Love, Pumpkins, Mystery, and the Unknowable

This post is in reference to this post and this one, and the comment thread to each.  Each gives the background to what I hope to discuss here.  I give these references for context.  Anyone can read each and see the context in which each statement I will note here was made.  I want to make sure that everyone understands that I am not pulling anything out of context, but using it in the sense it was being made (even if there was a lot of misunderstanding at the same time).  If anyone thinks such is not the case, I invite them to please show how the context is not what I thought or how I misunderstood what was being stated (I could very well have). I do suggest anyone read the referenced posts and comment threads before or in conjunction with this post.
I am really interested in what I see going on here.  I see something being conceded in one conversation (that we have something extra or a “world beyond” the purely material available to all people, so we can show that even a naturalistic narrative could potentially produce what we see in the creation and evolution of western music and song), but then taken back in another (that there is nothing extra to love, it is complex- yes, but “hardly a mystery”).  So here I’m not interested in the assertions I made regarding music or mystery in either post, what I’m interested in now is what it exposed as to the reasoning process used to address each area by Bernard.
First, let’s look at the “love is hardly a mystery” statement.  I think Bernard finally realized how insufficient it was to claim there was hardly any mystery to love.  Thus, he thought it better to say there were aspects to love that were “unknowable.”  Fine.  If something has aspects to that are unknowable, there is mystery, right?  In my mind this was a semantic detail only.  I noted I was fine with using the term “unknowable” instead of “mystery”.  I’m happy to say that the Trinity is unknowable like love is unknowable, which is to say we can never know either exhaustively or in the same way we can know a pumpkin, or dark matter or gravity.  Still, he was then even unhappy with me agreeing to use the word “unknowable”.  Why?  My suspicion is this—because he means it (correct me if I’m wrong Bernard) in the sense of “we don’t know now, but we will at some point”—when I mean it as truly unknowable in any sort of final or exhaustive way, thus the mystery.  In other words, in this life, we will never-ever know what love or the Trinity means completely—there will always be some mystery- some unknown aspect left over, a remainder.  This is true now and will be true a thousand years from now.  If Bernard thinks we will eventually figure love out and it will be completely knowable (like a pumpkin), he should just say so.  But to admit such would be to claim at the same time that everything is reducible to the physical or material.  As an agnostic, Bernard cannot go there so I’m not sure how he can resolve this conflicting line of thought. 
To complicate matters though, we have Bernard saying that a pumpkin is like love in complexity but that there is “more” to love than a pumpkin.  I certainly agree with the “more” aspect.  But I have a rational for that, I believe in God, transcendence, a platonic reality.  Here is the telling statement:
“But, you say there is more to love’s mystery than the pumpkin. Fair enough. So do I.” -Bernard
There it is- the word “more”.  I think we will get around to people finally conceding that physical objects are not “like” abstract concepts like love, meaning, purpose, beauty, and the good, even though we may “naturally” and physically experience all those things, thus, there are clear category differences, so I’m going to let that go.
As a side note, the “complexity” part is not very helpful.  Yes love is extremely complex, but not in the way a modern internal combustion engine is complex or a nuclear power plant or a corn maze.  Love can’t be compared to the complexity of something in a completely different philosophical category of “being” or “thing”.  With most very complex physical objects, we can break them down piece by piece, even down to their atomic structure.  For obvious reasons, we cannot do this with love, meaning, purpose, beauty, and the good.  Otherwise, a person is saying there is no difference between a nuclear power plant and a person or between a pumpkin and love other than complexity.  Such would be a heavily disputed philosophical assertion and one only a philosophical naturalist could make.
If one is saying the only difference is the level of complexity but that both are the same category of thing (measurable/perceptible-in the same way a pumpkin is), then one is simply arguing the naturalist/atheist view.  Bernard has told us there is a difference, but then he seems to begin to understand the problem this creates and tries to then claim they are the same thing— just both unknowable and complex, in the same sense-same category of thing.  He still hasn’t resolved this discrepancy, this philosophical category error.  It is interesting that it took two different blog posts to reveal this conundrum, which I think is a problem for all serious atheists/agnostics.
So, where does that leave us?  Well, it goes further.  Bernard has made an amazing claim here when he notes:
“If physical means only measurable or perceptible, then most if not all non-believers would believe in a world beyond this narrow boundary. This type of mystery…”
First, I’m not sure what else “physical” could mean except the measurable and perceptible, right?  Anyway, I don’t think JP or Burk (correct me if I am wrong) believes there is something beyond the measurable or perceptible, because that is exactly where God could exist, right?  But notice that is where love (also beauty, meaning, and the good) would exist too and the capacity for artistic creation.  Yes, we experience love, meaning, purpose, and beauty, but such is not measurable or perceptible as physical objects/forces in and of themselves, such as we would pick up on a seismograph, brain scan or radar.  I doubt anyone would argue (other than a naturalist/atheist) that we can reduce love to the physiological changes in our bodies and outward behavior alone.  So once that door (that there is something beyond the narrow boundary of the measurable and perceptible) is open we would have to concede that God could indeed possibly exist.  Such is why most atheists want to leave that door closed.  But Bernard has opened it (he had to—to try and make his point that such aspects were also available to the atheist in regards to this quote:
 “If you remove the spiritual and metaphysical aspects from the history of song, there isn’t much left.”
Plus, we should note that as an agnostic, it makes sense for Bernard to believe there is something “more”, something beyond this “narrow” boundary and thus why he is agnostic.  He doesn’t claim to know what this “more” is, so he is agnostic, but he recognizes a “more” and is thus not an atheist.  Further, that is why this “more” and this “beyond” is mysterious and somewhat unknowable.  Unfortunately, this “more” is not open to the atheist and why we can then see that as a group probably would not have produced (I would argue anyway) certain forms of music and certain types of songs, because:  “If you remove the spiritual and metaphysical aspects from the history of song, there isn’t much left.”  Again though, let’s put that aside.  The interesting point here has become this “world beyond” that is needed in one conversation, but taken back (love is “hardly a mystery”) in another.  
So here are some questions I would like Bernard to address if he is willing.  Due to space and time, he may find it easier to do so on his own blog or one he creates just for this purpose, but we will leave that to him.  I would caution however that I would rather not get into a voluminous comment marathon for one blog post.  Also, I would ask that Bernard respond to my specific questions below before making any general sort of response, as too often, I’ve noticed in the past, it simply allows for the substance of the post to never be addressed.  So let me be clear: I will answer as many questions and points Bernard wishes to ask as to this post; I will even, if needed, devote an entire post to do so.  However, I would ask he first respond to the following questions and points in a substantive manner.  So here we go:
“But, you say there is more to love’s mystery than the pumpkin. Fair enough. So do I.”-Bernard
1. I agree. I think that this “more” is a spiritual/platonic/transcendent reality.  But, what does this “more” consist of for you?  If one is saying the only difference is the level of complexity but that both are the same category of thing (measurable/perceptible-in the same way a pumpkin is), then one is simply arguing the naturalist view.  If you are, just say so.  If not though, if you agree there is this “more” then why do you ask me to explain the difference between the mystery of love and that of a pumpkin, when you yourself are claiming there is one?  What is the difference then between love and a pumpkin?  A pumpkin is not complex in the same way love is complex, right (or maybe you agree with the naturalist and think it is)?  So what is the difference, what is the “more” unless you are just arguing the naturalist/atheist line and simply saying love is “more” complex than a pumpkin but the same category of thing?
Just a side note here, the first-person example of a “sneeze” as being what love is like utterly and completely fails.  It’s not even worthy of comment really.  Like the example of hunger, a sneeze is a purely physiological reflex that does not involve choice, free will, reason, reflection, differences of personality, culture, time, the full complexity of our emotions and other variations that are peculiar to being human.  One might as well say that love is like the first-person experience of passing gas or urinating.  To say such is to “reduce” love to the purely physical, which begs the question.  Where is the “more” then?  Love is a first person experience but not like hunger or sneezing (even when we say someone “hungers” for love, we know there is a difference from what is meant by that poetic, metaphorical description and actual physical hunger), in any significant manner whatsoever.  The first-person experience to sneezing is so unbelievably trivial, in comparison to the first-person experience of love (and all that has been written or depicted regarding that wonderful mystery), that we can only hope this example or analogy will be dropped swiftly.  It is an embarrassing comparison and beneath Bernard’s obvious intelligence and depth—it was probably thrown out there in a moment of distraction.
Moving on…
2. Do you agree there are differences between the mysteries physical objects hold as opposed to non-physical concepts like love? In other words, I’m sure you would agree we cannot see love on radar or reduce love to a brain scan, right?  Or, perhaps you don’t agree?  A naturalist/atheist could not agree there were any substantive or ontological differences between the two or any difference (a “more”) that referenced the spiritual or metaphysical.
Here are some questions regarding this statement:

