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A Note on Love and Truth

November 28, 2010

I fear some may perceive my previous post as  ‘cynical’ despite Fromm’s explication of why it’s not really cynical.

I fear some may think I’m advocating a cold-blooded, sterile, impersonal  rationalism that rejects human emotions such as  warmth, kindness, compassion, tenderness, and love.  I don’t see it that way.

“Reason and emotion are both distorted when they are split apart.”  Another  Erich Fromm quote that I treasure.

This (false) assumption that reason and emotion are enemies seems to have started with the Industrial Revolution. You see it in Pop Culture  in the non-human characters on Star Trek like Mr. Spock and Data: “I am sorry Captain. I do not understand human emotions. They are not logical. Pleas explain them to me.”  But  the most powerful intellects in human history belonged to passionate men and women.  The  geniuses of human history were not coldly detached people.  When we look a the animal world, we see that higher intelligence goes hand in hand with complexity of emotion: the difference between a fish and a dog, say.  Emotional complexity goes together with higher intelligence. 

Anthropologist Marvin Harris, in his closing words to his monumental  work Cultural Materialism, the struggle for a science of culture  (Random House: New York, 1970) states:

“To assert, as Alvin Gouldner (1970:103) does, that ‘objectivity is the compensation men offer themselves when their capacity to love has been crippled’ is to deny that truth can be both the object and means of expressing love.  To erect a barrier between truth and love is to wantonly degrade and limit human nature.  There are many, but no enough, for whom objectivity is the path that leads to both.”  [emphasis added]

Finally, if you happen to be a  Christian, please remember that the Gospel of John       refers to the Holy Spirit as both the  ‘Sprit of Love’ and as the “Spirit of Truth’ interchangeably, as if those are two ways of saying the same thing, as if they were  two aspects of  the same underlying and simultaneous  unity.  Implying, in other words, that  there is no conflict or separation between love and truth, that they are divinely, inexorably,  intertwined…


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