In sexuality, the object is not exclusive, but belongs to a certain type that causes us more desire than a person of another type. The personality is not important in itself (unless we are talking about the combination of sexuality and love). The main thing in sexuality is pleasure (primarily of a physiological kind) and the desire for this pleasure.
– Then what is eroticism, how does this phenomenon differ from the first two?
– This is probably the most difficult component to understand, because we, as a rule, are not used to thinking in such categories. If immediately on the merits of the question, then eroticism is primarily associated with our striving for the Beautiful. With such an aspiration, when we ourselves, as it seems to us, dissolve in it and even forget ourselves. Eroticism may have nothing to do with love or sexuality, but most often in the context of what we are talking about now, it merges with the first or the second, or both. It so happens that at some point we have, as they say, “breathtaking”. And you are so delighted with how wonderful the other person is that in your love for him you can reach self-forgetfulness. This, by the way, is one of the manifestations of what in your question was designated as “passionate love.” Or in sexuality: usually our desire for pleasure is in itself very selfish, but sometimes the experience of pleasure or the desire for this pleasure turns out to be so intense that you seem to lose yourself, in other words: you go beyond your ego. Here, the combination of eroticism and sexuality gives us “sexual passion”. And philosophers, starting from Plato and ending with, say, Batay, assumed that this striving for the beautiful, infinite, total, in which a person seeks to go beyond the boundaries of only himself, is one of the main “guides” that make us love , and wish it differently.
These three components can exist separately, but they often overlap. And it is very important to understand what is driving you or your partner right now – love, sexuality, or the desire for transgressive eroticism. Then it is already possible to more consciously and responsibly build both your own behavior strategies and relationships with another person. Unfortunately, deeds of love often suffer from a lack of correct reflection, and sometimes it is very difficult for us to figure out what is happening to us or to another person, what we can count on in our relationship and how to correctly achieve what we want in reality business.
– What philosophers have studied love in detail in their works?
– There are a lot of them. Even if we adhere only to the Western tradition and do not deliberately plunge into the field of Christian theology, for which the question of love was, of course, one of the main questions, then we will get a whole galaxy. As the brightest star of ancient philosophy, I would single out, first of all, Plato. It is not for nothing that the concept of “platonic” love is familiar to almost everyone today, although it is often understood not quite the way it was in the original source. Of course, Empedocles, Aristotle, Seneca, Marcus Aurelius, and others also wrote about love.
The medieval discourse about love is extensive; it is dominated by the Christian understanding of God as the source of true love and love, as the true road to God. First of all, I would draw your attention here to Augustine. The philosophers of the modern era also did not bypass this issue, although, of course, they illuminated it in different ways. We find arguments about love and marriage in Bacon, Hume, Rousseau, and, of course, the classics of German philosophy: Kant, Fichte and Hegel. Schopenhauer must not be forgotten either. The 20th century exploded with an extremely multifaceted – and often multicolored, rainbow – palette of the most diverse teachings devoted to the problems of gender, love and sexuality. This, of course, is Freud, and Reich, and Marcuse, and Lacan, and Fromm, and, of course, Foucault and Baudrillard, and numerous theorists of feminist and gender studies, such as de Beauvoir, Wittig, Irigaray, Butler. You can’t mention all of them, of course. It is also worth noting the work of Evola, “The Metaphysics of Sex”, which stands apart in this galaxy.
In our country, this subject attracted Soloviev, Rozanov, Berdyaev and many other authors. Of the late Soviet-post-Soviet researchers, I would especially single out Kohn, the country’s “chief sexologist” of his period.
– Even in Antiquity, philosophers identified several varieties of love – filia, eros, agape (to which storge, mania, ludus were later added). Is the division into such types of love relevant now?
– If we look at the words that in Russian express approximately the same as the word “love”, then we, of course, immediately recall such lexical units as “like”, “sympathize”, “adore”, “sigh” etc. Often the question “does he love me, or does he just like me?” almost drives the young lady crazy. As a rule, there are differences in the strength of feelings between members of this synonymous series, but, in fact, are we talking about different things? In this regard, the Greek categories seem to me more clear, the fact is that they set the direction of our feeling, or, on the contrary, determine the feeling, based on who it is directed to. Thus, “eros” is an ascending love that directs us to the object of our desire that appears to us to be beautiful; “Filia” in relations between people (because filia can be addressed to other things, for example, to wisdom, as in the case of “philosophy”) – love of equals, love-friendship; “Storge” is directed into the family space, first of all it is conjugal love, love-tenderness; and “agape”, in contrast to eros, is descending love, in particular, the love of parents for their children. We see that there are certain situations and there are forms of love that are most natural for them.