“If physical means only measurable or perceptible, then most if not all non-believers would believe in a world beyond this narrow boundary. This type of mystery…”-Bernard
3. Please explain exactly what you mean by your above statement and how you are using the word “mystery” in the context of your statement.
4. This seems to be the same “narrow boundary” imposed by the empiricist, true?
5. While I think most people do believe what you are pointing out (“a world beyond”), I don’t think most atheists do.  For instance, I don’t think Burk or JP do.  Do you agree?
At one point you further clarified the above quote thus:
“…you’ve misread me. I’ve not made the leap from the existence of a world beyond our conception, to the conclusion that creativity (music in this case) is not entirely physical. Such a leap would require either evidence, or at the very least an interesting logical construction, and both elude me at this point.”
6. This “clarification” doesn’t make sense to me.  I’m assuming you included yourself in your first statement above and still believe there is a world “beyond” the purely measurable and perceptible, and you were noting this to show that non-believers could also then build spiritual and metaphysical aspects into song as well, right?  Well, what “evidence” would you accept then that wasn’t measurable or perceptible, as you put it in your clarification above?
7. Further, are you arguing that creativity is entirely physical, since otherwise it’s a “leap” that requires evidence and such “eludes” you?  Is that your argument?  A naturalist/atheist would also say that evidence and any logical argument eluded them too, right?
8. At one point in the comments you wrote this: “However, looking for mysteries where none exist, seems less useful.”  In the context of the atheist’s post regarding mystery, can you give an example of where you think someone is looking for a mystery where none need exist?  If you cannot, then how is your statement relevant to the post?  You must have been referencing something someone thought a mystery in the post.
While Bernard ponders those questions, here is what I think happened.  I think Bernard was caught in a contradiction of his own making, wanting there to be “a world beyond” only the physical to show the quote regarding the spiritual and metaphysical aspects to song was false.  At the same time however, he wanted to show that love could also be like other physical objects or physical processes, a pumpkin for instance, and thus no appeal was needed to anything beyond the physical to counter my assertion the Trinity was a mystery just like love is a mystery.  For some reason I think Bernard was sure the use of the word “mystery” was an attempt to smuggle in the supernatural or God.  Do I believe in those things, of course, as any casual reader of this blog would know.  I made fairly clear what I meant—it came in my response to Burk in the comment section where I noted that the Trinity is a mystery just like love is.  Here is what I wrote:
“You are confusing two different things. Dark energy and gravity are natural mysteries. The Trinity is a mystery like love is a mystery.”
This bothered Bernard because clearly he wanted to show that there was no mystery to love (“love is hardly a mystery”- he told us) and thus my Trinity comparison would fail, but all that has done is get him in trouble in relation to the “spiritual and metaphysical’ aspects pertinent to the conversation regarding music and song, where he needed the “world beyond”- the “more” than the purely measurable and perceptible.
Also, I should just say that I never have to smuggle or sneak God or the supernatural into anything.  That is the work of religious fundamentalists.  I see existence as entirely spiritual, with the material being the visible manifestation of such just as the body is the outward form of the soul.  I would think this rather obvious to anyone who has perused my blog for any length of time.
Even if all of physical existence finds its origin and existence in God, the “ground of all being”, and there is a spiritual aspect to existence, there is still an inherent personal aspect to love and the Trinity that doesn’t exist as to physical forces or objects.  Even if we say, “I love nature”, nature (the pumpkin) does not love us back or recognize our love.  We never mean we love nature in the same way we mean we love our family, friends, children, spouses, God, and so forth.  There is an inherent obvious difference here between natural mysteries, their unknowable aspect, and those associated with the love we have for others or God.    
To recap: First we were told by Bernard that there was “hardly” anything mysterious about love.  Then, we were told that there was “more” to the mystery of love than that of a pumpkin (What mystery?  Does anyone believe the pumpkin still holds great mysteries—ones spoken of in song, poetry, literature or even science?)  Further, we still haven’t been told by Bernard how there is “more” to the mystery of love (which I agree there is) than that of a pumpkin or what he means.  If he was saying the “more” is just that love is a more complex but still physically based process, emotion, chemical reaction, neurons firing, what-have-you, he would simply be parroting the naturalist view. He would still be reducing love to something purely physical-just more or less complex.  I don’t believe he can take that view, because then he would not be agnostic but a naturalist/atheist.
Second, a philosophical naturalist believes the physical/material is all that exists—it is inherently atheistic.  If Bernard doesn’t allow for some remainder, something left over beyond the purely physical/material, something “more”, then there is no difference in what he is arguing and what a naturalist/atheist would argue.  See the problem?  We were also told, at the same time, in reference to the music issue that there was a “world beyond” the purely measurable and perceptible (which is a “narrow” boundary).  Hopefully we can see here that two different tracks of thought, like two trains, have collided because only one of these trains can be on the same track at the same time.  There is either something “more” (beyond mere complexity) or there is “hardly” a mystery to love at all, and all will or can be known eventually through our own efforts (science, I guess?).  It can’t be both of these things however.
We will find out more regarding what Bernard really believes if he is willing to address the above questions. At some points, Bernard’s comments seem to suggest he knows love to be something that can be, or will eventually be, explained in purely natural or scientific terms, without recourse to any metaphysical, transcendent, platonic, or spiritual component or argument.  But as an agnostic, he can’t know that—that would presume those aspects did not exist.  Those are the very components and arguments that go to God existing or not—or objective morals existing.  Whether those aspects exist as to love too, he must claim ignorance to remain agnostic.
Anyway, perhaps I have completely misunderstood everything Bernard was telling us.  Always a possibility.  If so, I’m sure Bernard will set us straight.
I should say this as well.  I’m not trying to “catch” Bernard here or prove I am right and he is wrong.  Frankly, I could care less.  If Bernard wants to believe love songs and music as we know those things (the different forms) could have been produced by a naturalistic narrative, fine.  I disagree.  That was a minor point in a “Friday Roundup” post, which is an informal rambling regarding items of interest to me and not a substantive post.  But the other issues that have arisen in his defense of that musing are much more interesting—and revealing—thus this post (what was also very revealing, which was picked up by Ron, was the example of unalienable human rights given at one point, with the quick qualification of those rights perhaps not being “universal”—chew on that for a while—do some humans not have those rights?).  And if he wants to believe there really is no difference between the mystery of love and that of a pumpkin, or assert they are both unknowable in the same way (different level of complexity is all, which is still a reduction to the physical alone), then frankly I feel sorry for anyone whose world-view/narrative would constrain them (“narrow boundary”) to believe such a thing.  On one level, it is comical (I keep imagining a man telling his girlfriend his love for her is complex, unknowable, mysterious, like that of a pumpkin), on another though, very sad.  Putting all that aside, what I’m hoping for Bernard to see here is how contradicting a purely empirical world-view/narrative can be when one tries to address the areas brought up in the two posts (love, mystery, certainty, and the spiritual and metaphysical aspects to music/creativity).  I think the contradictions and inconsistencies are there and very telling.

If he is willing, I look forward to Bernard’s responses.
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192 Responses to Love, Pumpkins, Mystery, and the Unknowable

  1. Darrell says:

    JP,

    Since we all agree that there is much about reality we don't know and much that remains mysterious/inexplicable, since you agree with Bernard that, for some reason, love is no more mysterious than a sneeze, rolling pumpkins, cars, and such you are welcome to address the same points and questions I've put to him regarding why I think love is different, more mysterious, than physical objects, physiological reflexes, and so on.

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  2. Hi Darrell

    As best I can tell, you are arguing that the mind is mysterious. I agree with this, we do not fully understand the mind. It is an excellent example of mystery. We do not yet know whether it reduces entirely to the physical, or whether a model that goes beyond our current understanding of the world is required to understand it. Perhaps we never will. Furthermore, we can see this in terms of qualia and intentionality, as you say. We do not disagree with this.

    Other items on your list, like choice, rationality, desire, may not qualify for the term inexplicable in quite the same way, but let's not split straws. What is agreed is that elements of consciousness are mysterious.

    Now, if you are arguing love is mysterious because it involves these things (and it certainly does) then you are arguing love is mysterious in precisely the same way that anything involving qualia and intentionality is mysterious. It is mysterious in precisely the same way that hunger is mysterious, for example. Note that this is not to say there are no differences between love and hunger, only that the things you identify as mysterious about love apply equally to hunger (and indeed most human experience).

    This, then, is an unusual way of speaking. If I say my house is mysterious, you would expect I am referring to something unusual about my house. If the mystery turns out to be that it has conscious beings in it, and consciousness is mysterious, then this strikes me as a misleading way of speaking.

    The car analogy matters because it highlights the problem in arguing that love is mysterious because of its spiritual element. We can get there only by pre-supposing our conclusion (that love has a spiritual element is exactly the mystery we are attempting to establish).

    Nevertheless, thank you for your patience, as we have clarified a great deal here. We are very close to agreeing that love is mysterious in the way that hunger is. If you resist this conclusion, the trick will be to identify some element of love that is both different from hunger, and mysterious.

    Bernard

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  3. Darrell says:

    An interesting side note to all this. Whether one is arguing there is hardly any mystery to love (Bernard’s original assertion) or whether one is arguing, that, well, yes—love is mysterious but no more mysterious than a sneeze, a rolling pumpkin, cars, and so on (Bernard’s current assertion), the consistent theme here is to reduce love, to make it less or the same as everything else.

    This is exactly what we get if one believes the physical is all that exists. We cannot differentiate. The idea there are different philosophical categories (something believed in the west since Aristotle) disappears, because all is only an aspect of the physical—all is material. This is exactly why Bernard and JP need to know how or why love is any different. It raises the question of whether or not the physical is all that exists—it is the very question raised by our having consciousness (minds) with purely mental contents.

    Again, the problem with that is noted here:

    “But for ontological naturalism – or better, restrictive naturalism – this simply cannot be the case because the very entities to which we ascribe such terms do not exist. We are left in a world that consists solely in the physical or the material. Consequently, what we see before our eyes is merely the agitation of matter; now thus, now so. That remains the case whether such agitation is that of murder, rape, cancer, war, famine, love or joy, birth or death.” –Conor Cunningham

    So we see the two extremes that Bernard and JP have to swing back and forth, which is another reason this view is problematic. Either love is hardly mysterious or everything is mysterious. There is no way to differentiate between anything whether love, war, pumpkins, sneezes, or what-have-you. Thus, the either/or of modernity. This is really fascinating to watch play out. I knew if we could juxtapose Bernard’s assertions regarding love and the ones about music and song, we could probably see this play out and I haven’t been disappointed.

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  4. Darrell says:

    Hi Bernard,

    “As best I can tell, you are arguing that the mind is mysterious.”

    No, I’m arguing that love is mysterious. You and JP are smart enough and have been in enough conversations to know that this would obviously entail the mind—why would I even need to point this out? So yes, it clearly is involved in such.

    “It is mysterious in precisely the same way that hunger is mysterious, for example. Note that this is not to say there are no differences between love and hunger, only that the things you identify as mysterious about love apply equally to hunger (and indeed most human experience).”

    The above makes no sense. First you say they are precisely mysterious in the same way. But then you note there is difference. But then, that everything applies equally. First of all, I disagree, and I’ve noted why many times now. Hunger does not involve intentionality in the same way loves does. If we do not eat, we die. We have no control over whether we want to get hungry not and it is not relational. Love is not like that. Again, this is obvious.

    But, you say there is a difference. I agree. What is the difference then?

    “This, then, is an unusual way of speaking. If I say my house is mysterious, you would expect I am referring to something unusual about my house. If the mystery turns out to be that it has conscious beings in it, and consciousness is mysterious, then this strikes me as a misleading way of speaking.”

    This analogy fails for the same reasons I’ve already given. No one would compare (like you are doing) a physical object with human consciousness, what it is “like” to be alive. A house has none of those features. Thus, no one would talk this way. Everyone, from the person on the street to the professor in college understands, in some fashion, what someone means when they say love is mysterious.

    “The car analogy matters because it highlights the problem in arguing that love is mysterious because of its spiritual element. We can get there only by pre-supposing our conclusion (that love has a spiritual element is exactly the mystery we are attempting to establish).”

    Already addressed: A car is not like love. The only reason we could not suppose love has a spiritual element is if we presupposed love could be reduced to the physical, like a car can. Since we know that love cannot be reduced to the physical, it is reasonable to infer there may be a spiritual element and we also avoid making love like everything other event or movement of matter.

