I had written this article taking up a hallucinatory discussion that a woman had made to a friend but after some time I realized that it seemed to me more and more childish. I therefore decided to rewrite this article. I have the pleasure and honor of meeting people of a certain age who would define love as something that starts when the butterflies end in the stomach. That feeling based on custom, everyday life and reciprocity. When each side sacrifices a bit of itself to understand the other. But where does this feeling and feelings in general come from? Our culture has always suggested a clear distinction between platonic love and erotic love. But are we really sure that the world is in black and white?
When I think of the origin of love, I like to close my eyes and imagine something much older than us humans. It could be conceivable that millions of years ago, some series of amino acids joined together to form the first protein, from that precise moment, triggered a series of processes, perhaps of a fortuitous nature that presumably will lead us to be what we are today. The first living cells would then develop from proteins. These reproduce independently through a process called cellular mitosis.
Over time, some of these microorganisms would have evolved to form larger organisms, the cells that these more complex organisms could have specialized to perform their function more efficiently. It might therefore be reasonable to assume that it was from here that a draft of what we in modernity can define as love originated.
According to my theory, in fact, normally, a multicellular organism lives much more than a single-celled organism because the cells that compose it "sacrifice", with a process called apoptosis, to make room for other younger and more functional cells. And what is love if not a sacrifice made for a good that is considered more important? How many of us could sacrifice our own being for a higher good such as the health of the social fabric in which we live?
Since organisms are interdependent on the environment in which they live, it is conceivable that a differentiation of genes was necessary to better allow future generations to adapt to these changes and to favor the reproduction of those winning elements for the continuation of the species. A type of sexual reproduction would therefore be born in which two organisms would unite in order to generate a better subject, more suited to the environment or to the continuous mutations of the latter.
Life in nature must not have been easy at the beginning and it is not easy even now however. We had to find a way for two people of the same species to trust each other enough to join together. Another thing of fundamental importance was presumably also that of allowing the best subjects to have more chances to reproduce. This characteristic has never abandoned life and is intrinsic in the genome even of human beings.
Little by little, the so-called natural selection would have created those mechanisms useful for the selection of the species. I believe that it is not a coincidence that many people fall in love with beauty (understood as symmetry and health). It is also no coincidence that anyone who is physically attracted to someone, has a tendency to approach and trust the latter. Attraction could also be expressed as the desire of someone to be stable, useful, capable, intelligent, rich or powerful.
The natural selection of many species would have directed these towards a more marked sociality in order to favor the survival of the latter in the most effective way possible. The affection we can feel towards a person we consider very close to us, could be the consequence of this mental pattern inherent in our genome. This predisposition could presumably be the cause of the fact that we suffer much more from the loss of a person close to us.
To this cynical view, one could object by arguing that with the passage of time the concept of love has evolved considerably by moving further and further away from those physical and natural factors that I have explained above. An example that could be made to support this contrary view is the fact that one can also fall in love with a poet. But if on the one hand the sensitivity could be considered a contradiction, on the other the latter could be understood as a normal predisposition to better care for the offspring.
Another objection that could be made is that love, although one of the most debated and studied feelings, is still obscure to people who are far more learned than me. This is true, I am certainly not a nobel prize. There are so many people who feel they love while failing to explain this link in a rational way. I could argue, however, that even the pain, from a person who is not a professional, could be considered something inexplicable and above all, when one feels pain, one does not always have the will or the faculty to rationalize the causes.
It may seem a totally cold and detached opinion of mine, but I believe in all conscience that, whether or not triggered by predictable and biological reactions, any feeling contributes to embellish life. Contrary to the impression I believe I gave with this article, it is the very existence of feelings that I believe makes life worth living. Especially if we consider a species like ours that has self-awareness and many of the mechanisms that revolve around existence.
At this point, for the benefit (I hope) of those who want to continue with this reading, I think it is useful to cite some sources on what are the interpretations on the topic in question, or on love.
Summarizing in a few words the concept of love in the various popular traditions and religions is an impossible task. We talk about concepts that have evolved over the centuries and that still today put a strain on the most enlightened minds of theology and philosophy. And so I hope you will forgive me if what I set out below could be a bit too simplified, partial and superficial. It is also necessary to specify that over the years, in any religion, there has been a certain degree of evolution in the interpretation of words within the sacred books.
If we examine the Christian religion, carefully reading the Bible and the gospels, we can appreciate a clear trichotomy of meaning. If on the one hand there is no doubt that even at this juncture we rely on sacrifice, understood as the sacrifice of the son of God for the love of humanity (new testament) and of a kind of love based on charity and compassion towards the neighbor, on the other hand one cannot help but notice that in the old testament the love of God is an unconditional love. In fact, it seems clear that in the initial part of the Bible, there is a clear reference to obedience. In short, if one is loyal to the word of God and to his commandments, one can be sure of being loved by the latter. Otherwise, examples of divine fury are not rare. All this, however, is mitigated by an inextinguishable divine mercy attentive to the certainly fickle nature of the human being.
