say that I love many of my friends. And that feeling you get from eating chocolate is a sore replacement for love. Nothing can make up for it, or fill it's place. It seem like in the american society especially people are all to willing to replace love and happiness in general with food.
No such thing called love anymore....Just wait a couple years and you'll get bored... And right now I'm too buzzed to read that full article. I got to the first sentence. Laughing Laughing
Love is a journey of emotions.

Unfortunately, it has being increasingly mistaken for its sister LUST.

However as the journey continues, Lust usually gets tired.
As the the road winds on and on, Lust gives up
As the thorns covers the road, lust vanishes
As the road passes thoruogh mountains and valleys, lust looks back

So when someone tells you they love you, just let them take the journey with you. It may not be too long, but LOVE will distinguish itself from LUST, FOR WHEN LUST GIVES UP, LOVE PERSISTS. ..and when they give up, just know love was never there in the beginning
Nice article, having more relation to the property inheritance, social position and institution of marriage, then to the love.

What is love?

Adoring someone, putting its (sorry, prefer ungendered words to the his or hers) happiness and well being above own? Then "making love, not war" sounds really odd.

Bodily function, frequently opposite to the good will and well being of the "beloved"? With feeling of irritation, hate and hopelessness from the other side? With the expression "we just were ... "loved" as the most negative and hopeless evaluation of the situation with negative outcome? And more and more frequent use of romantic and romance in negative meaning. Is this the universal thing that drives the universe?
This gives me fits.

What then we are talking about?

Now I'll be citing different, long time ago forgotten, sources from memory - to add more angles on view.

Contemporary, love as biochemical process, involving self-production of endorphins, internal drugs, inducing feeling of happiness. Production of them is fueled by presence of the "loved"person, and becomes the life-and-death necessity for a some time, until "beloved" starts make impact on the social and economic life, or becomes the permanently present irritant.

Ancient Greeks (at least some of them) believed, that love is equal personal catastrophe or disease, make the person behave irrationally, like mad for a short time, interfere with social obligations and proprieties, and carry the heavy load of consequences afterward.

Prehistoric (pre- written history, pre-agricultural history) people, who lived by collecting food and traveling, in sparsely populated world, could have this name feelings or bodily functions, but it likely had significantly less negative impact on lives: no marriage, no babysitter, no in-laws, no working for a living, no social mobility. Am I idealizing things? Maybe. But take a look at the websites about diet of the prehistoric people and try to follow the links. Highly interesting.

Aren't we mixing love and institution of marriage, that cold be or could be not connected together, or connected for a some time with long term consequences, having the strongest impact on the life?

Let me add one more angle to the discussion: why family, school, mass media, entertainment, including literature, religions are filled by talks about love (and marriage), but not about dealing with consequences or preventing them?
Citing Ancient Romans: who benefits?
rheanna wrote:
No such thing called love anymore....Just wait a couple years and you'll get bored... And right now I'm too buzzed to read that full article. I got to the first sentence. Laughing Laughing

I'm like that too. Too long text usually gets my eyes to cross over and my attention to waver. To me love is very subjective and can be so many things to so many people. Probably like beauty it is in the eyes of the beholder, or should I rather say the heart of the beholder Smile
arquivo wrote:
i think you are in love when you spend your time trying to understand your wife, girlfriend, etc... like you do to yourself...

I understand my wife too well. Either she gets on Paxil or I'll just slowly move away from her. Her temper, impatience, exhaustion, lack of respect are crossing the line. I can't take it anymore.
It is easy to understand what is love
Just fall in love with some ones Very Happy
i think that. When you wakeup and want to see the girls face in the morning, than you know (your in love) Very HappyVery Happy:
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