    “Nevertheless, thank you for your patience, as we have clarified a great deal here. We are very close to agreeing that love is mysterious in the way that hunger is. If you resist this conclusion, the trick will be to identify some element of love that is both different from hunger, and mysterious.”

    It is not like hunger and I have identified the element over and over now. But this is interesting, so I am happy to stay with this. I think it you continue to work through the differences, you will begin to see that your view is forcing you into an unhealthy (and I think false) choice, between there being no mystery or everything being mysterious.

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  5. JP says:

    Hi Darrell,

    Love is a pretty complicated subject, we all agree.

    I would suggest as a way forward that you choose a simpler example of something that is mysterious for the same reason you think love is mysterious. The simpler the better. The simplest you can think of.

    I believe this would greatly help the discussion.

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  6. Darrell says:

    Also Bernard,

    I should also point out that hunger fails even your own test (or noted difference) of the incalculable complexity of human relations. If I am hungry, I eat. I don’t need another person involved. No one says, “I need love” and then…falls in love. We eat. We get hungry again. We eat again. Human love is not like this at all unless you are reducing love to procreation or the reproductive act. So it is actually you who are talking about hunger (in trying to relate it to love) in a very odd way—a way no one would talk about it. We don’t need to “intend” to get hungry. We have no choice. We give it no thought, introspection, reason, or emotion—we simply get hungry. This is simply not true with love. There are huge differences here. Huge.

    Of course I should add only a naturalist/materialist would talk this way, but you have said you are not speaking that way…so…here again are contradictions or views that simply force one into either /or thinking…

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  7. Darrell says:

    Hi JP,

    “Love is a pretty complicated subject, we all agree.”

    But we don’t agree. Because you and Bernard are telling me it’s no more complicated than a sneeze or passing gas. Those examples are not very complicated and don’t even fall into the same type of qualia. Poets have not spent centuries plumbing the depths of sneezing. Do you see how holding on as you and Bernard are doing to trying to show there is no difference begins to look a little silly?

    I doubt there is any simpler example. Simple things tend to not be too mysterious, right? I think I will keep with my argument–I have yet to hear a plausible explanation for how love is no more mysterious than a sneeze, hunger, pumpkins, or cars (and houses now).

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  8. Hi Darrell

    It may well be best to see this less as an argument, and more an attempt to reach a common understanding. We may never agree on whether or to mysterious is a good word to describe love, as the use of these sorts of words, in the end has a subjective element. We can, nevertheless, hope to understand why each uses the word in the way we do.

    So, the difference between hunger and love is helpful, as I don't immediately any way in which love is more mysterious than hunger. You apparently do, and so unwrapping this might help. I don't tend to describe hunger as mysterious either, and it's possible that neither do you. If this is the case, then you have in mind something that is mysterious about love, but not about hunger.

    Maybe we can find that. Here's what you currently offer:
    “Hunger does not involve intentionality in the same way loves does. If we do not eat, we die. We have no control over whether we want to get hungry not and it is not relational. Love is not like that. Again, this is obvious.”

    If we start with intentionality, ten we're possibly using the word differently. Hunger certainly has an aboutness. I can hunger for a particular thing, imagine it, contemplate it in the abstract, and this is where the mystery, to the extent it exists, readies. Where is the extra mystery here?

    You say we have no control over whether we get hungry. This is true, yet we do have control over how we eat – we make choices, plans etc. I personally don't see free will as particularly mysterious, but even if it is, then we certainly make use of it in terms of hunger. And of course, sometimes we fall in love despite not wanting to (just as hunger strikers sometimes deny their hunger). I'm looking for where the extra mystery gets in, and can't see it here.

    You also say hunger is not relational. While it is not immediately clear what you mean here (that love involves relations between people?) I'm also not seeing how this makes love any more mysterious. Hunger very often involves relations between people too. The way we get, prepare and share out food to satiate hunger is deeply social.

    What I've been getting at all along is that it is clear you find something particularly mysterious about love, but the things you offer don't yet seem to distinguish love from other activities. If love is indeed more mysterious than hunger, I'm interested to know how.

    Bernard

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  9. Darrell says:

    Hi Bernard,

    “It may well be best to see this less as an argument, and more an attempt to reach a common understanding.”

    I agree. But I think you are going to need to question your presuppositions more than you are here to reach a common understanding. I, on the other hand, have made mine clear.

    “We may never agree on whether or to mysterious is a good word to describe love, as the use of these sorts of words, in the end has a subjective element. We can, nevertheless, hope to understand why each uses the word in the way we do.”

    Agreed. But remember the greater point. Fundamentalists (whether secular or religious) seek certainty and fear mystery. That was the point of that post.

    “Hunger does not involve intentionality in the same way loves does. If we do not eat, we die. We have no control over whether we want to get hungry not and it is not relational. Love is not like that. Again, this is obvious.” -Darrell

    “If we start with intentionality, ten we're possibly using the word differently.”

    We can’t just use the word any way we want. As I have said, I am using the word in the sense it is used when philosophers of mind use it to talk about qualitative differences within the general boundaries of what we call qualia.

    “Hunger certainly has an aboutness. I can hunger for a particular thing, imagine it, contemplate it in the abstract, and this is where the mystery, to the extent it exists, readies. Where is the extra mystery here?”

    I don’t think there is any mystery to hunger. I think science and what we know biologically give us enough information about this biologic urge (needed to survive) to not think it mysterious, even if we might not know exhaustively in a scientific way all there is to know about hunger.

    “You say we have no control over whether we get hungry. This is true, yet we do have control over how we eat – we make choices, plans etc.”

    Those are two different things. You are confusing choice, free-will, with a biological urge we have no control over—not the same thing.

    “I personally don't see free will as particularly mysterious, but even if it is, then we certainly make use of it in terms of hunger.”

    See, this is what I mean. You now need “free-will” to try and make your point just like you needed a spiritual element and a “world beyond” to make your point regarding music and song. But again, you are confusing two things.

    “And of course, sometimes we fall in love despite not wanting to (just as hunger strikers sometimes deny their hunger). I'm looking for where the extra mystery gets in, and can't see it here.”

    There is not an “extra” mystery here “getting in”. There is no mystery to hunger. If we don’t eat, we die. It is a biological urge we have no control over, we simply manage it. Further, we do fall in love sometimes despite wanting to, but we then have choices and there is an intentionality involved that is missing as to the biological urge to eat. Otherwise, you would be saying we have no control over our “falling in love” and thus wouldn’t be responsible for any action taken in the name of “love”.

    Let me give you an example. People have been driven to cannibalism over hunger. But unless murder was involved, we normally (even given our repulsion) allow for this knowing it may have been the only way for them to survive. We would never allow this because someone was “starving for love” and committed some horrific act because they were “in love” and had no control. We know they do have control—there is an intentionality here, which is missing from biological urges necessary to survive. This is another reason your example fails.

    (Continued)

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  10. Darrell says:

    (Continued)

    “You also say hunger is not relational. While it is not immediately clear what you mean here (that love involves relations between people?) I'm also not seeing how this makes love any more mysterious. Hunger very often involves relations between people too. The way we get, prepare and share out food to satiate hunger is deeply social.”

    Again, you are confusing free-will, intentionality, choice, with biological urges which we have no control over. You are not talking about hunger; you are talking about the choices people make around the cultural act of eating together-breaking bread. In fact, you are talking about love—the deeply social aspect to sharing meals together. You are actually making my point. Do you see this?

    Clearly then there is a huge difference between our biological urges and love and as you have had to address my points regarding hunger, we see now that you needed to actually use my very argument and talk about the deeply social and people being together. This is an aspect of love, not hunger. People did not get together (the intentional) because they were hungry (they could have satisfied their hunger by eating alone)—they got together because of love.

    So this is very good Bernard. Hopefully you are beginning to see that a purely mechanistic view of the world one that believes it is entirely physical/material then has a hard time differentiating between things, categories, qualia, and every other thing in fact. I would think an agnostic, to the claim that love is mysterious because of what we don't know about our conscious minds and its origin in the spiritual, would reply, “Interesting, the conscious mind is still a mystery and I don't know if there is a spiritual element to existence, so it's possible, yes.” So I am still baffled by your responses here, which seem to mirror exactly what we would expect from a strict naturalist/materialist. You may want to ponder that.

    Love is mysterious; hunger is not, for the many reasons I have pointed out. I have just asserted a very common thing—something most, if not all, would understand and agree with.

    Please feel free to try and show love isn’t any more mysterious than hunger, rolling pumpkins, sneezes, cars, or houses but you may want to sit back a moment and ask yourself why this is so important to you. And as you do so, think about my original post and the need for certainty and fear of mystery.

    Like

  11. Hi Darrell

    Looking at your responses here, it seems that you are saying love is mysterious (in a way that hunger is not) because it involves us making active choices.

    I'd suggest three things. First, it's not at all clear that love is any more about active choices then any other emotion or feeling. I certainly make active choices as to what meal to prepare to serve my hunger.

    Second, this is not the mystery of love, it is the mystery of free will, which is why I wouldn't personally use the word mysterious to describe love. Better, if I found it mysterious, to say I found choice mysterious.

    Third, I don't find choice mysterious. Choice seems to become mysterious where we seek to endow it with the free will notion of the originating act which, I assert, is in fact an incoherent notion – not so much mysterious as hopelessly muddled.

    To finish then, you end with this:
    ” I would think an agnostic, to the claim that love is mysterious because of what we don't know about our conscious minds and its origin in the spiritual, would reply, “Interesting, the conscious mind is still a mystery and I don't know if there is a spiritual element to existence, so it's possible, yes.””

    Actually, I would reply, as an agnostic – yes, the conscious mind is a mystery, and so we should use the word mysterious to describe this. In this sense, everything that involves the conscious mind is mysterious, from sneezing to planning dinner. However, when we say love is mysterious, we are leading the listener to believe we have found some extra mystery residing in love. And I don't yet see what that mystery might be, for the reasons I've offered above.

    Does that make sense?

    Bernard

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  12. Darrell says:

    Hi Bernard,

    “Looking at your responses here, it seems that you are saying love is mysterious (in a way that hunger is not) because it involves us making active choices.”

    Bernard, this is where you get in trouble. Instead of quoting exactly what I wrote, you try and summarize and we end up in a loop because you end of repeating the very issues I already addressed.

    “First, it's not at all clear that love is any more about active choices then any other emotion or feeling. I certainly make active choices as to what meal to prepare to serve my hunger.”

    Of course it is. No one believes choosing what meal to prepare is on the same par as choosing a life-mate or choosing to love perhaps an unlovable person. The differences are very clear. What reasonable person is going to say any active choice, no matter how trivial, is like the choosing involved with love? No one.

