040. Love

A discussion on the chemistry of our biology.


Questions to ponder

  1. Who are you and what inspires your love?
  2. If we could create a pharmaceutical that gave rise to that emergent property we call “love” – “a cocktail of ancient neuropeptides and neurotransmitters” – how would we regulate the use of such a drug? What attributes would this form of love lack as compared to its more “natural” counterpart?
  3. If we could “make” someone “love” us – for instance, by mixing into a meal of theirs some of the pharmaceutical in the previous question – would it be ethical to do so? What is the relationship between love and compulsion?
  4. “Underlying human romantic attachment”, Earp et al. (2015) suggests, “is a collection of interlocking brain systems that are hypothesized to have evolved to suit the reproductive needs of our ancestors.” Since contraceptive technologies have helped separate “romantic attachment” and “reproductive needs”, (how) has love changed? 
  5. Administration of oxytocin (directly to the brain in voles, through nasal spray in humans) has been observed to increase attachment between pairs. Conversely, oxytocin blockers have been shown to diminish sexual attraction and prevent pair-bonding. Should we research further the neuromodulation of love? What should we do with such information?
  6. Does love preclude/prompt certain actions from/between individuals?
  7. Love takes many forms. What features do “parental love”, “romantic love”, “sexual love”, etc. have in common and what features are type-specific?
  8. Does “love” exist outside of human beings in our universe?
  9. In the not-too-distant past (and some parts of the present), homosexual romantic relationships were considered “wrong”, biologically, socially, morally. Given that same-sex marriage in our country (and others) is legal, how was this “wrong” “righted” and are there other forms of contemporary and/or future love conditions that we ought to make sure we get “right”?
  10. What is “self-love”? Can it be pathological? In what cases? How/Can it be corrected? How is it distinct from self-esteem and general maintenance?
  11. Does love require a self? Does love require others?
  12. Do self-help books, of the variety described in Hazleden (2003), on average help their readers to love themselves more or hinder them in the process?
  13. Is it healthy to love? Is it unhealthy not to? Is there a way to secure love’s benefits for all? 
  14. Would the world be better with more love or less? Why isn’t their more/less?
  15. Is it better to love and lose than to never love at all?

Essays to consider

  1. The Neurobiology of Love
  2. The Medicalization of Love
  3. Self-Transcendence, the True Self, and Self-Love
  4. Love yourself: The relationship of the self with itself in popular self-help texts