The Islamic religion is opposed to this vision, where it is the love of the faithful for God that is at the center of everything, more than it does in the Bible where, indeed, the son of God is tortured and tortured. In the Islamic religion, however, there is the commandment to "love one's neighbor as one loves God". Also in this case, love for God is privileged to the detriment of all those earthly elements that make up the life of the human being. Personally, I noticed a certain resemblance to the old testament. Immediately after God, there is a very important figure called "Muhammad": the prophet of God. To give an explanatory example I would like to quote a verse to better show what kind of love we are talking about. "In three things, man finds the sweetness of faith: may God and his Prophet be more loved by the rest; that by loving the human being you do not love him except in God. "From here it is clear that loving one's neighbor is good only if he is in God, or if he follows the dictates of God and pleases him.
In Hinduism we do not have a single God but a pantheon of divinities. Among the various divinities, there are some that express a great variety of concepts entirely related to the nature of life and not least the concept of love. In the legends that tell of the Goddess Kali for example we can only appreciate the physical love, distinctly sexual and aggressive. The Goddess Lakshmi, instead, should inspire a kind of love that is sweeter, more protective and maternal. The Goddess Parvati represents instead a much more spiritual and devoted love, the classic love of poets that survives death and is not based on physical appearance. The Goddess Sarasvati instead represents love for the sciences and the arts, what we would call a passion for something, a certain trade, an art or a hobby. It is a very lucid and rational love where the ambitions of traditional love sentences do not find space. The Goddess Durga, like the Goddess Kali, represents the charm of the self-sufficient woman. Beautiful and powerful, it makes us understand how much the Hindu tradition has always been attentive to what is the purely feminine aspect of human nature. Here charm, self-sufficiency and beauty are the undisputed protagonists of legends. The Goddess Sita instead represents marital fidelity, although in the legends, this kind of love is not understood by the protagonists, it is one of the values considered very important in the field of love.
In Buddhism one should practice a kind of spiritual love in which, while enjoying all the aspects of the latter, it is necessary not to cling to anything because everything is transitory. More than other religions, in fact, a detachment is practiced in this that must involve all human passions in order to reach the serenity necessary to try to understand the concept of illumination. Buddhism also preaches the need for goodness and charity towards others in an unconditional way. In stark contrast to some European traditions, love must always and in any case bring happiness to the loved one and therefore the reasoning behind many traditions evolved from Greek literature is not contemplated: "Whoever hurts you makes you laugh and those who love you makes you cry ". Another very important aspect, which is becoming increasingly popular in the modern culture of almost all peoples, is freedom in the couple. In many occasions, the love in a couple could fail with time, especially if one relied on a passionate and physical love. The duties and obligations that are assumed when two people decide to stay together sometimes force people into moral cages where they are not happy.
These are some of the most famous and widespread religions, it is appropriate to stop here because the article continues in an attempt to follow other aspects. As I said, citing all the religious traditions linked to love would be impossible in an article like this.
Also in this case, do not expect that with a few paragraphs I will be able to expose you to all the scientific aspects that involve love, however I will try to make a summary.
Although my experience suggests to me that for some tradition-religion and science, they are two aspects in clear contrast, for me they are not at all. Over time, I realized that science is the direct evolution of philosophy that is the direct evolution of tradition. Until man has all the answers on all these three aspects, he cannot make such a clear differentiation and none of them can be annulled as many would like to happen. These three subjects are linked to one another as history is to modern life. Even if one day the most ancient aspects should disappear, I am convinced that we would lose much of the meaning of life, joy and charm that this should bring to each of us.
I wanted to bring back some examples of obtuse visions and compare these with each other but this article is becoming too long.
Science is something magnificent, it is the apotheosis of human reason, it is one of those aspects that makes human beings unique compared to other species. It is funny, however, to consider that it is science, to the detriment of the vision of many traditions, that suggests that the human being is not at all unique and it is only an animal that is simply smarter than the others.
In the same way, modern science suggested that love was nothing more than a collection of chemical reactions without making any distinction between the causes. Subsequently, with the considerable increase in education and the number of individuals in recent years, we appreciate an increasingly marked diversification of the various sciences.
Some aspects of a branch called positive psychology define love with a set of micro moments. These would be brain biochemical connections between individuals. Neurology and psychiatry suggest that there are very specific and measurable subjective biochemical interactions that, however, cannot be reproduced for ethical reasons at the moment. Some scientists even refuse to give meaning to the word love because they say it does not exist.
More specifically, they replace the word love with the "illusion of being in love". This feeling would result exclusively from an increase in oxytocin and dopamine in the blood. Some might argue that the increase in oxytocin and dopamine could be the effect but not the cause but with science it doesn't work that way.
Since experimentation on humans is not considered, for most of the acceptable global social fabric, as far as I know, scientists have focused on experimenting with other less evolved intellectually animals. For example Abigail Marsch of the American Chemical Society would have described an experiment with voles in a video. Since these animals are monogamous even when the partner dies, it was decided to administer drugs that block oxytocin inhibition. It has been observed that the vole in question, abandoning mourning, immediately consoled itself contrary to what the intrinsic nature of its species suggested.
It is interesting to note, however, that such experiments are done on animals considering a purely sexual point of view because I have no news of reliable studies that can prove that the platonic love experienced by animals can be controlled or induced. However, there are studies that prove that even animals experience platonic love and even plants, in their own way and with different mechanisms.
I find it astonishing though, although science is not so far in its certainties, the fact that many individuals reading an article on the internet, believe that everything they read is absolutely true or absolutely false. I believe that in any rule there is the exception and in any aspect life offers us, there are always nuances because the world is not in black and white.