    “Second, this is not the mystery of love, it is the mystery of free will, which is why I wouldn't personally use the word mysterious to describe love. Better, if I found it mysterious, to say I found choice mysterious.”

    It is the mystery of love because not all choices are the same or involve the same level of complexity, relation, desire, reason, and will. Choosing what movie to watch is hardly the same as choosing a life-mate. We already discussed the fact it is all a part of the mystery of consciousness—but love is still mysterious in a different way than the other qualia. We’ve noted this already. However you choose to come at it, doesn’t change that fact.

    “Third, I don't find choice mysterious. Choice seems to become mysterious where we seek to endow it with the free will notion of the originating act which, I assert, is in fact an incoherent notion – not so much mysterious as hopelessly muddled.”

    You miss the point. The point was you needed the idea of free-will, intentionality, to try and show that hunger was like love, but then we saw you weren’t really talking about hunger but about choice and intentionality. You need to address what I actually wrote.

    “Actually, I would reply, as an agnostic – yes, the conscious mind is a mystery…

    Choice is bound up in the conscious mind. Above you tell us you don’t find choice mysterious and here you tell us the conscious mind is a mystery. Everyone knows that what partly makes it a mystery is the concept of free-will or choice/intentionality.

    If one is a mystery so is the other. I will make the further point you are the one who brought up choice in your example of hunger, again, trying to show how it was like love. What you were really talking about was intentionality, not hunger. Thus, you made my very point.

    Everything else you write, I just addressed in my last response. I think you are wrong for all the reasons I’ve noted. You have yet to demonstrate that love is like any of these other things, in the slightest. Now, as we’ve discovered all your examples fail, you try to tell us that this is really a free-will issue. Well, such is still a mystery. You haven’t figured free-will out and neither has science. You are still stuck with mystery, so your point?

    If you want to truly engage my last response, then please do. Otherwise, it appears you have nothing more to say here—you are just repeating yourself.

    Again, this is fascinating to see play out. You are unable to differentiate between choosing roast beef and choosing a life-mate, sneezes, hunger, and so on. And when you tried to show hunger was like love, you had to involve intentionality/choice/free-will, to try and avoid my critique, but in doing so only proved my point. This is the same thing you had to do to try and show atheists could draw upon and experience the spiritual and world “beyond”.

    I’m not sure where you go from here; everything you’ve tried has failed. In your view, either everything is mysterious or nothing is. This is the conundrum you find yourself.

    So where do you go from here?

    Like

  13. Hi Darrell

    “No one believes choosing what meal to prepare is on the same par as choosing a life-mate or choosing to love perhaps an unlovable person. The differences are very clear.”
    But is one type of choice inherently more mysterious, is the question. I don't see how.

    “Choosing what movie to watch is hardly the same as choosing a life-mate.”
    Same issue. In what way is the second type of choice more mysterious?

    “Everyone knows that what partly makes it a mystery is the concept of free-will or choice/intentionality.”
    Intentionality and choice are entirely different things. You may be confusing the philosophical use of the term intentionality with the everyday use of intention. Everyone knows…. is not an excellent sign for an argument beginning.

    If you wish to engage with my critique of libertarian free will, please do. To simply dismiss it as wrong without an argument is not particularly persuasive. It's a mainstream argument I'm offering.

    Beyond your optimistic assessment that I keep failing, are we any closer to you identifying what makes love particularly mysterious? You can show that love is different for other experiences (all experiences are different for other experiences) but need to do a little more, by showing that within these differences there resides a particular mystery.

    Unfortunately, choice and intentionality can be found all over the shop (in hunger for example) and none of the differences you offer bring in a new mystery, as best I can see.

    Bernard

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  14. Darrell says:

    Hi Bernard,

    “But is one type of choice inherently more mysterious, is the question. I don't see how.”

    It isn’t the choosing that is mysterious, unless one is now diverting to the issue of free-will. Certainly that area is a mystery too (but I repeat myself). Why aren’t you addressing the issue that you went from biological urge to intentionality to try and show hunger was the same as love? Why not address the fact we found you actually making an intentionality argument based upon being with others, sociality (love) rather than an argument based upon a biological urge? Your silence there is very telling.

    “Intentionality and choice are entirely different things.”

    You are the one who is using the term “choice” not me. I’ve been using the term “intentionality” and I’ve given you links to know what I’m talking about. Putting that aside, again, everyone does know that choosing what meal to prepare is not on the same par as choosing a life-mate or choosing to love perhaps an unlovable person.

    “If you wish to engage with my critique of libertarian free will, please do.”

    I’m fine with the discussion we are having, if you feel you need to go in a different direction please do. But if so, why? What happen to your other arguments?

    “Beyond your optimistic assessment that I keep failing, are we any closer to you identifying what makes love particularly mysterious?”

    Yes, this is clear from the fact all your examples don’t meet the same criteria of intentionality, introspection, desire, will, reason, relation, and so on.

    “Unfortunately, choice and intentionality can be found all over the shop (in hunger for example) and none of the differences you offer bring in a new mystery, as best I can see.”

    I will repeat myself. It isn’t a “new” mystery. There is no mystery to hunger—there is to love for all the reasons I’ve given you and the fact you have yet to show how love is just like all these other examples you keep giving. Every example you’ve given doesn’t meet the criteria noted. Intentionality is not found all over the shop, certainly not in hunger. We don't “intend” to get hungry, we just do. Like you noted, we intend to be with others, to share bread, to love. You are welcome go back an truly engage my previous response, otherwise, what now?

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  15. Hi Darrell

    I think you're speaking of intensionality (a slightly different spelling) which refers, in rough terms, to the meaning of a statement, as opposed to its extension (the reality to which it refers). There may well be mystery here, certainly there's controversy, but it relates to all concepts, beliefs, prepositions and so forth, and doesn't seem to fit neatly into any argument about hunger vs love (both having intensionality in this sense).

    Note I'm not trying to say that hunger and love are the same. I'm simply interested in where you see mystery in love, but none in hunger, as you see to suggest love is more mysterious. Yet, the examples you offer either apply both to love and hunger, or are not at all mysterious.

    If you are indeed referring to intention, then I'm not at all sure where the mystery is. That I should have an aim does not of itself seem mysterious. And of course I can apply these aims to most things. I can aim to go hungry tomorrow, or to go looking for love. Love can sneak up unannounced, and there's nothing I can do about it, as is the case with hunger.

    Is there an important send in which we must engage our free will in matters of love, that doesn't apply to hunger? I make choices regarding how to go about meeting my nutritional needs, right down to the choices I make regarding paid employment, for example, and I certainly make choices in matters of love. I make choices about how to serve my hunger, given my knowledge of nutritional requirements, and similarly at times I might override emotional desires in the interests of some greater goal.

    If you wish to argue love is mysterious, you need to find at least one instance in which some mysterious element emerges when dealing with love, that would not be true if the issue at stake were feeding oneself. Simply claiming there is a difference, or repeating there is no mystery to hunger (I agree) doesn't help me see your case.

    I think (hope) you understand that showing love and hunger are different is not the goal (I readily accept this, of course). What your argument requires is a concrete way of showing how this difference leads to mystery in one case and not the other. When you give an example, maybe try to explain how the thing you've identified resists everyday explanation, so that there is no doubt about the mystery in question.

    If you identify such an example I will, at the very least, be able to understand what it is you're trying to say on this. If the example olds, I may well end up agreeing with you.

    Bernard

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  16. Darrell says:

    Hi Bernard,

    We need to back-track a little because you have left quite a bit unaddressed:

    First, you note here: “Note I'm not trying to say that hunger and love are the same.”

    And you noted here: “It is mysterious in precisely the same way that hunger is mysterious, for example. Note that this is not to say there are no differences between love and hunger, only that the things you identify as mysterious about love apply equally to hunger (and indeed most human experience).”

    So you note love and hunger are not the same and that there are differences, but none that would make one more mysterious than the other. What then do you think is the difference between the two and how, to you, are they not the same?

    Second, you noted here: “You also say hunger is not relational. While it is not immediately clear what you mean here (that love involves relations between people?) I'm also not seeing how this makes love any more mysterious. Hunger very often involves relations between people too. The way we get, prepare and share out food to satiate hunger is deeply social.”

    Do you recognize that you switched from talking about hunger to talking about the “deeply social”? We are not deeply social (as aspect of love) because we get hungry and need to eat. We do that regardless of whether we are alone or with people. Others have no effect upon our getting hungry or not—we will either way. The hunger aspect has nothing to do with our being deeply social beings.

    Please address the fact that the social aspect doesn’t show that hunger is like love. And that very aspect, the deeply social aspect of love, does make it more mysterious than our biological urge of needing to eat to survive.

    Finally, I will try and make this clear one last time: All the examples you have given, including hunger, fail to incorporate intentionality, introspection, deep desire/emotion, choice/free-will, reason, and the “incalculable complexity” of the relational.

    If you can show that even one example you’ve given, whether rolling pumpkins, sneezes, hunger, or whatever else meets all these criteria, then you may have a case for saying that love is no more mysterious than your examples. Otherwise, I think I am safe to say that there are aspects to love that make it more mysterious/inexplicable than your examples.

    Of course, this doesn’t even take into consideration the spiritual aspect, but even without such I think we could still say that love is a mystery, which even many atheists and agnostics have no problem saying.

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  17. HI Darrell

    What you assert is a mysteriousness to love. So, let's look at what you offer:

    “All the examples you have given, including hunger, fail to incorporate intentionality, introspection, deep desire/emotion, choice/free-will, reason, and the “incalculable complexity” of the relational.”

    Intentionality – Hunger certainly involves both intensionality, and intentionality, as much as love. Further, you're yet to be clear on which intentionality you are referring to, nor where the mystery with it resides.

    Introspection. Well, I can be introspective about my hunger (am I really hungry right now, or just bored?) as I can about love.

    Deep desire/emotion. Yep, desire when you're starving, you bet. Emotion. Well, is this mysterious? in what way?

    Choice/free will. I'm not convinced this is mysterious, but if it is, then we make choices regarding hunger all the time.

    Incalculable complexity of the rational. Is this mysterious? Only in the mysteriousness of all complexity, which you're rejected with regard to our rolling pumpkin. Furthermore, in what way is our interaction with love more rational than with hunger?

    So, is there some aspect of love that is both mysterious, and not applicable to hunger? I can't see one, and so argue that love is precisely as mysterious as hunger is, which hardly need make the two urges identical. I think a bus is as mysterious as a car, but this does not imply I think cars are identical to buses. I just don't see anything particularly mysterious about one that does not apply to the other.

