Reading about Choosing to Be in Love

Reading about love. The lovestruck will have no interest because being in love takes you out of being in any conceptual mode, such as reading about the sort of thing love is. Or is supposed to be.

Maybe this is a part of what Emily Dickinson was pointing to when she wrote:

That love is all there is,

Is all we know of love.

When you’re in love, all there is is love. Next question?

But then there are the unrequited lovers. Which may be most of us most of the time. Do they read about love?

It turns out that many may be reading about love these days. Certainly, more are writing about it philosophically. This is documented in Clancy Martin’s review of Berit Brogaard’s book On Romantic Love. Martin likes Brogaard’s book.

Book Cove-Berit Brogaard-On Romantic Love

From what I gather, the controlling idea is that love, though it is an emotion, may be rational or not. Brogaard means “rational” in a sense that permits some choice and control on the part of anyone with romantic love on his mind (and not just in his heart).

This suggests that if you’re in love and you wish you weren’t, you might be able to do something about it. And if you aren’t in love, maybe you can do something about that, too.

I see a problem here. While your emotional state may be under some measure of control, you have no control over the emotional state of another person. This is a real problem for the lovelorn. For romantic love is arguably reciprocal. Without reciprocation—that is, as long as love goes unrequited—the love you feel may not be the same thing it would be if reciprocated. It may not even be romantic love.

But then, what is it?

Notes:

[1] The Emily Dickinson quote is from her undated poem “That love is all there is.” Dickinson lived from 1830-1886.

[2] For Clancy Martin’s review of Berit Brogaard, follow this link: Choosing Love – The Chronicle Review – The Chronicle of Higher Education.

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About Doug Geivett
University Professor; PhD in philosophy; author; conference speaker. Hobbies include motorcycling, travel, kayaking, sailing.

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