Love Is An Illusion?
Many years ago, i’d observed that older couples are less loving towards each other compared to younger couples. Naturally, i asked myself .. why so? I could have settled for a simpler answer like – the feeling has faded or they no longer love each other or whatsoever. However, i refused to. I remembered myself absurdly asking my female friends about this (to get some female perspectives) during our casual conversations. But i wasn’t satisfied with the answers… and soon, i gave up. It was only in recent years, i finally found the answer for this old little puzzle of mine. And i have to thank Mr. Arthur Schopenhauer for this.
To Schopenhauer, the ultimate purpose of human being is to breed and have children and continuing the next generation. Everything in our life is geared towards that goal. The survival of species is the ultimate quest in all living creatures. It’s biological, it’s instinctive, it’s in our Will, something which is beyond our conscious control. Not surprisingly, his work inspired the work of latter generation such as the study of subconscious mind by Sigmund Freud and Evolution by Charles Darwin.
Schopenhaeur said falling in love is a ‘blind biological urge’ in us – love is basically an illusion which pull men and women together. Love in our mind is magical, sweet, sensational and is a symbol of happiness. But little did we know that these emotions come together with Love as a whole ‘package’. When human are able to derive positive emotions out of something, we gain satisfaction. And this satisfaction is what keep our desire alive. It’s instinctive, and we are basically slaves to our own instinct and desire (Schopenhauer called it Will).
Schopenhauer believed that the truth is ugly. Marriage is a trap to confine couples together. Living as a husband and wife means halve both of their rights and double the duties. Having children will require the couples to put in more effort and resources to maintain the family.
Therefore, only a force as strong as Love can ‘blind’ us, bringing men and women together in a same roof. When we are finding our potential partners, we do not think of making babies with them, rather, we think of Love. It seems that we have no choice but to fall in love and the illusion of love (which gives extreme positive emotions) will conveniently wipe away all the misery of a married life and having babies. Schopenhauer’s magic word – Biological is stronger than Reasons. Buddha’s magic word – Emotion arise from Desire, hence an Illusion.
This perfectly answered the question i had and i think it is safe to conclude the reason why older couples are still together is due to respect and responsibility rather than still genuinely loving each other. I always believe human are polygamous by nature. But due to the development of human culture (of the different role between men and women), and more importantly the influence of religion such as Christianity, the nature rule has been replaced by human rule, thus championing the monogamous way.
I whole heartily agree with Schopenhauer’s reasoning on love. However, i’m sure i will never follow his way of remaining single and living in solitude life till the end of my day. I do want to have a life-long companion (wife) and a family. This is my reasoning – if human are biologically a social animal and hardwired to fall in love, then why should we go against the nature? As Schopenhaeur said, Biological is stronger than Reasoning, hence if we insist on following the literal Reasonings, wouldn’t it be a challenging difficulty for human to adapt to this deprived-of-instinct-fulfillment-life? Wouldn’t it be a distress to live in a life where at one hand, we can’t take love seriously as we know it is just an illusion and on the other hand, we persistently being pestered by our biological instincts to fall in love. We would be trapped in a no-man’s land. That to me, is a miserable lose-lose situation. Sometimes, ignorance is bliss, no?
As much as i love and respect Schopenhauer’s philosophical works, i can’t help but to think that he is a miserable pessimist who was trapped between logic and his inner feelings. You could just see how pessimist he was towards humanity and nature by reading the quote below, something which he said on his death-bed.
If God made this world, then i would not want to be the God. It is full of misery and distress that it breaks my heart. –Schopenhauer
I had a wicked thought while i was writing this blog post. I questioned, why do parents are willing to put their lives at stake in order to protect their children? In many circumstances, the parent may even trade life to make sure the survival of their children. It seems divine and noble in the first glance. But it is not logical.
- If the parents are willing to sacrifice themselves, despite saving their children, they lose their lives. Not only that, they will have absolutely no control over the fate of their children once they are dead. (if later on the children faced danger again and die, then the sacrifice of the parents will be futile.)
- If the parents are not willing to sacrifice themselves, their children will die but the parents are able to retain their lives. If they are healthy enough, they could breed again and replace the dead children with new children. They could oversee the growth of these new children and will able to drive their fate to a certain direction.
Isn’t it logical to choose the latter option rather than the former one? But many parents will choose the first option, much to the influence of our instinct. I may sound a little sadist and not politically correct, but i’m only treating this just as a daily thought-exercise, nothing more. Period.
This gave me a little idea that human are not 100% rational and logical as we would like to believe in ourselves. I have not thought much about it yet, but i’m damn sure this will be a very interesting post to write in the future.