    So, where does this mysteriousness you find in love manifest itself? Why not take whichever of the above points (free will, intensionality, rationality, desire, introspection) you think best serves your case, and try to show how it is both mysterious and applicable to love but not hunger.

    Bernard

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  18. Darrell says:

    Hi Bernard,

    “All the examples you have given, including hunger, fail to incorporate intentionality, introspection, deep desire/emotion, choice/free-will, reason, and the “incalculable complexity” of the relational.” -Darrell

    “Intentionality – Hunger certainly involves both intensionality, and intentionality, as much as love. Further, you're yet to be clear on which intentionality you are referring to, nor where the mystery with it resides.”

    I mean what was noted in the example I gave you. Here it is again:

    “So right now I am thinking about a dog, but no presently existing dog. My thinking has intentional content. It is an instance of what philosophers call intentionality. My act of thinking takes an object, or has an accusative. It exhibits aboutness or of-ness in the way a pain quale [or sneeze] does not exhibit aboutness of of-ness. It is important to realize that my thinking is intrinsically such as to be about a dog: the aboutness is not parasitic upon an external relation to an actual dog [or to a physiological reflex]…”

    If you are speaking of hunger as the biological urge, it has a physical sensation like pain quale and has physical effects (we can die if we don’t eat, we can get fat, etc.), whereas intentionality is the purely mental act of taking an object but not one in relation to an actual object—or actual pain, whatever that may be. While love often seems like it affects us physically, we know it doesn’t do so in the way hunger does (and even if it does affect us physically, no doctor is going to tell us, “I think this part of you (as she points to a part of the body or brain scan) hurts or feels this way because of love”.

    “Introspection. Well, I can be introspective about my hunger (am I really hungry right now, or just bored?) as I can about love.”

    We can be introspective about anything. That doesn’t make everything the same or one or the other less or more mysterious. You are making my point; you note that “I can be…” But you can’t be- not hungry. I feel hunger, I get something to eat. Not much introspection needed there, if any. Introspection is not necessary for hunger, the biological urge, any more than it is for sneezing. The moment one begins to think about love, how it feels, who the object is, and a myriad of other aspects—the introspective aspect becomes intrinsic. Not so for hunger. Unless, one is just assuming that love is a biological urge like hunger…

    “Deep desire/emotion. Yep, desire when you're starving, you bet. Emotion. Well, is this mysterious? in what way?”

    If you are starving and don’t eat, you die. The desire is simply to live—it is purely mechanistic. That is not the same sort of desire or need involved in love. The desire of love is something I can make choices regarding and involves introspection.

    “Choice/free will. I'm not convinced this is mysterious, but if it is, then we make choices regarding hunger all the time.”

    Again, making choices has nothing to do with the hunger part. We can’t choose not to be hungry, hunger is not a choice. I can’t say, “Today, I’m not going to get hungry”. Choosing what to eat is not a choice about getting hungry or not. Love, on the other hand, is always a choice.

    “Incalculable complexity of the rational. Is this mysterious? Only in the mysteriousness of all complexity, which you're rejected with regard to our rolling pumpkin. Furthermore, in what way is our interaction with love more rational than with hunger?”

    How is a pumpkin rolling down a hill relational? You did see I wrote “relational”? You are the one who used the phrase incalculable complexity—or something similar. If something is incalculable, yes, I would call that mysterious. It is not our interaction with love, but others. So, your example fails here too.

    (Continued)

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  19. Darrell says:

    (Continued)

    “So, is there some aspect of love that is both mysterious, and not applicable to hunger? I can't see one, and so argue that love is precisely as mysterious as hunger is, which hardly need make the two urges identical. I think a bus is as mysterious as a car, but this does not imply I think cars are identical to buses. I just don't see anything particularly mysterious about one that does not apply to the other.”

    How about they are both physical objects? Why is a bus or car mysterious? I will ask again: What then is the difference you yourself note there is between love and hunger?

    And please address my other questions:

    Second, you noted here: “You also say hunger is not relational. While it is not immediately clear what you mean here (that love involves relations between people?) I'm also not seeing how this makes love any more mysterious. Hunger very often involves relations between people too. The way we get, prepare and share out food to satiate hunger is deeply social.” -Bernard

    Do you recognize that you switched from talking about hunger to talking about the “deeply social”? We are not deeply social (as aspect of love) because we get hungry and need to eat. We do that regardless of whether we are alone or with people. Others have no effect upon our getting hungry or not—we will either way. The hunger aspect has nothing to do with our being deeply social beings.

    Please address the fact that the social aspect doesn’t show that hunger is like love. And that very aspect, the deeply social aspect of love, does make it more mysterious than our biological urge of needing to eat to survive.

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  20. Hi Darrell

    Good, this is much more like it. We are down to the nuts and bolts.

    I think I simply am making quite different assumptions to you about the nature of love. Perhaps we can bring these to the surface a little:

    “While love often seems like it affects us physically, we know it doesn’t do so in the way hunger does.”

    Do we? Both have a strong biological component. When we fall in love, oxytocin, for example, plays a key role in bond formation. Both hunger and love have a strong physiological underpinning.

    Now, intensionality, or the act of reference, can occur for both. I can think about love, and I can think about my hunger. Both are abstractions and as such have intensionality. I don't see where the difference, with reference to intensionality, lies. Are you able to explain this?

    “The moment one begins to think about love, how it feels, who the object is, and a myriad of other aspects—the introspective aspect becomes intrinsic.”
    This is true. As soon as one begins to think about love (or indeed anything) it becomes intrinsically introspective. The same is true, therefore, for hunger. One can feel hunger, without thinking about it, of course. The same is true of love, the experience can be entirely visceral. We're looking for a difference here, and I'm not convinced you've established one.

    ” The desire is simply to live—it is purely mechanistic. That is not the same sort of desire or need involved in love. The desire of love is something I can make choices regarding and involves introspection.”
    An interesting assertion, but not one that holds up. Why can't I make choices regarding my desire for food? Why can't I think about my huger? Of course I can.

    “Choosing what to eat is not a choice about getting hungry or not. Love, on the other hand, is always a choice.”
    Oh, the world would be such a simple place if this were true, but sadly it is not. History is replete with people falling in love with people they'd much rather not have. Do I have a choice as to whether or not I love my children? None whatsoever. Yes, we can choose whether or not to follow our urges (be they for food or love) but not whether or not we have them.

    ” If something is incalculable, yes, I would call that mysterious.”
    Okay, well the path of a pumpkin rolling down a hill is sufficiently complex to be incalculable. Is this what you mean by mysterious?

    Finally, you ask this:
    “Do you recognize that you switched from talking about hunger to talking about the “deeply social”?
    Yes, I did make this switch, because you make it when talking about love. I was simply trying to show that the same is true of hunger. Love is a feeling, but plays out in a social or relational context, which is often tremendously complex. So too does hunger. All our feelings play out in a social context, for we are social animals. To claim this reality exclusively for love strikes me as brave. What's more, social context brings complexity, but not necessarily mystery, so the point feels unimportant at this stage.

    Now, where is that difference, such that one is more mysterious?

    Bernard

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  21. Darrell says:

    Hi Bernard,

    “While love often seems like it affects us physically, we know it doesn’t do so in the way hunger does.”

    “Do we? Both have a strong biological component. When we fall in love, oxytocin, for example, plays a key role in bond formation. Both hunger and love have a strong physiological underpinning.”

    If someone starves to death, it is noted on the death certificate as the cause of death. Not so with love. Are you saying that love can be reduced to oxytocin and bond formation? If not, what else there might be to love? Therein is probably some mystery, right? Are you arguing that love, like hunger, can be reduced to the physical only? Yes, we do know, on a scientific basis alone, that love does not affect us physically like hunger does and will. I didn’t say there wasn’t a physical aspect to love (in the eros sense mostly), but it is certainly different than hunger’s effect, which we have no control over and we die from if not met.

    “Now, intensionality, or the act of reference, can occur for both. I can think about love, and I can think about my hunger. Both are abstractions and as such have intensionality. I don't see where the difference, with reference to intensionality, lies. Are you able to explain this?”

    The difference was noted in the quote and I did explain it, did you want to address that?

    “As soon as one begins to think about love (or indeed anything) it becomes intrinsically introspective. The same is true, therefore, for hunger. One can feel hunger, without thinking about it, of course. The same is true of love, the experience can be entirely visceral. We're looking for a difference here, and I'm not convinced you've established one.”

    Again (I repeat myself) just because we think about something doesn’t make it mysterious too. We don’t think about hunger—it happens to us. You are confusing a biological urge with introspection—the act of mentally reflecting deeply. Sorry, but hunger doesn’t cause such or demand such—it isn’t needed. Love gives rise to introspection and demands such, especially over time.

    “…Why can't I make choices regarding my desire for food? Why can't I think about my huger? Of course I can.”

    No one is saying you cannot, but that wasn’t the point. It does hold up for obvious reasons. You cannot choose to not get hungry. You can think about your hunger, but you will get hungry whether you do or not. There are aspects to hunger you have no control over. Love is not like that. Our love, depending upon a number of factors, can change over time. When we learn we were wrong about someone or are hurt terribly by someone, we sometimes can no longer love them. Hunger is not like that.

    “Choosing what to eat is not a choice about getting hungry or not. Love, on the other hand, is always a choice.”-Darrell

    “Yes, we can choose whether or not to follow our urges (be they for food or love) but not whether or not we have them.”

    No one said we can choose not to have feelings, where are you getting that? Anyway, you didn’t address the point. Are you telling us you can choose to not get hungry? You can’t right? Love doesn’t happen to us in the same way as hunger, wherein we have no choice. We must act upon our hunger or we die. Love is not like that.

    (Continued)

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  22. Darrell says:

    (Continued)

    “Okay, well the path of a pumpkin rolling down a hill is sufficiently complex to be incalculable. Is this what you mean by mysterious?”

    What are you talking about? Please answer the question: Is a pumpkin incalculably complex in its relations with people? I’m not a physics or math major, but I assume if enough information is known about the hill, the pumpkin, and the variables that such isn’t incalculably complex but it doesn’t even matter. I’ve been speaking of relational complexity and you noted that type of complexity yourself, so? Trust me, we are way past your pumpkin rolling example.

    “Do you recognize that you switched from talking about hunger to talking about the “deeply social”?-Darrell

    “Yes, I did make this switch, because you make it when talking about love.”

    I never made a switch; I’ve been talking about the relational aspect. Hunger fails that aspect.

    “I was simply trying to show that the same is true of hunger. Love is a feeling, but plays out in a social or relational context, which is often tremendously complex. So too does hunger.”

