The Nature of Love

Only recently has the study of love been elevated to the status of science. Though Freud, who argued that it was worthy of study, said thousands of years of artistic treatment and creative writing have already made it clear that love is a subject for research, early explorations of the topic were met with considerable criticism. U.S. Senator William Proxmire dismissed such research as a waste of taxpayer dollars. But as the study of love has progressed, it has remained a perennially controversial subject.

Relationship between lover and beloved

Love is a reactive attitude that arises out of one’s response to the virtuous characteristics and virtues of one’s lover. The virtuous traits and virtues are not discrete acts but rather are grounds for the loving response. In the context of a relational relationship, these character traits and virtues are salient and appropriate grounds for love. A lover’s reaction to his lover is always justified, resulting in virtuous feelings.

Commitment to love

The two extremes of making a commitment are not the same. While making a commitment is a risk, the danger of not doing so is even greater. While a relationship can end in misery if neither person keeps his or her commitment, not making a commitment can lead to loneliness and a failed relationship. Here are three reasons why a relationship should be based on conscious decision, rather than emotions. And which will work best for you?

Altruism as a form of love

Humans exhibit altruistic behavior to various degree when they are in the nuclear family. However, at this developmental stage, people also extend this behavior to a wider group, which includes all the relatives who share a genetic relatedness of 0.25 or lower. This social grouping serves as a stronger basis to raise offspring, and love appears to be a natural trait. Because the extended family forms a powerful primary group, altruism becomes more prominent and it also increases inclusive fitness.

Robust concern views of love

This article argues that robust concern views of love are more consistent with the nature of love. They do not claim to account for the intuitive “depth” of love. Instead, they suggest that concern for the beloved is a disposition to be vigilant and to have relevant occurrent desires. If you have a concern for someone you love, then your concern will be conative, rather than selfish. This is an important distinction to make, because it might be the difference between love and paternalism.

Evolutionary biology’s view of love

Some of the best-known studies on human attachment and love focus on the differences between human and animal partners, while others point to evolutionary causes. In particular, studies have pointed to interspecies resemblance as a factor. Biological and behavioral similarities make humans more likely to enjoy interacting with certain animals. For example, humans often find it difficult to like invertebrates, while mammals tend to inspire positive sentiments. For example, large mammals tend to draw more attention from society than their smaller cousins.