Section: Human values
The level (grade): 10-11
Subject: Morality and communication
Objective: Gain knowledge about the phenomenon of love from different points of view. To formulate peculiar ideas about love, and its impact on life.
What is love? Ordinary people think one thing, scientists another and writers have their own opinion. Specialists of different industries give different answers. Chemists, biologists and physiologists explain it in terms of chemical processes going on in a human’s body. Psychologists explain in terms of emotions. Philosophers regard it as a philosophical phenomenon. Sociologists believe that love is a tool which, by using, you can manipulate or rule a man (even a group of people). But everyone gets their own answer to this question, based on personal experience and perceptions.
And somebody doesn’t think, just loves and that’s it. They believe that there is no need to have knowledge but feelings. Yet, feelings also have their origin and we will figure out what it is.
Does love change from century to century? Let’s try to find answers to these "eternal" questions.
Studies show that "love hormones" are responsible for love: serotonin, dopamine, oxytocin and others. Let’s try to understand the "chemical side" of this feeling.
What are the processes that occur during falling in love? How do they change during the development of love?
Oxytocin is a hormone commonly referred to as “the love hormone”, it plays the mail role.
It is responsible for the formation of the first signs of affection and sympathy. It also helps establish trust. Its functioning or activity stimulates dopamine and serotonin. They are responsible for “a trembling heart” and "feeling butterflies in the stomach", acceleration of the heartbeat, and for stimulating the smooth muscle. They help create the emotions of satisfaction when dealing with a loved one.
Further, relationships are developing, and endorphins are brought to the forefront or endorphins get to the forefront. They increase the emotional "glow", because its effect leads to a condition similar to euphoria. Meanwhile, the effect of oxytocin remains. It creates the need to see and feel your loved one. This, in turn, leads to production of the new portion of endorphins.
This "vicious circle" of hormones is broken when the level of oxytocin decreases. It occurs in about 24 months and has purely physiological reasons. That is when a person feels "cooling" of love. Other feelings (respect, friendship, curiosity, sympathy, etc.) that stimulate oxytocin and endorphin production can help. Affection moves to the calmer and more restrained phase - love. Or it ends, if a person does not try to keep these feelings.
What can be done to extend the "life" of love? The answer lies in those actions that contribute to the growth of the level of happiness hormones in the body: oxytocin, endorphins, serotonin:
These seemingly simple actions from the chemical point of view contribute to the "release" of oxytocin, and launch a new "cycle of love" in relation to the same person. Is the possibility to transfer affection to the unquenchable love, from chemical, as well as emotional and psychological points of view?
Do you think the phrase about unhappy love “time heals” can have a “chemical” explanation?
Since love is not just about science but also feelings, it is interesting how it appears in various tales, legends, and myths. Sometimes myths are unique, sometimes it is possible to trace the succession among the myths of peoples and cultures, separated by time and distance.
Which of the gods-patrons of love are similar? What do you think, what explains this similarity?
The history of mankind is not only the history of wars, kings and empires. This history of conquests of different countries was often motivated by love. There were real epic dramas and human tragedies. Some of them had unexpectedly turned into celebrations.
Almost all cultures have festivals associated with love and its patrons. In some countries this holiday is called Valentine's Day.
For countries that profess Orthodoxy, there is the Saints Peter and Fevronia holiday. Midsummer is the pre-Christian holiday of lovers.
"Geography of Love".
In China a Love holiday is celebrated on the seventh day of the seventh month, according to the lunar calendar. The Qixi Festival is a holiday with very deep roots. Researchers say that it has been celebrated since the second century BC. It is one of the most popular holidays in China. On this day people prepare goodies, decorate yards, arrange high-profile fairs, during which people can buy special gifts and items for the holiday. Couples let lighted candles in the small wooden boats down the river, telling fortunes for a common destiny and making wishes. Girls tell fortunes for bridegroom on figurines made of melon crusts and sacrifice flowers, fruits and powder.
India has a love festival Diwali - Festival of Light. It is usually celebrated in autumn (northern hemisphere) or spring (southern hemisphere) every year. Diwali is one of the happiest holidays in India with significant preparations. It is believed that it is also a celebration of the union of the goddess Lakshmi and god Vishnu.