    You are just wrong here. The relational doesn’t have anything to do with hunger. We get together with people because of love and friendship, not because we are hungry. Being hungry is a complete side issue. You are making my point, not yours.

    “All our feelings play out in a social context, for we are social animals. To claim this reality exclusively for love strikes me as brave. What's more, social context brings complexity, but not necessarily mystery, so the point feels unimportant at this stage.”

    Now you’ve switched to talking about “feelings” instead of a biological urge or drive. No one said we are not social animals and I didn’t say it wasn’t exclusive to love, but we do not get together because we are physically hungry. We can eat by ourselves.

    So, you still have yet to establish how hunger (or any of your examples) meets the criteria that would make it mysterious in the same way as love. You are welcome to keep trying.

    Also, you still haven’t told us what even you think the difference is between love and hunger. Remember, you noted differences yourself?

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  23. Hi Darrell

    It is worth remembering, perhaps, what we are trying to establish here. Is there something especially mysterious about love?

    So, when you write:
    ” I didn’t say there wasn’t a physical aspect to love (in the eros sense mostly), but it is certainly different than hunger’s effect, which we have no control over and we die from if not met.”
    I don't disagree. However, you raised this difference specifically with respect to intensionality, yet you've not shown how intensionality applies to love but not hunger. That hunger and love both have physical elements, but that lack of food can kill, does not appear to raise a mystery with regard to love and intensionality. Remember, intensionality refers to aboutness, or the way a statement gains its meaning. I'm not even sure what it is about intensionality you find mysterious.

    ” Love gives rise to introspection and demands such, especially over time.” Not necessarily. People vary hugely in how introspective they are with regard to their love. Some simply do, while others are prone to contemplation. Others obsess endlessly about food. Where is the mystery that is unique to love? The fact is, one can become introspective with regard to either, and to the extent that there is something mysterious about introspection, it is hardly love's mystery.

    “Our love, depending upon a number of factors, can change over time. When we learn we were wrong about someone or are hurt terribly by someone, we sometimes can no longer love them. Hunger is not like that.” When we discover an allergy to a food, we can no longer use that food to feed our hunger. Our relationship with hunger changes over time. But this is hardly the point. What you are trying to establish is that the relationship between love and free will is particularly mysterious in some way. How?

    ” Love doesn’t happen to us in the same way as hunger, wherein we have no choice. We must act upon our hunger or we die. Love is not like that.” Yes, but in what way does the fact that we can live without love make it mysterious? Where is the mystery in love from that? I can live without nursery rhymes too, that doesn't of itself make them mysterious.

    Finally, you ask what I see as the differences between love and hunger. Well, many, of course. Hunger drives us to consume nutrients, love drives us to form social connections. So, both are feelings which lead to behavioural predispositions, with both the feelings and behaviours being noticably different. But there is nothing in that to make one particularly mysterious, as compared to the other.

    Bernard

    Like

  24. Darrell says:

    Hi Bernard,

    “I didn’t say there wasn’t a physical aspect to love (in the eros sense mostly), but it is certainly different than hunger’s effect, which we have no control over and we die from if not met.”-Darrell

    “I don't disagree. However, you raised this difference specifically with respect to intensionality, yet you've not shown how intensionality applies to love but not hunger. That hunger and love both have physical elements, but that lack of food can kill, does not appear to raise a mystery with regard to love and intensionality. Remember, intensionality refers to aboutness, or the way a statement gains its meaning. I'm not even sure what it is about intensionality you find mysterious.”

    Again, I thought I made that clear from the quote I gave you and my comments. Do you want to address that?

    “Love gives rise to introspection and demands such, especially over time.”-Darrell

    “Not necessarily. People vary hugely in how introspective they are with regard to their love. Some simply do, while others are prone to contemplation. Others obsess endlessly about food. Where is the mystery that is unique to love? The fact is, one can become introspective with regard to either, and to the extent that there is something mysterious about introspection, it is hardly love's mystery.”

    I didn’t say there wasn’t a variance and contemplation is really the same thing. Not the point. The point is that love gives rise to introspection, hunger does not. Further, again, you confuse two things. Instead of talking about hunger, you speak of food. Yes, people can think about food, but that doesn’t speak to how hunger is like love or as mysterious. There is no deep introspection that goes on as to hunger. Big difference.

    “Our love, depending upon a number of factors, can change over time. When we learn we were wrong about someone or are hurt terribly by someone, we sometimes can no longer love them. Hunger is not like that.”-Darrell

    “When we discover an allergy to a food, we can no longer use that food to feed our hunger. Our relationship with hunger changes over time. But this is hardly the point. What you are trying to establish is that the relationship between love and free will is particularly mysterious in some way. How?”

    Same problem, you have switched from talking about hunger to talking about an allergy and food. Our relationship to hunger never changes. It is the point. Notice, you can’t really talk about hunger and try and make your point, you begin switching to the social, or introspection, or to food. This only proves my point. You are no longer talking about hunger, but something else. You need the something else, those things which are also mysterious, to try and attached to hunger itself. But they are different. This is what you had to do with the song and music issue too.

    (Continued)

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  25. Darrell says:

    (Continued)

    “Love doesn’t happen to us in the same way as hunger, wherein we have no choice. We must act upon our hunger or we die. Love is not like that.” -Darrell

    “Yes, but in what way does the fact that we can live without love make it mysterious? Where is the mystery in love from that? I can live without nursery rhymes too, that doesn't of itself make them mysterious.”

    No one seeks out nursery rhymes or wants to experience such as they do love, to love and be loved. Your comparison is trite, laughable. The fact we want something so much, and to give it so much, and yet we can live without it, is indeed a mystery. Perhaps Bernard you have been absent your whole life, never read a book, seen a play, listened to a song, been in love? I’m shocked frankly how your line of reasoning continues to devolve into the absurd really.

    “Finally, you ask what I see as the differences between love and hunger. Well, many, of course. Hunger drives us to consume nutrients, love drives us to form social connections. So, both are feelings which lead to behavioural predispositions, with both the feelings and behaviours being noticably different. But there is nothing in that to make one particularly mysterious, as compared to the other.”

    Well, think about this: If we don’t consume nutrients, if we don’t eat, we die. That doesn’t happen if we don’t form social connections. And yet, love has been spoken of for centuries as that which we need more than anything else and if we lack, we are seen as metaphorically dead. We might think, well I would rather eat and live truly. If I am not loved and don’t love, I will still live. But there is a pause there in any reflective person. We might think, no, I would actually rather die than not be loved or never love someone.

    I could go on and on. If you cannot even see a glimpse of the mystery in that interplay of thoughts, I feel sorry for you. Regardless, you haven’t come close to reducing love to either the physical or made it any less mysterious. Any person, with the smallest imagination and reflection, could see the mystery to love as opposed to getting hungry or your other examples. Please.

    Did you also want to address the point about to complexity of relation and pumpkins? Or the use of your very own phrase- “incalculable complexity of human relations”? Neither hunger, nor pumpkins rolling, nor any other example you’ve given us even meets one of your own criteria. Do you also care to answer the question: can you choose not to be hungry?

    Are we done? You can’t even make your point without smuggling in either the social or introspection, which are the hallmarks of love not hunger. We can decide to be social or introspective; we cannot choose to not be hungry regardless of whether we are with others and regardless of whether we think about it or not. It is a biological urge-drive we can manage to a point, but ultimately have no control over. If we do not eat, we die. It is fundamentally different than love in a categorical way, especially given the spiritual aspect.

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  26. Hi Darrell

    What I continue to be interested in here, is whether you've identified a particular mystery associated with love.

    You've nominated intensionality, choice and introspection, as best I can see. So, the case would require two tings, showing first that they apply to love but not something as prosaic as hunger, and second showing that they way they apply is inherently mysterious. You're not there yet.

    How does intensionality apply to love but not hunger? You say you addressed this is an earlier quote. Here's what you offered:
    ” My act of thinking takes an object, or has an accusative. It exhibits aboutness or of-ness in the way a pain quale [or sneeze] does not exhibit aboutness of of-ness.”
    So, intensionality arises when we think about the thing, be it hunger or love. In the case of hunger, you say I've moved from speaking of the sensation of being hungry, to the act of thinking about hunger. So I have. The same is true of love. The sensation of love has no intensionality, but thinking about love does. Where then is the difference?

    You say the same thing here:
    ” Yes, people can think about food, but that doesn’t speak to how hunger is like love or as mysterious. There is no deep introspection that goes on as to hunger. Big difference”
    Well, people can contemplate both their hunger and their love. What is the big difference you allude to here? That the introspection is deeper for love? How could you quantify that, and why would it make it more mysterious?

    As for nursery rhymes, you descend to mockery
    “Your comparison is trite, laughable.” which would be fine if you also addressed the point. You seem to be hanging a lot on the fact that we die if we do not respond to hunger, not so love, although as you note, our life is all the poorer (and in the long term, as a people we may well die out). But, the lack of fatality attached to love does not of itself make it mysterious, and mystery is what we seek to establish here. This is all the nursery rhyme was about.

    You ask whether we can choose to be hungry? No. Nor can we choose to be in love. What we can do, in both instances, is make choices about how to deal with the feelings as they arise.

    Finally, with relation to pumpkins, you used the phrase incalculable complexity, and I was just checking this is not where you thought the mystery lies. Apparently not, and rather it lies in the incalculable complexity of relations. So, how does the fact that the relations are involved render this mysterious in a way that incalculable physical complexity does not? I'm missing your point here.

    So, how about you try to show how love is tied up with either intensionality, introspection or choice in a way that is both unique and mysterious. Then you'd have a case.

    Bernard

    Like

  27. Darrell says:

    Hi Bernard,

    “…In the case of hunger, you say I've moved from speaking of the sensation of being hungry, to the act of thinking about hunger. So I have. The same is true of love. The sensation of love has no intensionality, but thinking about love does. Where then is the difference?”

    The difference is noted in the quote: “So right now I am thinking about a dog, but no presently existing dog. My thinking has intentional content. It is an instance of what philosophers call intentionality. My act of thinking takes an object, or has an accusative. It exhibits aboutness or of-ness in the way a pain quale [or hunger] does not exhibit aboutness of of-ness. It is important to realize that my thinking is intrinsically such as to be about a dog: the aboutness is not parasitic upon an external relation to an actual dog [or to actual hunger pains, which are a physiological empirical reality, we can detect and measure outside our mental activity]…”

    There is the difference.

    “Yes, people can think about food, but that doesn’t speak to how hunger is like love or as mysterious. There is no deep introspection that goes on as to hunger. Big difference”-Darrell

    “Well, people can contemplate both their hunger and their love. What is the big difference you allude to here? That the introspection is deeper for love? How could you quantify that, and why would it make it more mysterious?”

