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Profile: lesdmd
User Name: lesdmd
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Joined: Sunday, October 30, 2011
Last Visit: Monday, October 31, 2011 9:49:18 AM
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Topic: Love means to love that which is unlovable; or it is no virtue at all.
Posted: Sunday, October 30, 2011 9:57:57 PM
MTC wrote:
Chesterton's statement is thought-provoking hyperbole. Does anyone really believe that Love is not a virtue unless it is bestowed on the unloveable?
If taken literally that would mean a significant amount of Love would be "unvirtuous." We love our family, a warm circle of friends and lovers around us, our pets, possibly our nation and maybe even mankind in general. Some of these may arguably be quite loveable. And what about self-love which most acknowledge as the predicate for a full life? In one dumb stroke Chesterton vitiates so much of Love, it is hard to believe anyone could take his crabbed definition at face value. Only saints loving the unworthy are virtuous in their Love? This is beyond riduculous. Chesterton's claim can charitably be undrstood as a reminder that loving the unloveable is a special virtue we should attempt to emulate--not that loving the loveable is "unvirtuous."

But Chesterton does not simply say "Loving that which is unloveable is a special virtue", he qualifies his meaning of love to have virtue only if it is bestowed on the unloveable. Your generous "charitable" understanding of the statement reads far more into it than is there. All love, except perhaps narcissism, no matter where it is directed, is virtuous; and some love and some things are more easily conferred with it than others. I would go so far as to say that it is an iniquity to love those things so undeserving as to be contemptible. Let the saints or gods provide perfect love.
Topic: Love means to love that which is unlovable; or it is no virtue at all.
Posted: Sunday, October 30, 2011 5:02:02 PM
Thank you for directing your response back toward me, Floyd. I'll try to clarify and elaborate around your thoughts:

Maybe the buddhist phrase "loving-kindness" would make more sense than "love". I might have said, for example. that "Living fully means having loving-kindness for all people, including those who seem unlovable." I don't remember ever meeting a person that I wouldn't want to treat that way.
>>I would certainly like, and attempt, to lead a life dispensing "loving kindness, and hoping it is reciprocated. Unfortunately I have met and know of people that "take" but never "give back"; and while giving love is sufficient reward in itself, I have little time to waste on those who are belligerent and hateful. It may be soul cleansing to "love your enemies" but it is often unproductive and even dangerous. This doesn't mean I don't try, only that there is a limit to my efforts.

It may be that only a "Pollyanna" can love, but reserving love solely for our children may be the tribal response that causes so much ill in the world. I want my love to go beyond my family, don't you? Even though I really (!) love my family.
>>I don't think I ever said only a Pollyanna can love, however a Pollyanna, by definition, finds good in everything and everyone; and while that good may be deep down inside somewhere I question whether we have an obligation to dig it out. History is replete with tyrants who I think repudiated any claim they might have on being treated with "loving kindness"; and while I would like to believe, and at one time probably did believe, John Lennon's "All you need is love" I find it rather naive at this point in my life. Unconditional love for children may indeed be a tribal response but it does not preclude loving outside the clan. There is a biological and an moral imperative to love one's children that one helped bring into the world.

Finally, what you say implies that all love is without reserve, without consideration, and without any sort of judgment. Is love really that simple? I don't think so -- I may love you, or share loving-kindness with you, and still make the judgment not to help you break out of prison.
>>I certainly never meant to imply that "love is without reserve, without consideration, and without any sort of judgment." Actually, I feared that I was being judgmental by suggesting that I impose my qualifiers before agreeing to provide "loving-kindness". I think it is far more simplistic to say I live a life of "loving kindness" applied to everyone I meet, than to say I weigh a person's attitudes and actions before granting him "loving-kindness." I think we may be circling around the very definition of what constitutes love. Even though I don't come close to believing in a conventional God, I believe "God is Love" the sense that perfection is achieving Love and that humans are neither perfect nor God.

Thanks for helping me to keep chewing on this subject. It's been good to "talk" with you.
>>I've very much enjoyed having the opportunity to sort out my thoughts. Nice "talking" to you too.


P.S. I'm still having trouble with the way Chesterton said what he apparently said: "Love means to love that which is unlovable."

Would we say that help means to help that which is beyond help? Or that belief means to believe that which is unbelievable? Or that writing means to write that which is unwritable? Or that understanding means to understand that which is incomprehensible? Or that changing means to change that which is immutable? Give it up, floyd . . .
Topic: Love means to love that which is unlovable; or it is no virtue at all.
Posted: Sunday, October 30, 2011 1:03:53 PM
Sorry, but I think Chesterton is wrong on this one. To love, without reserve, without consideration, without any sort of judgment, is being a Pollyanna; and probably should be reserved solely for one's children. There are evil people on this planet and I may choose to forgive, absolve, or pity them; but I don't think I am prepared to go as far as love. This may not be in accord with many religious teachings, but then the world does not seem to subscribe to a uniform code. Perhaps in another universe, or another life...

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