Your love is not special

As a nod to the classic Bill Hicks bit your children aren’t special, I’d like to extend that by saying your love is not special, either.

I’m not a cynic. Nor am I one of those people who don’t know love. I’m just saying there’s no need to romanticize romance to a degree that’s irrational.

In a discussion on digg.com about some research a few years ago that revealed that passionate love fades on average a year after it begins, there was rampant resistance to the idea that scientific analysis can be applied to the phenomenon of love.

My two cents on this were the following: Why would something need to be mystical, mysterious, or beyond reduction to a scientific explanation in order for it to be beautiful? Does knowing that our experience of infatuation is regulated by hormones in any way cheapen the intensity of it?

I was always so annoyed by the scene in Contact where Matthew McConaughey turns to Jodie Foster and asks her, “Do you love your father? Prove it.” As if to imply, we can’t prove God or love, but they’re both real. Aggh, stab me with a spoon! There are several problems with this “argument,” not the least of which being that it is emotionally manipulative hollywood claptrap, but for the purposes of this blog post I will just say this. We can prove love. We can see it on an MRI and measure it on an EEG. We can observe recurrent patterns and fit it into a model of human behavior. Love is actually quite well documented.

So what is love? Love is hormones and neurons firing off in such a way as to yield an evolutionary advantage. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a great ride. I just don’t entertain any illusions about the cosmic significance of it.

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