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Irrational Unrequited Love

Irrational Unrequited Love.

Love is conceptually irrational, in the sense that it cannot be described in rational or meaningful propositions. However, the philosophical discussion regarding unrequited love logically begins with questions concerning its nature. This implies that love has a nature, a proposition that some may oppose. These critics present a metaphysical and epistemological argument of love, where it is an ejection of emotions that defy rational examination; on the other hand, some do not even admit the concept, which negates the possibility of a philosophical examination.

In English, the word “love,” which is derived from Germanic forms of the Sanskrit lubh (desire), is broadly defined and hence imprecise, which generates first order problems of definition and meaning, which are resolved to some extent by the reference to the Greek terms, eros, philia, and agape.

As discussed in my post Historical Literature on Unrequited Love, the term eros is used to refer to the passionate form of love constituting intense desire for something. It is interesting to notice the similarity between eros and erotic, the latter meaning sexual desire.

It has been found that reciprocity is not necessary to Plato’s view of love, or platonic love, for the desire is for the object, shared values and pursuits, rather than the company of the object of love. Love is mostly believed to be an intrinsically higher value than appetitive or physical desire, and many philosophers hold this true for platonic unrequited love. Physical desire is notably held in common with the animal kingdom. Hence, a love produced by rational discourse and exploration of ideas, which in turn defines the pursuit of ideal beauty is of a lower order of reaction and stimulus than a rationally induced love. Accordingly, the physical love of an object, an idea, or a person in itself is not a proper form of love, and unrequited love has mostly been related to this form of love.



Unlike the desiring and passionate yearning of eros, philia entails a fondness and appreciation of the other. This is found mostly in a mature, interdependent relationship. According to the Greeks, the term philia incorporates not just friendship, but also loyalties to family and one’s job, discipline or political community. Philia is motivated for the sake of both the people in love and for the sake of each other’s benefit. The friendship is wholly useful and the motivational distinctions are derived from love for another as in the case of business contacts, or because their character and values are pleasing. It is noteworthy that philia will change if those attractive habits change, causing a loss of friendship. Regardless of the other person’ s feelings in the relationship, if the basic character changes, love changes in philia.

Proper basis for philia is objective. The kinds of things we seek in proper friendship- those who bear no grudges, who share our dispositions, who are temperate, who seek what we do and just who admire us appropriately as we admire them, and so on. Philia could not emanate from those who are quarrelsome, gossips, aggressive in manner and personality, who are unjust, and so on. And hence, philia can only develop in people who feel mutual love and respect for each other. The best characteristics of philia produce the best kind of friendship and hence love.

The most rational man is said to be the person who can be the best friend of his partner, and hence, carries the best form of philia. He forms a relationship where two individuals are alike and in virtue and good to each other. While this form of connection is rare to find, it has been noted that such men are happy me and perfect to form a bonding with. With the characteristics of philia becoming more and more rare to find, philosophers agree that it is the best form of bonding, when found.

On the other hand, unrequited love often forms in friendships of a lesser quality. These friendships are mostly based on the pleasure or utility that is derived from another’s company. A business friendship or an interdependent relationship is based on utility–on mutual reciprocity of similar business interests, or mutual independence; once the business is at an end, then the friendship dissolves. Or when the balance in interdependence is spoilt, the relationship goes sour. This is similar to those friendships based on the pleasure that is derived from the other’s company, which is not a pleasure enjoyed for whom the other person is in himself, but in the flow of pleasure from mutually beneficial actions.


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