'Love' said one boy to another 'is a very real and powerful emotion, it drives people to do all sorts of crazy things.'
'it's a delusion.' replied the other 'there's no such thing as love. It's simply an imbalance of hormones. I don't believe in love.'
'But I've seen it. I know people who've been affected by it, who sing songs about it, who make radical life changes to get it. It's real, how can you say 'I don't believe in it?''
'I only believe in things I can see.'
'You can see love. Just go to the next school disco.'
'That's not love, that's adolescence. It's called the development of our need to reproduce and secure an evolutionary future. It's called insecurity needing to find security or lust needing to find an finishing point, it's not romantic, it's not noble, it's not love.'
'ok, perhaps the school disco isn't the best place to start. What about an older more, well, balanced couple? Look at the village tea rooms on Saturday, see the old couples who've been together for decades still laughing at each others jokes, still finding one another attractive, still being committed to one another, still very much in love with one another. You can't say that's not love in action.'
'I don't deny the power of the chemical imbalance you call love. Let's be honest though, for most people love is only an idea or an ideal. The reality is that half those old couples are putting on a show. Most aren't long term life partners, most are probably in their second or third marriages. Anyway that's not love that's compromise for the sake of an easy life. Some where along the line someone had to give up a part of themselves, to stop being true to themselves. They found themselves too far in, they had to stick it out. Most people who've been together as long as some of those old folks pretend like they're in love when they're just comfortable, conforming to how society expects people in their situation to behave.'
'But that's my point. You call it compromise, I call it love. When someone voluntarily without exaction gives a part of themselves to another, that's love!'
'I'm confused. Why do you insist on naming something love that's clearly only genetic propagation. Of course people do silly things like sacrifice for another, we all do; we all are hardwired to do whatever we can to secure a future for our genes. It's an instinct, you can't control it, it's just nature taking its course. You're a slave to an outdated ideal. Call it love if you like but it's only chemical imbalance and evolution in action.'
'what about when people act in a self-sacrificial loving way for someone who's not of their tribe or cast or creed? What then? My genes don't benefit one bit from that.'
'empathy is a very powerful emotion. We see ourselves in others, in their time of need and we're driven to help them as a result. We're not helping others out of a self-forgetful martyr love, we're doing it because we would want someone to do the same for us. Also we're all wired to behave in ways that further the cause of our species, but that doesn't make it love.'
'I've never experienced love so I can't comment but I did have a crush on that girl from maths. I've never experienced anything else like it, it was amazing!'
'I'd never deny the power of those feelings, I just don't think we need to go around calling it love. See it for what it is, nature taking it's cause. See it for what it is and don't get all soppy about it. Love? Such a ridiculous idea.'
'that doesn't sound very romantic...'
'...but I've seen it in action, I've heard the enthusiasm and excitement with which people talk about love. How can you not believe in it?'
'I only believe what I can see with my eyes. I can't see love. I can see chemical alterations in response to objects of attraction, but that's all it is. It isn't love.'
'but we're not only body and brains. We're immaterial, soulish and spiritual as well. No one lives their lives like Spok, we're made to feel things deeply. It's what makes us human, it's what sets us apart. Love, beauty, logic, morality - human things.'
'don't be ridiculous. We're machines. When we're switched off we cease to function, that's all and there's definitely no Love with a capital 'L' to receive us. There's no heaven, no hell, there's just nothing.'
'what about the experience of others, of countless men and women, their insights, their longings, their poetry and beauty and encounters with Love? What about experience. I'm not only intellect...'
'not even by the sounds of things,'
'...I'm emotional, I'm social. I gather my data form the world not only from my eyes but from my gut, my heart, my deep instincts. I can trust those things, that compass to set me on a path to a much more holistic experience of life than the kind of things you're describing.'
'delusion. Chemical and genetic confusion, that's all.'
'I guess you have to experience some things to understand them don't you?'
'I guess so. But if our experience seems to take us away from repeatable experiments conducted in laboratories then I don't think it should be trusted. Only believe what you can see with your eyes, that's what I say.'
'Right. How do I know that's true?'
'Because I'm not trusting anything other than what I can repeatedly present to your eyes.'
'I've seen people respond to love. I've seen the affect it has on people. Why don't you believe that?'
'Exactly, you said it yourself. You've seen the effect it has. You've seen how biology affects emotion affects behaviour - THAT ISN'T LOVE.'
'This idea of yours, this philosophy, that I should only trust repeatable sciences, can I see that idea?'
'No, it's a concept. It's my mind's deductions. It's not a material thing.'
'oh. What about things that are beautiful in this world. Why do call it beauty? Why are some things aesthetically and soulfully pleasing?'
'beauty... it's got something to do with... things just look nice, colour is pleasing. Besides I'm sure you've noticed how the prettier people seem to score more often at the discos. We appreciate beauty because we recognise in it an increased chance of reproduction,'
'are you saying you think you want to make love to a sunset? Beauty, art, delight it touches a deep part of us. Heroism, story, wonder all valuable and tangible human experiences, none laboratory experiment-able.'
'You'll always find something to fill the gaps in your knowledge won't you. You clearly want to believe in love and so you'll interpret things to fit with that idea.'
'perhaps. But then I didn't want to believe in love. I've seen the damage it can do, I've met people who've been damaged by it. I'd rather love didn't exist. I'd rather just live and die by my urges, that's easier surely.'