posted on Jan, 31 2016 @ 12:50 AM
There are two different questions implicit here imo. 1) "Is there any compelling reason to believe love is more than biology/behavior/neurology? And
2) "Irrespective of the nature of what we call 'love,' can that feeling or acts inspired by it ever be more than pure reciprocity toward those who
improve, enrich, or render more bearable our own lives?"
Going purely with the biological and behavioral evidence, if you're speaking of love in the sense of the "feeling," I would say the answer to #1 is...
no. In the cold, harsh light of what empirical knowledge we have, I would describe love as a subjectively experienced emotional state resulting from
evolved, neurologically and hormonally mediated bonding behaviors, neurotransmitters, and psychosocial dynamics. Barring other evidence we have yet to
discover, any magical meaning or significance we ascribe to that feeling is contrived and a subjective delusion.
That's not how I choose to view it personally, but that's probably a delusion as well lol. (That's okay though - it's a hallmark of human behavior to
cope with reality through self-delusion or, as some might prefer, exercising our evolved capacity for imagination.)
#2 is imo trickier to address, and is contingent on your definition of selflessness. If you're capable of sufficient empathy as to be able to give a
total stranger something - sacrificing some small or great measure of your own capacity to ensure your own comfort or survival - purely because you
care about that stranger's well being and desire to ameliorate their suffering - then on a philosophical level, I would say, "Yes." On the other hand,
if you view empathy of that sort as a modern remnant of an evolved trait which arose to trade immediate benefit for longer term potential benefit in
circumstances where that might be prudent, and/or you view the exercise of such morally compelled behavior as serving the individual's sense of "being
a good person," then the answer would be, "No, because even if we don't realize it, we're doing it for at least partially (or fully) selfish
Personally... I suspect a great many of our behaviors are born of delusion or, at the very least, realities we can't prove and thus have no compelling
reason to treat as truth. Yet we all do this. It's just part of human nature. I used to torment myself about these issues, because I was hung up on
needing to find meaning and proof for such meaning. I couldn't accept that everything I believed in so fervently (love, egalitarianism, humanism,
compassion) might be meaningless ultimately. But I also couldn't accept that there was no proof those precepts themselves were little more than
delusional meaning attached to simple biologically mediated behaviors. It sincerely drove me mad for years.
At last, I concluded there is simply no escape from the human nature that is the creation of contrived meaning. Even if we take away everything else,
short of simply laying down and waiting for death (because really, there's no proof any of this means anything at all anyway, so why do we
persist? Survival instinct alone isn't sufficient for beings conscious of their own nature and desiring meaning beyond that from it. At least it
wasn't for me,) we are always engaged in belief of some sort or another anyway. Always. Belief is a shortcut to being able to function well
enough to survive, if nothing else. There's no way to ever get to a 100% empirically validatable source of meaning in our lives that isn't purely
utilitatian. In the harsh light of pure empirical knowledge, the universe and our existence appear nihilistic and intrinsically meaningless.
If we want meaning beyond that, it is our nature that we create it for ourselves. So I have surrendered to my nature, chosen to embrace my potential
delusions, and believe in love. Because my desire for sanity and to not be in a perpetual state of agonizing cognitive dissonance demands it of me.
I hope whatever solution others find to this question is a comfortable one.
As always, this is just my two cents.