Is this classification relevant today? Of course, these concepts survived Antiquity. Thus, in medieval Christian discourse, “agape” is the love of God for all people, as well as the love of one Christian for another. “Transformed eros”, free from the fleshly component, as once in Plato, directs the human soul to the most beautiful, to God. However, the meanings, of course, change somewhat, develop. Speaking about today, it is worth taking into account that, as many researchers note, most social structures, which until recently were stable and unchanging, acquire more and more dynamic, plastic, like Giddens, or “fluid”, like Bauman’s, forms … At the same time, the issue of deriving specific forms of love and their prescriptions from certain stable situations is becoming more and more problematic.
– Nowadays, the views of society on gender, gender and gender roles are being transformed. How does this affect the understanding of love by modern scientists?
– The very idea of gender and gender theories in general are a very recent phenomenon from a historical point of view. However, they did not appear suddenly and not from scratch. The emergence and development of gender theories correspond to a general change in social thought that was intended to reflect the transformations that gradually swept Western societies after World War II. The world is becoming different, the classical traditional foundations are rethought based on the new opportunities that a developed industrial society provides (it is also called the society of late capitalism or neo-capitalist). The general growth of well-being contributes to the fact that the forms of interaction between people in society turn out to be more and more diverse, variable and free without a threat to the social order as a whole. As a result, the idea that many sociocultural attitudes (and even those that were considered fundamental) are, first of all, social constructs and can be reconstructed, becomes quite acceptable and begins to conquer the minds of both theorists and ordinary people.
Gender, as we know, is thought of as a social sex, not predetermined by biological sex in a rigid form. Moreover, in particular, Butler suggests that gender may even precede sex, since much of our understanding of sex differences is also cultural and therefore gender-based. Having freed itself from the attachment to sex, gender multiplies, which ultimately serves as an attempt to overcome binary oppositions in the understanding of relationships between people, as well as their identity – weakening the binarity of male and female, heterosexual and homosexual, and even monosexual and bisexual. However, as often happens when theory merges with politics, intersects with the interests of specific social groups or even entire societies, sometimes the practical implementation of gender theory (which, however, from the very beginning already implied an appeal to practice) is not free from radical, excessive forms … This also applies to opponents of gender mainstreaming and related changes.
– A little more than a hundred years ago, half of humanity most often could not afford another goal in life than love and family. There were separate genres of love literature especially for women, but those who failed to find love were considered insolvent. Now more and more opportunities for self-realization are opening up for women, and society is slowly disaccustomed to condemning those who have come to individualistic happiness. As a result, those who consider love to be the only or main meaning of life are decreasing, and the number of supporters of alternative points of view is growing. Can we say that the role of love in our culture is gradually decreasing?
– Great question! You quite rightly drew attention to the fact that for a girl from a classical bourgeois family, a love story served as a window to another, often inaccessible to her, but so desired life. It is not without reason that Giddens calls romantic love – that is, love conceived by analogy with a novel – primarily a feminine project of self-realization. However, we should not exaggerate the actual possibilities of finding love in the realm of a typical bourgeois marriage. In particular, in the Victorian era, it was believed that a woman should find her main pleasure in pleasing her husband and performing household duties. It was not so much those women who did not find love that were condemned, as those who did not start a family corresponding to the then models. In the era of emancipation that came along with the sexual revolution of the 1960s (for the USSR – 1980s), the opportunities for self-realization of women, as you rightly noted, have grown many times over and continue to grow, but they do not contradict the opportunities for self-realization in love and sexuality, but on the contrary, they include them. Therefore, we can say that love in modern society is increasingly becoming a project of self-realization. At the same time, the traditional distinction between male and female roles is gradually being erased. At the same time, it is becoming increasingly difficult to speak about the role of “love in principle” today due to the fact that love is now “so different” that there is almost no love at all. Rather, we can talk about an increase in the role of certain forms and practices of love and the displacement of others to the edge of the stage. True, it is worth noting that these processes are heterogeneous, in different societies and cultural environments they proceed with different dynamics, and in many places, as we see, reverse movements awaken, orienting a person to more traditional models.