Jump to content
Objectivism Online Forum
LoBagola

Introspecting and measuring love

Rate this topic

Recommended Posts

I've been trying to develop my ability to introspect. One thing I've been doing is attempting to rank different values in terms of importance to me. I don't think I can measure love numerically, but I can and should be able to measure it on an ordinal scale. 

 

I know this says many bad things about the way I developed but in order to attempt to rank my values I basically asked myself who would I rather die. Person X, or Person B. Both of whom I value. I'm somewhat embarrassed admitting this, but it was the first thing my mind went to when I attempted to measure love; obviously I don't want anyone to die. 

With that aside, I was able to do it. With friends. With family members. However, there was one thing I found difficult. I chose my girlfriend and am madly in love with her and in terms of intensity of emotion it 'feels' much more passionate / exciting / beautiful than some other people but I still would have preferred her to disappear over some other people I value (e.g. my dad). I think I came to this conclusion because I don't know her well enough yet and haven't been with her long enough.

 

However, I'm confused - shouldn't the intensity of my emotions be positively correlated with how much I value something? My emotions for my girlfriend are more intense than my emotions for my dad but I value him more (right now). Does this mean my emotions are not in line with reality? 

 

I'm trying to think up less intense ways to introspect these things but making it about death seems to just make everything certain in my mind. If I ask "who do I prefer?" the question just seems to be much more slippery and now suddenly I answer I prefer my girlfriend over my Dad - but that's only when it's not a matter of death. Something here doesn't make sense; depending on how I phrase the question in my mind the measurement of my love for someone changes.

Edited by LoBagola

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Is there really a conflict? You value differently in different contexts, and different people for different reasons. Even in the unrealistic scenario where you'd have to give up either your girlfriend or your dad, forever, you would be left with holes in your life that each independently couldn't fill like each together do for you right now. You'd look for another girlfriend eventually, or for a person/people to fill the voids your dad left.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'm not really up to understanding context and certainty yet.... so I will have to wait. I can see that value is contextual.

 

Is there not a contradiction when I feel more intense positive emotions for one person (my girlfriend) and less for my dad? I could understand that being the case if I valued my girlfriend over my dad, but like I said, in the case of one dying I don't value her more.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Is there not a contradiction when I feel more intense positive emotions for one ...

What if we remove the human being from the example? Instead consider some food that you really love, and imagine it is there in front of you -- a nice, juicy steak, sizzling with all its goodness... you can smell it, almost taste it. It is a pretty good guess that your positive emotions vis-a-vis the steak are far stronger than any emotion you have felt for air (unless someone has held your head underwater, or if you're asthmatic), or for water (exceptions excepted). Not sure if the analogy is useful, but there you have it. Edited by softwareNerd

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I've been trying to develop my ability to introspect. One thing I've been doing is attempting to rank different values in terms of importance to me. I don't think I can measure love numerically, but I can and should be able to measure it on an ordinal scale. 

 

I know this says many bad things about the way I developed but in order to attempt to rank my values I basically asked myself who would I rather die. Person X, or Person B. Both of whom I value. I'm somewhat embarrassed admitting this, but it was the first thing my mind went to when I attempted to measure love; obviously I don't want anyone to die. 

With that aside, I was able to do it. With friends. With family members. However, there was one thing I found difficult. I chose my girlfriend and am madly in love with her and in terms of intensity of emotion it 'feels' much more passionate / exciting / beautiful than some other people but I still would have preferred her to disappear over some other people I value (e.g. my dad). I think I came to this conclusion because I don't know her well enough yet and haven't been with her long enough.

 

However, I'm confused - shouldn't the intensity of my emotions be positively correlated with how much I value something? My emotions for my girlfriend are more intense than my emotions for my dad but I value him more (right now). Does this mean my emotions are not in line with reality?

 

Certainly not. It may simply mean that you value each differently (which I'm sure is true) or you value them on a different scale. Surely romantic involvement is different than familial relationships.

 

I'm trying to think up less intense ways to introspect these things but making it about death seems to just make everything certain in my mind. If I ask "who do I prefer?" the question just seems to be much more slippery and now suddenly I answer I prefer my girlfriend over my Dad - but that's only when it's not a matter of death. Something here doesn't make sense; depending on how I phrase the question in my mind the measurement of my love for someone changes.

I don't think you should compare your values to death, but you should compare it to the context of your happiness in your life. Loosing a value is one way to put something in context of how important it is to you.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

"Love" is not one thing and so it is not surprizing that you are confused. Finding an ordinal scale for value, like assigning grades to students, can be difficult because you are imposing such a scale on something that is inherently non-ordinal.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
What if we remove the human being from the example? Instead consider some food that you really love, and imagine it is there in front of you -- a nice, juicy steak, sizzling with all its goodness... you can smell it, almost taste it. It is a pretty good guess that your positive emotions vis-a-vis the steak are far stronger than any emotion you have felt for air (unless someone has held your head underwater, or if you're asthmatic), or for water (exceptions excepted). Not sure if the analogy is useful, but there you have it. 

 

Interesting! this didn't occur to me. I'm curious as to why this is the case. Could it have something to do with air being metaphysically given? Being happy" that I have air to breath is like being happy that I have legs; but the stake did not have to be and therefore requires an emotional appraisal.

I think this relates to the context and what one is imagining; this is why it's so important to ask the right question (which A is A touched on). By asking myself an impossible question I may be setting myself up for failure.

It's something I will research.

 

"Love" is not one thing and so it is not surprizing that you are confused. Finding an ordinal scale for value, like assigning grades to students, can be difficult because you are imposing such a scale on something that is inherently non-ordinal

 

I don't understand. If love is not one thing, then how many "things" is it? What "things" are you talking about? concretes?

You value something; that value is conceptualized; concepts refer to similar concretes grouped together, with their measurements omitted; love is a concept; love is therefore measurable.  

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now


  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.

×