On Love

There is less discourse on love among philosophers. Philosophers remain tongue-tied and silent about love. Some even considered love as an illusion. Jean-Luc Nancy indicates that the silence of philosophy on love is because of exhaustion. This exhaustion is due to at least two reasons. The first being that we lack novel and meaningful things to say about love. The second on the other hand concerns our tiredness with the effort to say the same old things and make them sound new. This may make us think that love remains beyond the thinkable. Love is indeed thinkable and thinking can be love. Alain Badiou says that it is because of the above love is best discoursed through art and poetry. Thus, Badiou points that love is installed into thinking of love within the multiplicity of language games through poetry. This tells us that thinking love is assigned to domains that begets exhaustion by being circuitously inexhaustible. Thus, it has been a challenge to think love. Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri plead for a reconceptualization of love within political theory. Nancy rightly points that we suffer intellectual paralysis when it comes to the thinking of love. Hence, let us try and think love.

Perhaps, love begins with a thought. Maybe we have to think love from its relationship with thought. Thought is undergirded by love and love is undergirded by thought. This starting point will save us from reducing love to cheap sentimentality or emotion or passion. Perhaps, by examining the relation of thought and love, we may reveal that love is the condition of thinking. Love, therefore, is thinkable and this thinking remains in the coming. The future of thought is married to the thinking of love. Badiou declares that we are conditioned by speed of live that is accelerated by capitalism today. Philosophizing love can slow us down and it can become a therapy for our accelerated life. Love belongs to the surprise and the unexpected dimensions of love and hence it disrupts the deterministic world produced by capitalism. To Badiou, love is an antidote to the calculative world of capitalism. It exceeds and transgresses the logic of the market. Love does not love to get something. That is not true love. Nancy teaches that all thinking is undergirded by love and hence, it does not call for a this or that kind of thinking of love. This does not mean love is identical to thinking. It just means love and thinking do not live separate self-contained lives.

If thinking begins with love, we may ask where does love begin? Love begins when we declare ‘I love you’. Nancy says that all of love resides in the fact of saying ‘ I love you’ to someone. In the most sublime sense, ‘ I love you’ says it all. The declaration sets the movement of love and is a dialectical process. To Nancy love introduces a cut, an incision , a fissure. Love, thus, shatters the self and the other and in this mutual gesture of opening up an amorphous relation is brought into being. Love emerges in the gap between two in love. Thus, love shatters the subject and makes him/her see himself or herself complete in the other. Love touches us and leaves us shattered. Declaration of love is revelation that one is opened, exposed and is being fissured and is looking for wholeness in and with the other, the beloved but this brokenness is what keeps the love burning. As long as the gap is not totally bridged love lives. The day the gap between the beloved is bridged, love dies. Love to Badiou is a post-evental condition that makes the beloved think that there are two. Love therefore, lives by being incomplete and non-total. This opens love to growth. It keeps it in the promise of ever coming in the future. Love creates a world of convergence for two and keeps it in a mode of convergence.

Love that is linked to thought is always open and is exposed, fragmented and vulnerable. Thought that is exposed to other comes to itself in humility. Thus, to Nancy love undermines thinking that is totalizing, classifying , hierarchizing, onto-theologizing Thus, to Nancy love and thought are entangled in a mutual embrace. Thought to him is non-hierarchical and non-totalizing. Even, Badiou says to love is to think. To think lovingly one has the challenge to cross the boundaries and be rebellious. Love breaks barriers, crosses the mountains and the streams. Hence, thinking undergirded by love has to burst open thoughts and leave them open to grow. Such a thinking makes us accept the prodigality of our thought and embrace its contradiction and collisions. Thus, thinking under love is not dominating mastery. Thinking moved by love makes us think without submitting to the order of things. It is thinking that defies the order of things of our society. Thus, thinking most properly is love. Thinking that moved by love is always open and hence, remains dialogical, synodal and inclusive.

Love is one of the ways of exposing how the world is happening to us. We are not destined to live our lives as copies of Plato’s world of ideas. That is fatal and our freedom will become meaningless if we have to only mimic the world of ideas. Love belongs to another order. It does not have to mimic the given. It gives the novel and is productive of the new that is to come. This is why, we cannot totalize and fix love. Love is an event. It is an infinite set. We can only live it as a subset. The mathematics of love being an infinite set, tells us that love is God. We can live this love in plural forms. We can individually give and receive love as abundance but can never exhaust it giving or receiving it. We can also let our thinking be love. When thinking becomes love, it will open us and our world. When thinking becomes love, we will make this world a better place for all. The challenge is to open ourselves to love. Let love move us to think, philosophize and theologize. Let our thought be love. It will make us love. Let us become love in the image and likeness of God.

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Hypocrisy is the tribute that vice pays to virtue.

- Fr Victor Ferrao