The Concept of Love in Julian Barnes’ ‘the History of the World in 10 ½ Chapters’

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  • Topic: Love, 2009 albums, ILOVEYOU
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  • Published : September 28, 2011
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INTRODUCTION

Presuming love has a nature, it should be, to some extent at least, describable within the concepts of language. But what is meant by an appropriate language of description may be as philosophically beguiling as love itself. Such considerations invoke the philosophy of language, of the relevance and appropriateness of meanings, but they also provide the analysis of “love” with its first principles. Does it exist and if so, is it knowable, comprehensible, and describable? Love may be knowable and comprehensible to others, as understood in the phrases, “I am in love”, “I love you”, but what “love” means in these sentences may not be analyzed further: that is, the concept “love” is irreducible-an axiomatic, or self-evident, state of affairs that warrants no further intellectual intrusion, an apodictic category perhaps, that a Kantian may recognize. The epistemology of love asks how we may know love, how we may understand it, whether it is possible or plausible to make statements about others or ourselves being in love (which touches on the philosophical issue of private knowledge versus public behavior). Again, the epistemology of love is intimately connected to the philosophy of language and theories of the emotions. If love is purely an emotional condition, it is plausible to argue that it remains a private phenomenon incapable of being accessed by others, except through an expression of language, and language may be a poor indicator of an emotional state both for the listener and the subject. Emotivists would hold that a statement such as “I am in love” is irreducible to other statements because it is a nonpropositional utterance, hence its veracity is beyond examination. Phenomenologists may similarly present love as a non-cognitive phenomenon. Scheler, for example, toys with Plato’s Ideal love, which is cognitive, claiming: “love itself… brings about the continuous emergence of ever-higher value in the object–just as if it were streaming out from the object of its own accord, without any exertion (even of wishing) on the part of the lover” . The claim that “love” cannot be examined is different from that claiming “love” should not be subject to examination-that it should be put or left beyond the mind’s reach, out of a dutiful respect for its mysteriousness, its awesome, divine, or romantic nature. But if it is agreed that there is such a thing as “love” conceptually speaking, when people present statements concerning love, or admonitions such as “she should show more love,” then a philosophical examination seems appropriate: is it synonymous with certain patterns of behavior, of inflections in the voice or manner, or by the apparent pursuit and protection of a particular value (“Look at how he dotes upon his flowers-he must love them”)?

To poets, probably to write about love is easier than to prose writers. To begin with they have this evasive "I" (if I write "I", you will demand that not later than through pair paragraphs to you have explained who means — Dzhulian Barns or any invented character; the poet can waltz meanwhile and another, without losing neither in the heart of feeling, nor in objectivity). Still poets, seemingly, can turn bad love, — love egoistical, worthless — into good lyrical poetry. To prose writers it is not allowed to cast this delightful deceit. We can turn bad love only into prose about bad love. Therefore we slightly envy (and not absolutely we trust) to poets writing about love. And they compose that is called as love poetry. Books are made of their opuses under type «Singing Hearts — the Anthology of Masterpieces of Love Lyrics». Besides, there are still letters; from them the collections entitled «the Treasury of the Gold Feather, the Best Love Messages of All Times and the People» (the book — mail) turn out. But there is no such genre which would approach under definition of love prose. It sounds clumsily,...
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