Genuine love: a phenomenological problem

Let us say, that I am in love. Is this in virtue of my own desire to want to love? Or my genuine non-self-referential care for another?

Why does it have to be one or the other? Why not both? Okay, maybe we could  concede something like that, however, I think there is a genuine problem where these come apart.

Imagine that there is a person, who cares for his dying wife. This person tends to her, worries about her when she is not around, would do anything for her comfort, and constantly assuring her, and considering her wants, needs, and their importance of a shared bond,

I’m going to throw a thought here now. What if there were two kinds of mindsets realised in the same activity:

The self-interested – where one tends to care about another, they do so to fulfill their own desire; to be the kind of person  who is caring or heroic,  daring  and compassionate.

The genuine lover – where one cares about another and their feelings of wellbeing depend on the other. It is imperative that it is realised that caring for another, and the other’s wellbeing is a necessary condition for one’s happiness and consolation. The dependence relation is not clearly egoistic, however, but is a recognition of their inherent worth (this is purposely undefined and question-begging).

Michael tells me that I am cutting the situation in a way that shouldn’t be cut (Michael say that we are all trivially egoist about everything, but this isn’t a bad thing…). I am, as a ceteris paribus point, am not going to address this.

What is my point here? As the experience itself; when I love another, how is it that I can tell that I am acting out of duty and the inherent worth of another, or acting out of the ends of pursuing my own self-satisfaction through another? How can we tell if we are genuinely acting from love? Away from selfish automatons…


p.s. I consider this thought in compliment to  paper I once ready by Michael Smith (A Humean Theory of Motivation): where he poses this thought: fhow is it phenomenologically secure that we are not confabulating about the reasons for our motivation? – the example given was a counterfactual case where a man bought a newspaper from a certain stand only because a mirror was there; if the mirror were not there, the man would eventually go to another stand…I don’t think this thought applies to the situation I presented.

One thought on “Genuine love: a phenomenological problem

  1. Well…

    Lets say, you’re trying to generate feelings of Love, because you want to be the kind of person who can love. That would indicate thoughts come before feelings. So, do you think about how circumstances should effect you, before you allow yourself to react to said circumstances? Or, are you surprised by how strongly you react?

    If your thinking mind is instead surprised by feelings, or the strength of your feelings causes your body to react in unexpected ways, then I would think these feeling of love come independent of thoughts on the subject.

    For arguments sake, if at one point you wanted to be able to love, so you opened your mind to those kind of feelings, and trained yourself to become the kind of person who can love; as long as you are able to get yourself to the point where the feelings are genuine, does it matter if you chose that path, rather then being naturally gifted with the ability?

    What if there were people who were born loving, and through the years closed themselves off to the feelings because of adverse circumstance. Shouldn’t they be able to choose to open themselves up again, or must their feelings always be labeled as “fake,” or somehow inferior because at one point their thoughts were involved?

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