Monday, August 31, 2009

Making Dynamic Love with a Carving Knife

Love is a strange thing.

It's especially strange when you're the kind of person who cuts preferentially away from the soul using Ockham's Razor. Once you're done slicing a person up into a pile of least assumptions, all that you're left with is the physical body and the mind that is fired off within it. Even the mind can be cut away, and rightfully should be, but in the context of this argument it makes more sense to leave it whole for a while. This is because love is a verb: you love someone, you love their body, you love their mind, you might even love their soul if you believed that it existed.

Imagine that a person who has cut down to the mind and body loved someone so much that they lived with them, that they identified with them, and then one day after some kind of toxic shock, stroke, or other mental trauma their partner's personality entirely changed. Their partner was no longer the same person in all observable aspects other than their body. The mind is different, but the body is the same. Would this person still identify with their partner, would they still live with them? In the case that they did continue to live and love their partner, it seems that you could reasonably say that their relationship was rather superficial, after all it seems obvious that what our person loved wasn't their partners personality as they continued to love unabated after the mind that they were familiar with disappeared. At the same time, the moral of the story resists the nobility of leaving ones partner in a time of stress. That said, we're quite happy with the idea that someone may leave their partner if "they're not the person that they married", and conversely again we resist the idea that we'd leave someone because they became disfigured in an accident. These moral considerations of the loss of mind or body are causing a degree of havoc for those who make love with a carving knife.

Maybe the problem lies in that we haven't carved finely enough. We've allowed the mind to stick around as a separate entity too long – after all isn't the mind is a function of body? But even this doesn't solve the problem acceptably, because if our protagonist really identified with his partner and fell in love with that body, mind and soul as a single sleek object then any significant change in any of these functions would cause our subject to view their partner with a degree of criticism and loss.

All these thoughts have lead me to sleepless nights as I've stood over my sleeping partner with Ockham's carving knife in my hand observing that more that I make judgements like "a body with an eternal soul that we can not detect, measure or identify has riskier assumptions than a body without a soul that ends upon death" or "a mind being the result of the body and it's experiences is less philosophically daring than a mind being the result of itself with its own ability to generate original thoughts" the more I find myself cutting into her, watching her degrade before my eyes from a complicated holistically loved person to a pile of least assumptions each with it's own risk of change and loss. I then realised that I've got one more cut to make. "A love that is static and materially idealises a person, regardless of how many pieces they are chopped into, requires many more prepositions and complications than a love that is dynamic and is as much about being loved back than it is about loving."

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