Love


Is love only the result of social evolution, or something more?

Is love only the result of social evolution, or something more?
Is love only the result of social evolution, or something more?
On this Page:
Extending the Wiser Designer Argument
Preface: Kripke's Identity Theory
Thesis: Love is only a Symbol for Altruism, Learned by Social Evolution
Antithesis: Love is a Universal Property
The Love Dialectic
(Click the images for a lightbox slideshow)

Extending the Wiser Designer Argument

This is a placeholder for a future article taking an entirely new tact on whether love is 'real.' It will build on the Wiser Designer Argument to consider whether love is a symbol for altruism produced by social evolution, or a universal mental property, as according to Kripke's identity theory. It concludes with a new concept of inteinsice goodness in normative ethics, as its premise, the Wiser Designer argument, is also new.

Preface: Kripke's Identity Theory

To ask "is love real?" is to ask "to what does the symbol 'love' refer?" Identity theory To make the argument accessible, first I provide a description of Kripke's theory that does not require knowing more about formal logic.

Kripke starts with the same radical skepticism expressed by Descartes and Wittgenstein, then works through the entire field of propositional logic in an attempt to resolve the semantics of the ‘identity’ problem. Kripke is reputed to have started with the ancient paradox of Theseus’ ship.

The Paradox of Theseus' Ship: according to legend, Theseus slowly replaced each timber in his ship until none of the original timber was left. How, then, do we still think of it as the same ship? From a perspective of semantics, Theseus' ship is the 'subject' or 'object' of both sentences In natural language and propositions in formal logic. Subjects and objects must exist in some way, in order for one to perform a meaningful truth evaluation.

Kripke's solution starts by suggesting that 'states' and 'events' are represented by symbols that have no intrinsic meaning of their own, but are referred to by ‘properties.’ When a property refers to a symbol, it defines a relation to other symbols. It transpires this generates a very powerful semantic system. In particular, it allows symbols to have more than one meaning IN GENERAL, and not just with respect to the mind/body distinction.

In order to describe its benefits, I’m going to describe the operation of his system using quite a bit of shorthand, because its quite complicated to write it formally. For example, one could loosely say, “the substance of reality can have physical and mental properties.” A physicalist will immediately object that mental properties don’t exist. But to spell out Kripke’s semantic model, a full statement would be “the symbol for the substance of reality has properties which relate it to the symbols for physical properties and the symbols for mental properties.” When the semantics for a statement are formally written out in Kripke’s system, the statement becomes very long, so usually philosophers just use a shorthand in natural language.

Symbols can have more than one meaning because the disposition of a context defines which properties are applicable in any one statement. To understand that, one can build a symbol up from nothing, or analyze an existing symbol:

  • One can start with a symbol that has no properties at all, like an alphabet letter in a language one does not know. Let's imagine the symbol is the greek letter pi, for example. Then we could discover that is equivalent to 'p" in English, it also exists in Russian, it's pronounced pi, it also represents a mathematical quantity. Those all become properties. Depending on the disposition of the context, it could receive meaning from any one of the properties referring to it. Then one can identify the symbol 'pie' (skipping a stage to build up the word), and the Greek letter 'pi' and the word 'pie' are both referred to by an identical pronunciation, hence, this concept of properties can even form a ''property cluster' so that the utterance "I like pi' is meaningful as a pun.
  • One can also go the other way, and start with a complex symbols, for example, a person named 'John.' 'John' is actually a symbol referred to by many properties, and depending on one's disposition to John, one could be interested in the collection of properties referring to what he is wearing, or what he is doing. Also, there can be another person with exactly the same symbol referring to him, so both are called John. One of the properties could refer to the first John's last name, Smith,' and another property could refer to the other John's last name, 'Jones.' The symbol ''John'; can be disposed to either Mr. Smith, or Mr. Jones, or in fact both or neither.
  • The semantic system allows not only for puns, but meaningful mistakes--one could get one property wrong but the rest of the properties in the collection are available to correct the error. For example, a person wanting to call Mr Jones could call him Mr Smith by mistake. But the disposition of the reference could be to the correct person in a statement like for example, 'Mr. Smith over there by the window, his first name is John." The cluster theory still allows meaningful communication, so that Mr. Smith could interject, "no that's the other John, I'm John Jones.'

After defining this semantic system, Kripke provides a long and elaborate proof in formal logic that all semantic systems, or at least all known semantic systems, are subsets or equivalent to Kripke’s system. Kripke's thought is still accepted to this day, so it is the most reliable theory of identity currently available.

Thesis: Love is only a Symbol for Altruism, Learned by Social Evolution

(To be Continued)

Antithesis: Love is a Universal Property

(To be Continued)

The Love Dialectic

(To be Continued)

~Wishing you all a beautiful day :)