Why do we love? A philosophical inquiry – Skye C. Cleary


Ah, romantic love – beautiful and intoxicating, heartbreaking and soul-crushing, often all at the same time. Why do we choose to put ourselves
through its emotional wringer? Does love make our lives meaningful, or is it an escape from our loneliness
and suffering? Is love a disguise for our sexual desire, or a trick of biology
to make us procreate? Is it all we need? Do we need it at all? If romantic love has a purpose, neither science nor psychology
has discovered it yet. But over the course of history, some of our most respected philosophers
have put forward some intriguing theories. Love makes us whole, again. The ancient Greek philosopher Plato explored the idea that we love
in order to become complete. In his “Symposium”,
he wrote about a dinner party, at which Aristophanes, a comic playwright, regales the guests
with the following story: humans were once creatures with four arms,
four legs, and two faces. One day, they angered the gods, and Zeus sliced them all in two. Since then, every person has been missing
half of him or herself. Love is the longing to find a soulmate
who’ll make us feel whole again, or, at least, that’s what Plato believed
a drunken comedian would say at a party. Love tricks us into having babies. Much, much later, German philosopher
Arthur Schopenhauer maintained that love
based in sexual desire was a voluptuous illusion. He suggested that we love because
our desires lead us to believe that another person will make us happy,
but we are sorely mistaken. Nature is tricking us into procreating, and the loving fusion we seek
is consummated in our children. When our sexual desires are satisfied, we are thrown back
into our tormented existences, and we succeed only in maintaining
the species and perpetuating the cycle
of human drudgery. Sounds like somebody needs a hug. Love is escape from our loneliness. According to the Nobel Prize-winning
British philosopher Bertrand Russell, we love in order to quench
our physical and psychological desires. Humans are designed to procreate, but without the ecstasy
of passionate love, sex is unsatisfying. Our fear of the cold, cruel world
tempts us to build hard shells to protect and isolate ourselves. Love’s delight, intimacy, and warmth
helps us overcome our fear of the world, escape our lonely shells, and engage more abundantly in life. Love enriches our whole being,
making it the best thing in life. Love is a misleading affliction. Siddhārtha Gautama, who became known as the Buddha,
or the Enlightened One, probably would have had some interesting
arguments with Russell. Buddha proposed that we love because
we are trying to satisfy our base desires. Yet, our passionate cravings are defects, and attachments, even romantic love,
are a great source of suffering. Luckily, Buddha discovered
the eight-fold path, a sort of program for
extinguishing the fires of desire so that we can reach Nirvana, an enlightened state of peace, clarity,
wisdom, and compassion. The novelist Cao Xueqin illustrated
this Buddhist sentiment that romantic love is folly in
one of China’s greatest classical novels, “Dream of the Red Chamber.” In a subplot, Jia Rui
falls in love with Xi-feng who tricks and humiliates him. Conflicting emotions of love and hate
tear him apart, so a Taoist gives him a magic mirror
that can cure him as long as he doesn’t
look at the front of it. But of course,
he looks at the front of it. He sees Xi-feng. His soul enters the mirror and he is dragged away
in iron chains to die. Not all Buddhists think this way
about romantic and erotic love, but the moral of this story is that such attachments
spell tragedy, and should, along with magic mirrors,
be avoided. Love lets us reach beyond ourselves. Let’s end on a slightly
more positive note. The French philosopher Simone de Beauvoir proposed that love is the desire
to integrate with another and that it infuses our lives
with meaning. However, she was less
concerned with why we love and more interested
in how we can love better. She saw that the problem
with traditional romantic love is it can be so captivating, that we are tempted to make it
our only reason for being. Yet, dependence on another
to justify our existence easily leads to boredom and power games. To avoid this trap, Beauvoir advised
loving authentically, which is more like a great friendship. Lovers support each other
in discovering themselves, reaching beyond themselves, and enriching their lives
and the world together. Though we might never know
why we fall in love, we can be certain that it will be
an emotional rollercoaster ride. It’s scary and exhilarating. It makes us suffer and makes us soar. Maybe we lose ourselves. Maybe we find ourselves. It might be heartbreaking, or it might just be
the best thing in life. Will you dare to find out?