    I will repeat myself: There is a difference between thinking about food and experiencing hunger. You are comparing hunger, not food, to love. You keep switching. We do not think about being hungry, we just are, we just experience it. It requires no introspection (hunger is different from food) and gives rise to none. Love does. Huge difference.

    “As for nursery rhymes…,

    Yes, I noted: No one seeks out nursery rhymes or wants to experience such as they do love, to love and be loved.

    Did you want to respond to that? Probably not, because nursery rhymes fail as being analogous to love or hunger.

    “You ask whether we can choose to be hungry? No. Nor can we choose to be in love. What we can do, in both instances, is make choices about how to deal with the feelings as they arise.”

    This is just false. When we get hungry, we have two choices. You eat or eventually die. This is simply not true about love. We do not physically have love pains, wherein our bodies actually begin consuming their own fat if we refuse love or fail to extend it. Further, we do have choices regarding whether we will experience love or not. That is why we have phrases like “falling” in and out of love. We know there are people we felt strongly about perhaps in our college or high-school years, whom we now no longer feel or experience what we did then. We have no choice as to whether or not we will experience hunger or not, today, or tomorrow, or until we die. No one says, “Gee, how do I feel about these hunger pains that I felt yesterday too. What are my options here? Should I eat again or not?”

    (Continued)

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  28. Darrell says:

    (Continued)

    “Finally, with relation to pumpkins, you used the phrase incalculable complexity, and I was just checking this is not where you thought the mystery lies. Apparently not, and rather it lies in the incalculable complexity of relations. So, how does the fact that the relations are involved render this mysterious in a way that incalculable physical complexity does not? I'm missing your point here.”

    No, you used the phrase. “Some of the things that we can't figure out, in terms of love, would include the first person experience, and the sheer, incalculable complexity of human interactions.”

    Thus, pumpkins rolling down hills nor hunger even meet one of your criteria. One would think that some aspect to being human (love) that is incalculably complex in relational terms would be somewhat mysterious, wouldn’t you? I guess not.

    Sorry Bernard, but you haven’t been able to show how any of your examples meet the criteria that love can meet. Because love can, it is mysterious in ways your examples are not. You can’t even meet some of your own criteria. Beyond that, you are just repeating yourself at this point.

    Like

  29. Darrell says:

    By the way Bernard,

    In addition to trying to tell us how love isn’t any more mysterious than hunger, can you square something else for us?

    In my original post on mystery, you told us we shouldn’t look for mystery when none exists, remember that?

    But now, you appear to be telling us that mystery is everywhere, whether rolling pumpkins, sneezes, cars, love, hunger, etc., and it is all equally mysterious according to you, right?

    So it appears then it is impossible to look anywhere and not see mystery. Is that what you are now saying?

    Because I see difference. I don’t think cars and pumpkins are mysterious. I think science and what we know about physics has removed any mystery (or to a great degree) as to motion and physical objects. What we don’t know at the quantum level isn’t really meaningful enough on a practical every-day basis for us to consider movement and physical objects as serious mysteries.

    Is it possible it is now you who is looking for mysteries where none exist in your almost desperate attempt to show love to be no more mysterious than even the mundane and common?

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  30. Hi Darrell

    The quote you provide does nothing to show why intentionality is any more connected to love than hunger, it simply explains what intentionality is. My question is why is love, in particular tied to this state more than hunger. I don't think it is. Both are concepts, and so we can think about both in the abstract, and they have intentionality in this regard. In this sense, there is no difference.

    So it goes with introspection.
    “It requires no introspection (hunger is different from food) and gives rise to none. Love does. Huge difference.” Love does not require introspection. We can be introspective about love, sure, and hunger too (I can think about my hunger, wonder how to act upon it, whether to suppress it for now, etc). in this respect, they appear identical.

    On nursery rhymes:
    “Yes, I noted: No one seeks out nursery rhymes or wants to experience such as they do love, to love and be loved.”
    This however, was not my point. Rather, I wanted to head off your claim that the fact we can live without love might make it more mysterious.

    With respect to pumpkins, it is the incalculable complexity they relate to. By working this way (ruling out complexity (pumpkin), ruling out necessity (nursery rhyme)) we can hone in on where the differences really might lie.

    So what's standing? You are sticking by your intensionality claim, but your quote does nothing to differentiate between love and hunger, it applies equally well to both.

    You wish to climb love is mysterious because it requires introspection. It does not. The experience is made richer by introspection, sure, but so is hunger.

    Have you anything left?

    And finally, no I'm not arguing that al things are equally mysterious. Consciousness sis much more mysterious than a pumpkin rolling down a hill. In the pumpkin's case, we understand the forces involved, even if they elude calculation. In the case of consciousness, we don't have an adequate model in place.

    Much better, I think, to reserve the word mystery for the second type, where it really does defy explanation. I'm yet to see how you put love in this category.

    Bernard

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  31. Darrell says:

    Hi Bernard,

    “The quote you provide does nothing to show why intentionality is any more connected to love than hunger, it simply explains what intentionality is. My question is why is love, in particular tied to this state more than hunger. I don't think it is. Both are concepts, and so we can think about both in the abstract, and they have intentionality in this regard. In this sense, there is no difference.”

    Of course it does. It does more than simply explain what intentionality is—the whole point is it reveals inherent problems with physicalism. Hunger is something we feel empirically, outside our mind or thinking, like pain quale. Thus, hunger does not meet the criteria. The quote makes that point. You may disagree, fine, but you haven’t shown how it is intentional in the same way as love.

    I will point this out one last time:

    “So right now I am thinking about a dog, but no presently existing dog. My thinking has intentional content. It is an instance of what philosophers call intentionality. My act of thinking takes an object, or has an accusative. It exhibits aboutness or of-ness in the way a pain quale [OR HUNGER] does not exhibit aboutness of of-ness. It is important to realize that my thinking is intrinsically such as to be about a dog: the aboutness is not parasitic upon an external relation to an actual dog [or to actual HUNGER pains, which are a physiological empirical reality, we can detect and measure outside our mental activity]…”

    “It requires no introspection (hunger is different from food) and gives rise to none. Love does. Huge difference.”-Darrell

    “Love does not require introspection. We can be introspective about love, sure, and hunger too (I can think about my hunger, wonder how to act upon it, whether to suppress it for now, etc). in this respect, they appear identical.”

    Again, just because we can think about something doesn’t meet the criteria of introspection. No one is introspective about their hunger or wonders how to act upon it. No one. You are just making stuff up at this point. People are very introspective about their loves and they do wonder how to act upon them. You are speaking of a world that doesn’t exist.

    “Yes, I noted: No one seeks out nursery rhymes or wants to experience such as they do love, to love and be loved.”-Darrell

    “This however, was not my point. Rather, I wanted to head off your claim that the fact we can live without love might make it more mysterious.”

    No one lives their lives acting as if they need nursery rhymes or loving nursery rhymes. So the example of nursery rhymes doesn’t follow. The fact we can live without love but do not want to, as opposed to hunger, does make it more mysterious.

    (Continued)

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  32. Darrell says:

    (Continued)

    “With respect to pumpkins, it is the incalculable complexity they relate to. By working this way (ruling out complexity (pumpkin), ruling out necessity (nursery rhyme)) we can hone in on where the differences really might lie.”

    That is not what you wrote: You noted the “sheer, incalculable complexity of human interactions.” Thus pumpkins, sneezes, and hunger all fail the criteria you yourself note here.

    “So what's standing?”

    Everything is left standing. You have yet to show how any of your examples meet the criteria I noted, let alone your own. Again, your examples do not even meet your own criteria–one you noted as to how love was different. So?

    “And finally, no I'm not arguing that al things are equally mysterious. Consciousness sis much more mysterious than a pumpkin rolling down a hill. In the pumpkin's case, we understand the forces involved, even if they elude calculation. In the case of consciousness, we don't have an adequate model in place.”

    Since love is a part of that consciousness, again, what is the problem?

    Are you telling us that you are going to single out and isolate love, out of our entire conscious first-person experiences, as the one single aspect that isn’t any more mysterious than what we feel when we stub our toe or get hungry? Seriously?

    We’ve gone from you telling us that “there is hardly any mystery to love” to you telling us it is mysterious, just no more than, you know, that part of us that is one of the greatest mysteries ever, our conscious minds.

    I’m fine with that. You are just repeating yourself at this point. Clearly we just disagree. Anything else (that isn’t just a repeated point)?

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  33. Hi Darrell

    At the point where you can write this:

    “No one is introspective about their hunger or wonders how to act upon it. No one. You are just making stuff up at this point. People are very introspective about their loves and they do wonder how to act upon them. You are speaking of a world that doesn’t exist.”

    We are left with nowhere to go. Here we have a base line difference in our beliefs regarding the evidence. I simply believe that people very often think about their hunger. Indeed, I note an entire industry based upon our tendency to be introspective about our relationship with our appetite.

    If you think this is not a part of our world, then there is nowhere this discussion can go. We simply live in different worlds.

    Equally, when you can write
    “Are you telling us that you are going to single out and isolate love, out of our entire conscious first-person experiences, as the one single aspect that isn’t any more mysterious than what we feel when we stub our toe or get hungry? Seriously?”

    It is clear you've not understood me, and I'm at a loss how else to explain myself. Am I singling love out? No, quite the opposite. Love is as mysterious as sadness, loneliness, frustration, ennui, hunger… That's been my whole point.

    Bernard

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  34. Darrell says:

    Hi Bernard,

    “No one is introspective about their hunger or wonders how to act upon it. No one. You are just making stuff up at this point. People are very introspective about their loves and they do wonder how to act upon them. You are speaking of a world that doesn’t exist.”-Darrell

    “We are left with nowhere to go. Here we have a base line difference in our beliefs regarding the evidence. I simply believe that people very often think about their hunger. Indeed, I note an entire industry based upon our tendency to be introspective about our relationship with our appetite.”

    No one said people don’t think about their hunger. However, unless a person is starving, any thought they do give it is passing at best. We are not talking about eating disorders or starvation. Even then, they are not pondering why they are hungry or what it means. They know why they are hungry and what it means (they need to eat!). A person doesn’t have an eating disorder because the biological drive to eat exists. In the normal day-to-day of emotionally and physically healthy people, there is hardly a thought to hunger let alone deep introspection. Further, you are speaking of the food industry, and not hunger per se. Two different things. If we were to follow your line of thought here, we would have to conclude that whether we were thinking about buffing our nails or taking our own lives, there is no deep introspection to either and both are the same—it is all just thinking. That is not the world I live in and I don’t think you do either.

