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Is it childish to believe love?

  1. Aug 6, 2011 #1
    I don't believe love is anything near objective. Therefore, I believe it's no more than a delusion. A lot of delusion can make people feel happy, like religion. Like a Space daddy watches over you all the time and make sure everytime you pull an napkin, another one will pop out right under it.

    But the rational and sophiscated ones of us human tend to part reality from delusion. It's a gift of evolution that those individuals without the ability to distinguish fantasy with reality will be eliminated, it's also a curse, as most of us can see quite clearly how harsh reality is. Some get along, some don't, so they may choose to escape the reality temporarily, like intoxicating themselves.

    What's the last time someone ask you do you love someone? Shouldn't be later than college. If someone ask you do you love your wife, you will find it offensive, and you will ask him/her where he/she is getting at. And deep inside, you are saying "What a stupid question, what does that even mean, my wife and I get along, and we just get along..."

    Love is chemical, love is a feeling, it's a delusion. If I were a sales manager, and I want to recruit a new, fresh outta school salesman, I'd love to ask him this question: do you believe there is a thing called love? If he/she answers yes, then bam! He/she is out of the question, too young to this world, kid, sorry.

    And in case someone else ask me "then why do you stay married?" after this tirade, I'll tell him/her "Because divorce is damn expensive! And we really, really get along just fine..."
  2. jcsd
  3. Aug 6, 2011 #2


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    "Love" is a word we use to refer to the real emotion. It is not a chemical, nor a delusion. Like all aspects of consciousness it is an emergent property of brain function but that does not change the fact that it is a legitimate subjective experience. Saying love is a delusion and rational people should move away from it is foolish, when you are happy do you not feel happy? By your reasoning all subjective experience is a delusion that should be ignored.

    When someone asks you if you love someone it's because being in love with someone is a state distinct to the practicalities of your relationship.
  4. Aug 6, 2011 #3
    What in your head isn't 'chemical'? Break it down into its smallest parts and all your knowledge about physics is too.

    Your brain is a computer and anything that it knows, experiences, etc. is an arrangement of physical material. The accounting program on your computer is really just a set of indentations on a hard drive. There's really nothing more to it than there are to dents on a coffee table.

    In the most basic sense, binary logic is no different than a feeling.

    There is no such thing as abstract knowledge. It's all just grooves on a CD.
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  5. Aug 6, 2011 #4


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    Well yes except that the mind is an http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Emergence" [Broken] is a still unfathomable question that pushes the "it's just a computer" analogy well out of the realm of accuracy.
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  6. Aug 6, 2011 #5
    Even if love is just a chemical, then you've admitted that it does exist, and therefore is not a delusion.

    I've been in love before. It's not pleasant. When I was away from this person, I would get actual withdrawal symptoms which would only go away by seeing her. In a way, I was physically addicted.

    So, I can assure you, it does exist.
  7. Aug 6, 2011 #6
    For all you know, the grooves on the table are having a subjective experience.
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  8. Aug 6, 2011 #7


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    Quite right. All I can say is that grooves on a table exhibit no behaviours usually associated with entities with subjective experience.
    Last edited: Aug 6, 2011
  9. Aug 6, 2011 #8
    Love is often referred to 'altruism: selfless or unselfish concern for another'. :smile:
  10. Aug 6, 2011 #9
    In any case, I don't understand the significance of subjective experience. If it exists, it's just another physical process. It can be brought into existence by plugging in a few switches and brought out of existence by unplugging them, just like any machine process.

    Even if the coffee table isn't sentient/ conscious/ whatever, I don't think that recognizing the difference is any more relevant than recognizing that the coffee table and your brain have different colors.
  11. Aug 6, 2011 #10


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    That's the interesting thing, it is an emergent property of a physical process and not a physical process itself. To use an analogy: no part of your brain is your mind, no process is your mind, your mind is formed through the sum total of those interactions.

    I'm not sure what you mean by not recognising the difference. There is a clear relevance in recognising whether something is conscious as well as there being a great advantage to us understanding how exactly brain forms mind.

    EDIT: To clarify I'm using emergence to mean strong emergence within the context of consciousness.
  12. Aug 6, 2011 #11
    The handle on a coffee mug is not the mug.. The mug is the sum total of a cup and a handle. A coffee mug is an emergent property of a handle and a cup.