100 thoughts on “Why do we love? A philosophical inquiry – Skye C. Cleary”

  1. LOVE has NO definition….it is the most beautiful feeling…doesnt matter who you love ……everybody is unique and different…and has their own way to feel it, if you feel love then you are blessed…No science or mythology can explain it….because it is logicless and immortal

  2. The thumbnail resembled a mans crotch, mid-thigh to bellybutton. At first glance, anyway. It took me another minute of staring before….umm, yeah never mind I’ll just leave now.

  3. for me, love is nonexistent between a boy and a girl. It's all about the physical intimacy and which leads to procreation.

    as for mom-dads, friends and siblings, we don’t love them. we just care for them and remain thankful for giving birth to us/caring for us/supporting us.

    in conclusion, Love is just a sugarcoated version of care/thankfulness. Love Doesn't exist.

  4. I'm curious how does it feel to love? Does it give colors to one's life? I want to experience love but I know I will never be.

  5. In my opinion.. This Ted Ed is the worst.. More like Ted not to me.. But that's a personal opinion though

  6. Hmm quite a good question, why do we love? We can still procreate without love, do things without the help of our lover as we can have friends… haha entertainment?it's in the environment?

    Lol Late comment

  7. Love is something that can't be researched, none of these things in the video truly define love, if love was something that could be researched then it would be meaningless and weddings would be run by scientists- actually wait some people might actually like that but that's not the point!

  8. I love how the animation makes the people's genders less obvious and not just a feminine and masculine figure to show diversity in love

  9. I don't believe that we needed to be completed but rather complimented in our energy to help us through to another level

  10. Oooo so we were hermeprodites Zeus made us like this😠😠 …🙏 thanks just. Imagine the population iff we were like before😂😂

  11. omggg i can imagine our Sri Lankans looking at that Buddha with the burger at 3:11 and getting freaking all burnt up and pissed!!

  12. when you love someone, you do things for them you normally wouldn't do.
    just like the philosophy of 'i need this at any cost' that people follow, it also leads to greater waste of resources and many other serious problems that hits on a large scale.

  13. Well, this might sound a bit odd and random, but I have dreamt of Zeus mating with a palm tree and begetting an ant that is capable of crawling on the edge of the Higgs Boson!

  14. Why we love because its beautiful nah
    We love becuase we r lonely but I'd say we just deceive our selfs but I am sure I will love because love is overrated anywyas😂

  15. I think love only true when it’s not taken seriously. Just think about a person you know who’s marriage ended in divorce,you probably at least know one. It’s kind of insane to seriously commit and devote the majority of your life to someone you met in the middle of your life. You have no idea weather what they tell you is true. You don’t know they’re past and they’re exact intentions. So it’s crazy to think of how people treat love. I think it should be treated as a fun game, you play love when your with each other but not take it seriously after you leave. When you take it seriously you are saying this challenge is something that my highest self must overcome for a end reward that would be worth all the effort. When in reality there is no end reward in love only memories of playing the game.

  16. Why is Jesus Christ and his followers not considered philosophers, if Buddha can feature in this, why not Christ. What a prejudice against Christianity TedEd..

  17. L is the way you look at me
    O is for the only one i see
    V is very, very extraordinary
    E is even more than anyone that you adore can

    Love is all that i can give to you
    Love is more than a game for two
    Two in love can make it
    Take my heart and please don't break it
    Love was made for me and you

  18. Well it's logical that love is like brain's mechanism to make us reproduce. Otherwise we're going to be like we all used to in the kindergarten – just boys and girls who have fun with each other.

  19. Love is simple, is a selfless act of making someone happy other then yourself, even if they don't make you feel happy. Like having a son, you love him just because he exist…

  20. Or maybe, we're forgetting to look to love in scientific ways because our brain. The love has been created by te evolution, why 2 birds decide to stay togheter and grow their birdys? Because of evolution. In the same "phylosophical way" i could describe the love of a mother (non human) to his child, when there isn't more than genes that have programed that behaviours to survive in other bodies

  21. Love has no face yet the most beautiful thing in the world which everyone quest❤ a blessing with not everyone blessed with.

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