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Friday, February 13, 2009

the philosophy of the erotic

The three philosophy-related lectures on eros could not have been better staged than in the love month, that of February. It is during this time that lovers affirm their desire for their respective objects, and part of this affirmation is the process of inquiry about love—in other words, a philosophy of the eros. The lectures served as platforms of this inquiry.
In the first lecture by Prof. Raj Mansukhani entitled “Eros and the Quest for Wholeness,” three points were dealt with: (1) the reason for the powerfulness of romantic love, (2) the importance of romantic love, and (3) the objective of romantic love. In the first, a theme emerged expressing that the archetypal nature of romantic love makes it mystifying. In the second, a theme emerged expressing that love is important because it is an avenue for self-knowledge. In the third, a theme emerged that romantic love is only a stage at which wholeness is achieved in order to fit the nobler love that causes marriage and relationships.
Apart from the amazing clarity of the abovementioned points, I am moved into thinking about the first point of the mystery that love is. When I am reminded that love’s power rests on the unconscious, I associate this to the need to satisfy the curiosity by uncovering the hidden. I believe that humans are naturally inclined to pursue the true nature of anything that lies in the unknown, so that the chance to know it finally gives one a sense of achievement, of learning through discovery. When something has been unnamed and one finds the opportunity to recognize it, one reaches a point of realization. In terms of love, one finds the object so alluring for its mystique that one is seduced into knowing the other, hopeful that something gets revealed.
I am also moved into thinking about the second point of the importance of romantic love as a chance at knowing oneself. As one pursues to unveil the mystery of the other, it becomes possible that the revelation is something about oneself, too. It is an attractive notion to discover oneself in the process of knowing the other. After all, everybody shares commonness and its discovery is triggered by knowing the other.
Also, when I realized that romantic love is not sufficient ground for marriage or relationship, I am somewhat disturbed because the completeness I felt during the times I get attracted to people might have been a false one. Coming to think about it, I begin to understand that love develops into something more or deeper than the romantic variety, so that the wholeness becomes possible. It must mean that in loving someone, one should know oneself too, and these double realizations make love lead to completeness.
In the second lecture by Prof. Jeffrey Centeno entitled “Restless Heart: Towards an Existential Ontology of Eros in Augustine,” three points were likewise explored: (1) existential ontology is the process of constructing the sense of humanity on the basis of Being, (2) Eros depicts the reality of transcendence essential to philosophy, and (3) Eros is tasked at letting one know oneself. In the end, there was a realization that knowing the eros in the context of humanity clarifies the relationship between human sexuality and spirituality.
Thinking of St. Augustine’s quote which goes, “You have made us for yourself, Lord, and our heart is restless until it rests in you,” I found that the heart seeks something and does not get settled until that something is discovered. I realized the transformative quality of love not only among people related by it but also over the person who experiences eros. I realized that the two lectures are one in saying that the uncovered mystery not only leads to the unfolding of the other but also of the consciousness about oneself. With the second lecture’s linking of eros with humanity to parallel that of sexuality and spirituality, love becomes more than just the discovery of others and one’s own self.
In the third lecture by Fr. Maxell Aranilla entitled “The Christian Philosophy of Love: Revisited,” man’s loving and being loved echoes the first two lectures’ motif of affirming one’s self-knowledge as a way of existing. Again, three points were explored: (1) one is loving and being loved, (2) one is loving an other real being and another real being is loving one, and (3) one and the other engage in a real dialogue. In the first point, one’s being the subject and object of love are real experiences happening in time and space. In the second, the subject and object of love exist for each other as real persons, not mere imaginations. In the third, as real persons love each other, they mutually give and share love to complete their respective existence, mimicking and, ultimately, affirming the love existing between man and God.
Learning that objectivity and subjectivity of love, the idea of knowing oneself through uncovering the other’s mystery becomes clearer because each other’s existence becomes complete. That being symbolized by love, God, becomes a reality when reciprocal love exists among a subject and an object. Not only do I get acquainted by love of passion but of the nobler love that is agape love or love of others. I believe that is what makes love more meaningful: when it is shared with others and not only concentrated toward oneself. It brings self-knowledge but more importantly, it makes one approach the fountainhead of love, God.

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