Romantic love is characterised by its apparent irrational nature. This article will shed some light on how romantic love is as rational as any other kind of love. This article is based on the writing of Stephen Pinker from his book How the Mind Works .
According to Wikipedia, romantic love has the property that "it cannot be easily controlled". What makes us fall in love with someone is determined by our irrational subconsciousness rather than by our rational consciousness.
Although to love someone you need to have something in common with your partner, although sometimes like that Paula Abdul pop song goes: sometimes opposites attract. Mutual attractiveness to one another is also important, but the actual reason why you should fall in love with a particular person is not a function of our rational conscious minds.
The rest of this article will attempt to explain how romantic love is actually rational, when you look at it from the right point of view.
The Universe has the following hierarchy of complexity and entities of each level of complexity are built upon entities of lesser complexity:
Each level of complexity is built upon the earlier level of complexity.
Love in nature is characterised by an act of cooperation between different entities. There are two kinds of love: Whole/Part and Part/Part. Whole/Part love is characterised by the act of cooperating between entities of different complexities. Whole/Whole love is characterised by the act of cooperation between entities of roughly equal complexity. For example two atoms love one another when they join to build a molecule. This action happens due to pure chance alone, but it is still love.
When a adult teaches a child how to read, this is an act of Whole/Part love between two entities of differing complexities. The adult is more complex owing to being more developed and the child is less complex owing to being less developed. The act of Whole/Part love is characterised by the flow of knowledge from the adult to the child and the reciprocal flow of appreciation from the child to the adult.
When a person enters a relationship of prayer with God, the act of praying is a kind of Whole/Part love. The Whole in this case is God, while the Part is the person who prays. For this relationship to be well-defined the God that this person prays to must actually exist. Whole/Part love is also manifested between people and animals that are their pets.
When two people cooperate to raise a child or to build a house, their cooperation is an act of Whole/Whole love. The love between the two people is characterised by their cooperation to achieve a common goal.
The market for a mate is like a meat market. Those of us who want a mate are on the look out for the best piece of meat who is available for a relationship and who will settle for us. Whatever our current mate is, most of the time there is a is a better mate out there than our current one who would settle for us.
Without romantic love, our rational minds would be forever searching for a better mate. Therefore our rational minds cannot be relied upon to find a mate. This role is taken by our subconscious minds. Our subconscious minds stop us from forever searching for a better mate. Viewed from the point of view of helping us to find a mate, romantic love has a rational purpose, and is therefore as rational as any other kind of love.
Once we have had an intimate relationship with a potential mate we then express feelings of loneliness until we find another potential mate. This is nature's way of keeping us in the state where our genes are going to perpetuate themselves and therefore we are under the control by our selfish genes. But as you mature you find that all you need to combat loneliness is to have conversations with other people. Women almost never have to get used to life without a mate as they can go from one boyfriend to another. Men on the other hand have to attract a potential mate and therefore have to learn to live without being in a partnership relationship with a potential mate. As women get older the greater longevity of the female sex implies there are not enough older males to go around and therefore older women too will have to learn how to live without being in a relationship with a potential mate.
As former Beatle Paul McCartney once sung: No More Lonely Nights which indicates that Paul McCartney is stuck in the rut of looking for a mate and enslaved by his selfish genes. This is probably because McCartney has never needed to learn to live without a mate because his immense stardom and wealth means that he can go from one partner to another. Most of us eventually pass through this stage whereupon we reach the other side where social and workplace contact is all we need to combat loneliness. In this way we can defeat our genes' need to perpetuate themselves and we can therefore focus our energies into other areas such as adding to the sum total of human knowledge and more generally making the world a better place.
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