Valentine’s Day also has a specific "geographical" color, depending on a country. In Denmark lovers send each other dried white flowers or snowdrops.
In Spain it is accepted to send love letters sometimes even through pigeon post.
In Japan gifts are given not only to lovers but also to colleagues. This is mainly chocolates which received a special name - GURI-CHOCO.
Mexico celebrates Valentine's Day as a day of love and friendship. On this day there are traditional collective weddings when many couples get married.
In Yemen people also practice collective weddings, although not "bind" them to any particular holiday. This way in November 2013, 4,000 couples entered marriage. The wedding ceremonies in Sana, the capital of the country, was organized by a local charity organization. Given the tradition of Islam, men and women had separate celebrations. So, there are only men in this wedding photo.
Australia also celebrates Valentine’s Day. Colorful festivals are held on this day. Perfumed pads, decorated with fresh flowers, shells and feathers are considered traditional gifts. Every pad is a thing of art. Most pads are kept in special boxes, which are also decorated beautifully.
In Saudi Arabia, Valentine’s Day is a prohibited holiday, and violators have to pay huge fines.
Do you believe in love at first sight?
The culture and philosophy of humankind changed the attitude towards love, and the understanding of the phenomenon of «love».
An ancient era gave birth to the Philosophy of love. Pherecydes of Syros was the first, who spoke about the meaning of love. He believed that the world was created owing to love. In Plato's philosophy the concept of Eros already existed and meant: the force that “gives souls their wings back, that draws them to God and the Absolute."
Ancient philosophy divided "kinds of love":
These major types, mixed, gave birth to the new ones:
Agape: Unselfish devotion, when a person is “dissolved” in love.
As a substitute of Eros as the philosophy of love comes Agape. Agape is more consistent with Christian ethics and morality. Love becomes identical with the concepts of "mercy" and "compassion." This love is called "Caritas".
In the early Middle Ages a woman did not play an important role, she was "an addition to the property" which could be obtained as a dowry. But gradually she became the center of life, knight and court life above all things). The Beautiful Lady cult began to develop.
New cultural and philosophical concepts were born in Provence. Poems that troubadours had been composing at those times became the first works of "high literature" not written in Latin. Gradually, the image of the Beautiful lady and Mary the Virgin were mixed, and the concept of Agape was combined with Caritas.
One of the areas of Philosophy of love – Epistemology – began to develop at this time. The question: “Is love intelligent or not?" was the subject of consideration of this direction. The correlation of Love and Mind became central.
The concept of courtly love belongs to this period. It carried the concept of chivalrous nobility as the next stage in the development of medieval philosophy. Its characteristic was the "secrecy". Love wasn’t advertised. Courtly love should have encouraged self-improvement and development. At this time “love courts” appear: they estimated "truth" of feelings.
In the early modern period people began to explore how Love and Will interact with each other. Will became a central concept of philosophy. German classical philosophers (Kant, Hegel) concluded that love does not depend on our will. And that is why it cannot be the basis of morality (as opposed to the philosophy of the Middle Ages).
Humanity continues developing. Modern philosophy raises not only the question "What is love?" but also "Is there love in the twenty-first century?". Philosophy gives way to psychoanalysis, which considers the phenomenon of love in terms of psychology, complex emotional stimuli and the responses to them.
Also love is considered by modern philosophers and psychologists as motivated impetus to personal growth, self-improvement and development.
What idea of love is "closer" to you and why?
Is it true that "women fall in love with their ears", and "men with their eyes"? The answer lies in psychology, anatomy and physiology.
Indeed, these expressions have a piece of truth in them. Women have better developed left brain hemisphere although until recently it was believed to be the contrary.
Therefore, women need to share ideas and thoughts. They are more sensitive to sounds, hence, their hearing and speech center are better developed. That is why they also, “love with their ears".
Men, in reverse, have better developed vision, spatial representation, and spatial orientation). That is why men "love with their eyes".
Also tenderness and touch are important to women. It has a physiological and anatomical explanation, because women have several times more skin receptors than men. For example, on the face women have 34 nerve fibers per square centimeter of skin, and men have only 17.
Humans are not the only creatures capable of lifelong love. Birds, animals and even fish are able to build long term relationships. Here are some examples of permanent animal "couples":
What other animals or birds do you know, who form permanent pairs?