Love: The unparalleled socio-cultural experience | Salem Al Hosani - GulfToday

Love: The unparalleled socio-cultural experience

Salem Al Hosani

Salem is an Emirati analyst.

Salem is an Emirati analyst.


Image for illustrative purpose only.

Elucidating what love is a question that seems to have existed since the creation of the world, and an unambiguous answer to which has not yet been found. Millions of pages are devoted to this fundamental problem: the notion of love is encountered both in art and in philosophical texts, religious treatises, and scientific research. Love is essentially a multifaceted concept. It can be viewed as the greatest socio-cultural phenomenon, which consists in understanding it as one of the fundamental characteristics of human existence and the most important component of the human spirit that arises in the process of human social development.

Thus, love is a complex social and spiritual phenomenon, the uniqueness of which lies in its inherent personal, spiritual, individual, social, intimate, and generally accepted features, organically merged with each other. The relation of these characteristics, the share of the sane and the insane, the physical and the spiritual in love are an eternal theme of philosophical reflections. The social meaning of love lies in its understanding as one of the fundamental characteristics of human existence, the most important component of the human spirit, arising in the process of human social development and associated with relationships between people.

Love is among those words expressing an almost absolute abstraction, and there is no doubt that people put different meanings into its concept. Love is probably the most tempting and fascinating of all feelings, but it also can be the most disheartening and upsetting. It can grant one the strongest satisfaction as well as the most severe pain, the biggest joy and the starkest agony. The combination of love’s ‘pros and cons’ deeply affects how it is perceived. This feeling is so thousand-strong that no one has yet been able to capture it in the net of conceptual logic. However, individual love has a right to exist, and in this regard, it would be vital to underline one its distinct feature, namely universality: every one of us will eventually surrender to such a knockdown feeling. The cause behind this is simple as that: love is the most prominent and easiest way of self-affirming oneself and delving into a life that is incomplete without love.

Love is the moral basis for the unity of the sexes and the creation of a marriage union, and in this sense, it can be understood as a way of survival of the human population. Each of the relationships based on love is as socially multifaceted as family or marriage. On the other hand, love is more a complex system of relationships than a family. It unites not only spouses and their children but can also serve as a foundation for uniting any social community. Consequently, love is not only determined by culture but is also its foundation, since it contributes to the unity of one person with another, unites families, nations and peoples and, as a result, serves as an effective factor for the unification of all mankind.

While we may explain what love is in attempts to understand it, the pursuit of the phenomenon is not a simple task. There are certain types of love that come in a natural manner such as storge love, or the love of inanimate objects, and some types of love like eros, philia, or often self-love that require time and effort. Furthermore, while we may understand what love is, this does not mean that we can choose how it affects our state of mind. Armed with our understanding of love, all we can do is open up to the opportunities to live love and experience it in a meaningful way. In spite of the versatility we have with love, we will see that all these differences are combined into one phenomenon, love.

Lastly, a person cannot live without love, because it is love that encourages people to live. Yet, it also contains our major weakness, our fragility and mortality. The ability to enjoy and the ability to suffer go together like joy and sadness, like love and hate. This is what condemns us to hope and fear, to joy and pain, and sometimes even to tragedy and dissatisfaction.

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