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This first perspective is from Ayn Rand.
Ayn Rand is what you would call an Objectivist. That is, that reason and logic is the only true way through which we can acquire knowledge–implicitly rejecting religion and faith. She arrives at this through the subjectivity of human experience, that reality exists outside of human consciousness and our perceptions of the world can be defined only through inductive and deductive reasoning. Of course, that statement cannot be proved through reason or logic, but that is beyond the scope of this blog. Moreover, a myriad of other things cannot be proved through empirical evidence–love is the first that comes to mind.
Objectivism means that the human pursuit in life (a human assignment, mind you) is aggrandizement of the self. Therefore, her perspective on love are somewhat different from what we are used to, to the point where it is almost Stoic. She says:
“Love should be treated like a business deal, but every business deal has its own terms and its own currency. And in love, the currency is virtue. You love people not for what you do for them or what they do for you. You love them for the values, the virtues, which they have achieved in their own character.” -Ayn Rand.
The second perspective is from Don Miller.
I know I’ve been speaking about Don Miller a lot recently, and I know that I am quick to say state my disagreements with him as well. Yet, to his own protests, I would define him as an Emergent. Hence, I do dislike some aspects of his work, but most aspects of his work is quite wonderful. He provides a wonderful foil to what Rand has said above, defining love purely by what it can do for you. After all, what is the point of loving someone if they don’t love you back?
In her book, “An Introduction to Objectivist Epistemology”, Rand argues that love is measurable–it is only Romanticism that muddies the waters. A man may not marry a person because it would affect their class or other people’s perception of him–”still another man may risk his life to save the woman he loves, because all his other values would lose meaning without her.” (33-34) She uses this to define varying amount of self-sacrifice to create a hierachy of love. Yet, what is love if it is not all love?
Don Miller provides the antithesis to Rand, and proposes a selfless love–one that would love if there was going to be no return, nothing good inside the person you love. Loving purely because it is our inherent nature as humans to love.
“Mr Spencer asked us about an area in which he felt metaphors cause trouble. He asked us to consider relationships. What metaphors do we use when we think of relationships? We value people, I shouted out. Yes, he said, and wrote it on his little white board. We invest in people, another person added. And soon enough we had listen an entire white board of economic metaphors. Relationships could be bankrupt, we said. People are priceless, we said. All economic metaphor. I was taken aback.
The problem of Christian culture is we think of love as a commodity. We use it like money…if somebody is doing something for us, offering us something, be it gifts, time, popularity, or what have you, we feel they have value, we feel they are worth something to us, and, perhaps, we feel they are priceless.” - Miller, Don. Blue Like Jazz. pg 218.
What is Love? Is your Love really love, if it isn’t love to the end?