    A coffee mug is physical.

    Anyways, going back to OP. Is love a delusion?

    A delusion is a belief in something that's not real. Love is not a belief. So, the question doesn't make any sense.

    Does love lead to delusional beliefs? Well, run a regression. =D
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  13. Aug 6, 2011 #12


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    Here is a study that suggests their is a neurological component to "http://medicalxpress.com/news/2011-05-neurochemical-evidence-long-lasting.html" [Broken]" not to be confused with youthful attractive and infatuation feelings of love. I have run into research results on this subject while looking into other aspects of brain functions before, that's why I took the opportunity to post it.
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  14. Aug 6, 2011 #13


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    There's a difference; we define the mug as the total sum of physical components required to make it and that is not true of the mind, it is true of the brain. The definition of components of consciousness is the soft problem of consciousness. What I was referring to above is the hard problem which is similar to the difference between weak and strong emergence.

    To continue your analogy:

    The handle on a coffee mug is not the mug
    The mug is the sum total of the cup and a handle
    A coffee mug is an emergent property of a handle and a cup

    A coffee mug is physical


    The components of a brain are not the mind
    The mind is not the sum total of the components of the brain
    The mind is the emergent property of the brain

    The mind is physical/non-physical?
  15. Aug 6, 2011 #14
    Looking at the number of divorces, no.
  16. Aug 6, 2011 #15
    You slay me.
  17. Aug 6, 2011 #16
    Love is a feeling of special affinity and obligation for another person (or oneself for that matter), or thing or behavior. It's what makes the world go 'round (aside from gravity and the angular momentum imparted during its creation).

    If you were a sales manager (and I was a carpenter?) I'd love for you to ask me the question that you'd love to ask.
  18. Aug 6, 2011 #17


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    I would call consciousness/experiencing love a physical process. That the whole point of saying it emerges: that's it's a very complex, organized information stricture. Consciousness must be a property of matter when it's in the right energy-matter configuration.
  19. Aug 6, 2011 #18


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    Perhaps it is just semantics but I would argue that consciousness is no more a property of matter than a story is a property of a book. It's complex and I don't think the question can be properly answered until we solve the hard problem of consciousness.
  20. Aug 6, 2011 #19
    Is it childish to hope?
  21. Aug 6, 2011 #20


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    A story isn't a property of a book, a story is again, a property of the brain matter :)

    Since the mind is limited by physical constraints, it cannot hold a story, so it has to use an external physical medium (and a codification algorithm... the decoder ring, which though it takes up a lot of resources, allows for hole libraries of books to be stored externally from it).

    But the books themselves are only storage mediums.

    The process is still physical though, it is information flow (a special type of coherent and correlated energy flow). It cannot take place without energy/matter interactions.

    edit for pre-emptive clarification:

    When I say a property of brain matter, I don't mean that it's necessarily limited to it (though it's generally accepted, in our ignorance, that it is). Neither do I mean that brain matter always exhibits the property.

    Just that brain matter is a particular type of matter that, under certain conditions, exhibit consciousness (obvious).

    Just like particles of hydrogen and oxygen, under a particular condition, exhibit wave dynamics. The wave dynamics are not always there, they cannot be represented by a single water particle. The wave is an emergent physical property, but a physical property nonetheless.

    Its of course, a physicalist position I hold that consciousness is a physical property (this stuff has been though about for centuries, and it turns out that my view point is represented by philosophers that call themselves "physicalists"; some of them are also neuroscientists, like Ramachandran and Christoph Koch. The alternative is generally dualism:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dualism_(philosophy_of_mind [Broken])

    But I don't peg your for a dualist.

    Emergence is generally a physicalist approach. Physical Review E and AIP: Chaos are the two journals that represent this the greatest, but you see a lot of it in PloS and other computational biology journals (especially of course, computational neuroscience journals).

    Eugene Izhikevich curates Scholarpedia, which has an itneresting article on emergence:


    Contextual emergence
    Harald Atmanspacher (2009), Scholarpedia, 4(3):7997.
    doi:10.4249/scholarpedia.7997, revision #73007

    Eugene Izhikevich's "Brain Corporation"
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