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Love

I know that the physical universe breaks down into smaller pieces than atoms; however, it is simpler to say, “atoms are all there are,” than to undertake to list all the sub-atomic machinery sponsoring the reality we are experiencing at the moment.  (We probably couldn’t even do it if we tried.)

Personally, I think it is philosophically, logically, and generally irresponsible for educated people in this 21st century to not be materialists, in the strictest sense of the word.  Simply put, where is the evidence for anything else?  Atoms are all there are.  But this is hard to swallow, and it doesn’t sit well once you finally get it down.  But what are we to do?  Invent grandiose lies and myths for ourselves in the interest of “happiness” and “social cohesion?”  I think not, for these things are more easily and favorably realized from a materialist perspective.  “Meaning,” however, stands in a class of its own as an intangible desire, for the human brain appears to be hard-wired to seek it out.

As there exist no gods to impart meaning upon our lives, we are left to seek out and invent “meaning” wherever we can.  As long as our search does not take us beyond the realm of the atom we commit no intellectual atrocities, and are generally free to fill our glasses at will.

People find “meaning” in all manner of places.  For some it is their work that gives them the sense of purpose, utility, and direction that they long for.  Others find it in hobbies and other personal endeavors.  And, most commonly, I think people find “meaning” in relationship with other people.  This really is not, and should not be, surprising.  Humans, like their forebears, are social animals, and thus we find emotional fulfillment when we can identify either with a group of people or with another individual.  It is this second relationship that I would like to address.

“Love” is tricky.  For a number of years I attempted, in vain, to pin down a definition of “love” that would somehow encapsulate all of the emotions, thoughts, and sensations that come with what I thought saying, “I love you,” was supposed to represent.  In other words, I wanted to know exactly what I was saying when I said those words.  Unfortunately, the ambiguities of the English language do not allow for a comprehensive definition of “love,” and thus we are left to partition out our definitions of “love” according to context (which determines use).  There is no doubt that loving is caring.  And loving is interest.  And loving is desire.  But I now think there is an understanding of the concept of “love” that comes before all of these.

As a materialist I cannot believe in miracles, in the metaphysical sense.  Though it is somewhat unclear to simply say that the “laws” of Nature govern everything that happens in the universe, I think the thrust of this statement is clear enough.  Yet, somehow, out of all the governed reactions and interactions that take place, a certain species of animal on a certain rock in space (unfortunately) evolved the miraculous ability to self-reflect.  And if there is a “meaning” to life, it is simply this: to enjoy, explore, and relish in the miracle of consciousness.

“Love,” then, is the feeling of wanting to explore one’s conscious experience with another individual, and to enable them to do the same through you.

The next time I tell someone that I love them, I’ll know exactly what I mean.

Void damn the distance.

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