    So, I don’t think you are addressing the biological urge/drive of hunger in a realistic way. In fact, you are unable to. I don’t have to imagine any highly unlikely exceptions or every possibility to show how love is different from hunger. That you have to is just another weakness to your case.

    “Are you telling us that you are going to single out and isolate love, out of our entire conscious first-person experiences, as the one single aspect that isn’t any more mysterious than what we feel when we stub our toe or get hungry? Seriously?”-Darrell

    “It is clear you've not understood me, and I'm at a loss how else to explain myself. Am I singling love out? No, quite the opposite. Love is as mysterious as sadness, loneliness, frustration, ennui, hunger… That's been my whole point.”

    But hunger is not like those other examples you give (and I’m not sure what you mean by “ennui” in this context). I certainly would agree that love is like those other aspects, as long as there is some relational (“incalculable”, as you put) aspect. Indeed, these are all mysterious in that sense.

    So perhaps we do agree then, it could be you were just using the wrong example. None of your examples were able to meet your own criteria of the “sheer, incalculable complexity of human interactions.”

    I think if sadness, loneliness, and frustration are being placed within the context of relations with others, then they would certainly be like love in their mystery. Hunger is not relational, it is just a drive, a reflex, an urge so we don’t die and no person or thing outside of us is necessary to it in any way.

    By the way, you may find this of interest and it is written by an atheist: http://atheistethicist.blogspot.com/2009/09/on-love-and-hunger.html

    And I would suggest that a “higher meaning” would leave room for mystery.

    There may be another way to come at all this and I might try another avenue in a future post. As always however, thank you for the input and thought.

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  35. Burk says:

    Hi, Darrell-

    I read the link you provide, and it does not make sense. Just because love is relatively socially positive does not mean that it is not an appetite like hunger or lust. We need love, as do other mammals … it is a very string biological need, and its fulfillment obviously has many positive consequences, whose evolutionary role is obvious. It may be “higher” than other needs in some social and ethical sense, as we judge it subjectively, but that doesn't imbue it with any extra mystery or non-biological basis. You will have heard of the oxytocin work, a hormone that functions in bonding between mates, etc.

    Indeed, one can find a poem in praise of bacon.

    Our feelings about such things as hunger and love are part of consciousness which is so complex and mysterious by way of that complexity. But none of this implies some non-biological or non-physical dimension to either hunger or love. Love also is additionally complex because people are more complicated than food- it takes two to tango, and getting them in sync is endlessly difficult. But is all just complexity and emotional baggage, not some source of super-mystery.

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  36. Darrell says:

    Hi Burk,

    Well you speak here from the naturalist/materialist view. We can see that from your use of the word “just”. Love is “just”…this or that. Spoken like a true naturalist/physicalist. In your mind, love can be reduced to the purely physical. I disagree for all the reasons noted throughout, which I will certainly not go though again now. However, at least we know where you are coming from. Throughout this entire conversation, I could never get Bernard or JP to tell us where they were coming from (why so coy?), although they seemed to be making the same argument you do here.

    An agnostic could not say there wasn't a non-physical element to love, because to that question (does a non-physical/spiritual/platonic/transcendental aspect to existence exist?) he would have to answer: “I don't know.”

    So I'm not sure where that leaves either Bernard or JP as to your ruminations here.

    Like

  37. Hi Darrell

    We are at the nub of this, and I appreciate the time you took to get here. You write this:

    “If we were to follow your line of thought here, we would have to conclude that whether we were thinking about buffing our nails or taking our own lives, there is no deep introspection to either and both are the same—it is all just thinking.”

    Remember, what we are talking about is mystery, and that is why we have to be so very careful to keep our definitions clear and our categories lined up. You offered that one thing that is mysterious about love is that it involves introspection, and we might posit that introspection is mysterious (this being the next step in the argument, one thing at a time is helpful).

    We then need to be clear about what is it that makes introspection mysterious. Presumably this links back to consciousness, and the ability to place the self at the centre of consideration and speculation. If this is so, then any abstract thought of this type fits the mystery category. We say hunger and love are equally mysterious in this way, because both lend themselves to this curious business of abstract thought (making plans, considering options, remaking personal narratives etc). in this way, while thinking about my toenails is trivial, and considering ending one's life most certainly not, both in fact involve this mysterious business of introspection. Hence, introspection (or free will, or intensionality) are poor candidates for defining differences between love and hunger.

    Now, you are clearly arguing that love is different for hunger, and I agree, there are many differences. What you then need to do, if your argument is to fly,. is to find some way of showing how these differences lead to a different type of mystery (and then make a case that the love version has more mystery).

    I'm open to you trying that, but, as I say, while you can show how we respond to love and hunger differently, none of those differences exclude hunger from one of the categories of mystery you've offered.

    Bernard

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  38. Darrell says:

    Hi Bernard,

    “Now, you are clearly arguing that love is different for hunger, and I agree, there are many differences. What you then need to do, if your argument is to fly,. is to find some way of showing how these differences lead to a different type of mystery (and then make a case that the love version has more mystery).”

    No, I don’t need to do anything. My argument did fly. Any onus is on you. I am making a very common assertion, one that is understood by most and most would agree that love is more mysterious or mysterious in a different way than a biological urge, whatever that urge/drive may be. All your examples failed for the reasons I’ve given, over and over now. Instead of responding to most of those directly, you mostly just repeated the same response.

    Again, hunger doesn’t even meet your own criteria of the “sheer, incalculable complexity of human interactions”, let alone the others I offered. Hunger will not work.

    We clearly disagree as to hunger, but I think we agree that love is indeed mysterious as part of our conscious experience and in the sense of its peculiar existence (how we experience it) in relation to others.

    Thus, let us come full circle now. Where we find mystery, we should be okay with that. The need for certainty, to figure it out, is fine when working on cars, figuring out how a pumpkin might roll given all parameters, why we sneeze, how hunger affects us, and so on, but in other areas like love, joy, sadness, hope, desire, and so on, sometimes we just need to embrace the mystery. I think to do so a healthy sensibility and wise. In embracing the mystery, perhaps we learn more about these areas that we ever could otherwise.

    Anyway, I do plan to come at this from a different angle shortly and perhaps it may lead to a better understanding of each other even if not necessarily to perfect agreement.

    Thanks for sharing.

    Like

  39. Hi Darrell

    I understand it takes real perseverance to stay with these discussions, particularly when they get down to the pointy end.

    We got very close to an understanding here. It came down, for you, to a mystery that resides somewhere within the realm of intensionality, introspection and will.

    Your assertion that these do not apply for hunger is a very difficult one to sustain, I would argue. in particular, we can apply all three as easily to hunger. Your last attempt, before pulling out, was to do with the depth of introspection, and as I noted, this difference may not of itself introduce the mystery you are after. Is a deep introspection in some way more mysterious than a shallow one?

    You suggest we agree that love touches upon the mystery of consciousness. it does, of course. So do all conscious experiences, of course, from sneezes, to feeling hungry or disappointed or whatever. What you've attempted to do throughout is to show that love is more mysterious, and if we can not find reason to sustain this assertion, we are indeed inventing mystery for the sake a of a larger narrative.

    Anyway, thanks for having in there so long. I do at least see how you're trying to construct your argument now, and it will be interesting to see the new angle.

    Cheers

    Bernard

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  40. Darrell says:

    Hi Bernard,

    “We got very close to an understanding here. It came down, for you, to a mystery that resides somewhere within the realm of intensionality, introspection and will.”

    It came down to those three (there are probably others-this was hardly an exhaustive study) and the “sheer incalculability of human relations…” That final one being not only your own view of how love is different, but one none of your examples, including hunger, could meet. Neither did your examples meet any of the other criteria for making them as mysterious (I would say they aren’t even mysterious to begin with, but whatever) as love.

    I’m pulling out of nothing. This conversation is ending, at this point anyway, because you offer nothing new that hasn’t already been addressed.

    Maybe you can do so coming at it from a different angle. We shall see.

    All the best.

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  41. Hi Darrell

    Well, let's be more optimistic about this. Surely, with our understanding of what is involved so clear, we can resolve the issue. Don't give up on the possibility.

    How about we do this one issue at a time, beginning with introspection?

    My case is very simple. If the mystery of introspection is that of how the mind considers itself, takes the first person perspective such that it can plan, make judgements, think conceptually and so forth, then we can apply this introspective mystery as much to hunger as we can to love (or indeed any feeling). We can respond to this feeling by thinking about it, planning to meet the needs it presents, prioritise, make value judgements etc.

    Now, if introspection is what makes love more mysterious than hunger, then there must be some way in which introspection applies to love but not hunger, that is itself mysterious.

    The best you've offered so far is that the matters considered when one thinks of love are weightier, or of deeper importance. Now, considering weighty matters does not seem, to me, to be any more mysterious than considering more trivial ones, however we might make that value judgement (is staying alive through food really trivial?).

    So, if we take just this issue of introspection, there is surely some point of difference that you are able to tease out, such that the mystery becomes clear. This careful, issue at a time, rigorously defined approach to problem solving will get us to the heart of this, if you're game. I urge you to try, as there's learning available for us both if we persevere.

    Bernard

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  42. Darrell says:

    Hi Bernard,

    The assertion we are introspective about our hunger in the same way we are about love is just false—it is not true to our own experiences or anyone else’s. You are simply equating our being conscious of it, noticing it, with being introspective. There is a huge difference. Again, you could say then that we are being introspective about everything from the smallest choice or decision to the loftiest. This is simply not how life is lived. We do not spend a lot of time thinking about our hunger. We may think about food, where to eat, what to buy, what we like, and so on but that is not introspection regarding hunger.

    Even a cursory look at what the word means and how it is used tells us you are talking about something other than introspection. Here are some definitions:

    “Observation or examination of one's own mental and emotional state, mental processes,
    etc.; the act of looking within oneself…. self-examination, soul-searching… a reflective looking inward: an examination of one's own thoughts and feelings…

    If you think any of this is what goes on when we realize it is time to eat again and that we are hungry, then you don’t understand the meaning of the word introspection. Just being aware of something mentally is not introspection. Just giving some thought to where we might eat, what type of food, and so on is not being introspective.

    So along with not meeting your own criteria of incalculable relation, hunger does not meet this one either. But I repeat myself.

    You’ve had plenty of time to try and make your case and you simply haven’t. Even with this post all you did was repeat yourself. You are no closer now than when you began, although you have given up pumpkins, sneezes, cars, and such, so that is something-there is definitely learning happening. And we do agree love is a mystery, just not to the same degree.

    I will post soon on another angle to all this and you can respond then, but we are done for now. If you wish to respond further to this post- please do so on your own blog. Do not respond here. Thank you and cheers.

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