The Objects of Love

“爱首先不是同一个特定的人的关系; 它是一种态度,一种性格倾向。这种态度、性格倾向决定了一个人同整个世界的关系,而不是同一个 “爱的对象”的关系。”

Love is not primarily a relationship to a specific person; it is an attitude, an orientation of character which determines the relatedness of a person to the world as a whole, not toward one “object” of love.

“正因为人们不是把爱看作是一种积极的行动,灵魂的一种力量, 所以他们认为只要找到爱的正确对象就行了。”

Because one does not see that love is an activity, a power of the soul, one believes that all that is necessary to find is the right object— and that everything goes by itself afterward.


The most fundamental kind of love, which underlies all types of love, is brotherly love. By this I mean the sense of responsibility, care, respect, knowledge of any other human being, the wish to further his life. This is the kind of love the Bible speaks of when it says: love thy neighbor as thyself.


The differences in talents, intelligence, knowledge are negligible in comparison with the identity of the human core common to all men.


If I perceive in another person mainly the surface, I perceive mainly the differences, that which separates us. If I penetrate to the core, I perceive our identity, the fact of our brotherhood.

西蒙威尔曾经很优美地表述过这一点:“同样的话(例如一个男人对他的妻子说:‘ 我爱你’ )根据说这句话的方式, 既可以说是平凡无奇,也可以说是非同寻常。 说话的方式取决于一个人内在品质的深度; 这些话完全是从内心那里自然流溢出来的,不带有任何为了什么目的的意识。 通过一种不可思议的默契,这些话也到达了听者内心同一深处。 这样,听者就能分辨如果他有分辨的能力的话,这些话的价值是什么。 ”

Or as Simone Weil expressed it so beautifully: “The same words [e.g., a man says to his wife, “I love you”] can be commonplace or extraordinary according to the manner in which they are spoken. And this manner depends on the depth of the region in a man’s being from which they proceed without the will being able to do anything. And by a marvelous agreement they reach the same region in him who hears them. Thus the hearer can discern, if he has any power of discernment, what is the value of the words?”


Only in the love of those who do not serve a purpose, love begins to unfold.

上帝所允之地(土地始终是母亲的象征)被描述为“流着奶和蜜”。奶象征母爱的第一个方面: 对生命的照顾和肯定。 蜜则象征生活的甜美,对生活的爱和活着的幸福。

The promised land (land is always a mother symbol) is described as “flowing with milk and honey.” Milk is the symbol of the first aspect of love, that of care and affirmation. Honey symbolizes the sweetness of life, the love for it and the happiness in being alive.


It seems that this attitude of love is partly rooted in an instinctive equipment to be found in animals as well as in the human female. But, whatever the weight of this instinctive factor may be, there are also specifically human psychological factors which are responsible for this type of motherly love.


Inasmuch as the infant is still felt to be a part of herself, her love and infatuation may be a satisfaction of her narcissism. Another motivation may be found in a mother’s wish for power, or possession. The child, being helpless and completely subject to her will, is a natural object of satisfaction for a domineering and possessive woman.

“超越性” 的需要。need for transcendence.


the most natural and also the easiest one to achieve is the mother’s care and love for her creation. She transcends herself in the infant; her love for it gives her life meaning and significance. (In the very inability of the male to satisfy his need for transcendence by bearing children lies his urge to transcend himself by the creation of man-made things and of ideas.)


The very essence of motherly love is to care for the child’s growth, and that means to want the child’s separation from herself.


The mother must not only tolerate, she must wish and support the child’s separation. It is only at this stage that motherly love becomes such a difficult task, that it requires unselfishness, the ability to give everything and to want nothing but the happiness of the loved one.


Brotherly love is love among equals; motherly love is love for the helpless.


In contrast to both types of love are erotic love; it is the craving for complete fusion, for union with one other person.It is by its very nature exclusive and not universal; it is also perhaps the most deceptive form of love there is.

首先,人们常常会把性爱同电光火闪的“坠入” 情网的经历混为一谈,在这种情况下,两个陌生人之间所有的隔阂都突然崩塌了。正像上面已经指出的那样,按其本质这种突如其发的亲密体验注定是要短命的。

First of all, it is often confused with the explosive experience of “falling” in love, the sudden collapse of the barriers which existed until that moment between two strangers.But, as was pointed out before, this experience of sudden intimacy is by its very nature short-lived.


Since they experience the separateness of the other person primarily as physical separateness, physical union means overcoming separateness.


Beyond that, there are other factors which to many people denote the overcoming of separateness. To speak of one’s own personal life, one’s hopes and anxieties, to show oneself with one’s childlike or childish aspects, to establish a common interesttothe world—all this is taken as overcoming separateness.


Sexual desire aims at fusion—and is by no means only a physical appetite, the relief of a painful tension. But sexual desire can be stimulated by the anxiety of loneliness, by the wish to conquer or be conquered, by vanity, by the wish to hurt and even to destroy, as much as it can be stimulated by love. It seems that sexual desire can easily blend with and be stimulated by any strong emotion, of which love is only one.


Love can inspire the wish for sexual union; in this case the physical relationship is lacking in greediness, in a wish to conquer or to be conquered, but is blended with tenderness. If the desire for physical union is not stimulated by love, if erotic love is not also brotherly love, it never leads to union in more than an orgiastic, transitory sense.


Tenderness is by no means, as Freud believed, a sublimation of the sexual instinct; it is the direct outcome of brotherly love, and exists in physical as well as in non-physical forms of love.


In erotic love there is an exclusiveness which is lacking in brotherly love and motherly love.


Frequently the exclusiveness of erotic love is misinterpreted as meaning possessive attachment.


Erotic love is exclusive, but it loves in the other person all of mankind, all that is alive.


Erotic love, if it is love, has one premise. That I love from the essence of my being—and experience the other person in the essence of his or her being. In essence, all human beings are identical. We are all part of One; we are One. This being so, it should not make any difference whom we love.


Love should be essentially an act of will, of decision to commit my life completely to that of one other person.In contemporary Western culture this idea appears altogether false. Love is supposed to be the outcome of a spontaneous, emotional reaction, of suddenly being gripped by an irresistible feeling.


One neglects to see an important factor in erotic love, that of will. To love somebody is not just a strong feeling—it is a decision, it is a judgment, it is a promise. If love were only a feeling, there would be no basis for the promise to love each other forever. A feeling comes and it may go. How can I judge that it will stay forever, when my act does not involve judgment and decision?


Love is exclusively an act of will and commitment, and that therefore fundamentally it does not matter who the two persons are.This view seems to neglect the paradoxical character of human nature and of erotic love.


Both views then, that of erotic love as completely individual attraction, unique between two specific persons, as well as the other view that erotic love is nothing but an act of will, are true—or, as it may be put more aptly, the truth is neither this nor that.


These ideas on self-love cannot be summarized better than I by quoting Meister Eckhart on this topic: “If you love your-1 self, you love everybody else as you do yourself. As long as I. you love another person less than you love yourself, you will not really succeed in loving yourself, but if you love all alike, I including yourself, you will love them as one person and that I person is both God and man. Thus he is a great and righteous | person who, loving himself, loves all others equally.”