A Philosophical Review on Liberation of Love
Love is one of the most important values in human life. Love has a qualitative difference from the ‘means’ of sustaining life. It’s because love is the ‘purpose’ of human life. Loving is an element of life that makes it brilliant and shiny. However, to discuss about love in a philosophical perspective, there are some prerequisites that need to be explained. First, love is a relational concept. Love forms its substance through relationships between people. Second, the ‘concept of love’ changes over times in that it is a relationship between ‘people’, especially people living at a specific time and place. In other words, the concept and the definition of love is a product of time and society. Third, above all, love is a practical concept. Love is not given from the outside. On the contrary, it is done and made by humans.
The theme of this article is a ‘philosophical review’ of the ‘liberation of love’. At this point in time, why should we discuss the liberation of love? As previously presupposed, love can be rather humanistic or antihumanistic depending on the period of time and era. And from this perspective, the main reason of writing this article is, in the light of the fact that these days, love faces various obstacles from being a genuine, humanistic love. In fact, just as the Korean poet Lee Sung-bok once said "Loving with a settled method is not love", it is difficult to define what ‘love’ is. However, I think we have the ability to judge what is ‘not love’ and what ‘inhumane love’ is. Today's love has only relationships and no room for human beings. Love tends to be formed through material, not through individual personality and spirit. This kind of mammonism and individualism becomes the cause of constant loneliness. And it is a sad reality that people who live in a society overwhelmed by loneliness, has a tendency to be lead by abnormal and selfish ways to find 'a soul mate of a lifetime'. This actively demonstrates that today's love is shackled without fulfilling its role as the ‘light’ that makes the whole world more beautiful. This is the main reason love should be liberated.
Then, what kind of obstacles should love be liberated from? First of all love must be liberated from materialistic relationships. Material refers to money, status, class, etc. These concepts are closely related to the foundation of the times of capitalism. Therefore, I would like to quote what Karl Marx, a German philosopher who showed cold criticism of capitalism, said about love. This is a phrase from the Marx’s 「Economic & Philosophic Manuscripts of 1844」.
“Assume man to be man and his relationship to the world to be a human one: then you can exchange love only for love, trust for trust, etc. (…) Every one of your relations to man and to nature must be a specific expression, corresponding to the object of your will, of your real individual life. If you love without evoking love in return — that is, if your loving as loving does not produce reciprocal love; if through a living expression of yourself as a loving person, you do not make yourself a loved person, then your love is impotent — a misfortune."
According to Marx, human relationships should be direct encounters. Love must be formed according to human personality, human aspect, and natural needs. But in capitalist society, material intervenes in between, distorting true love. Material sometimes furnishes individuality and ability to those who do not have them. On the other hand, it deprives a spirit from those who have a genuine personality. But most importantly, material breeds a ‘subordination of love’. Material-based love causes a materialistic-mentalistic dependency by subordinating the economically weak to a person with economic ability. Therefore, if love is liberated from material relationships, it is possible to reach human love based on equal-mutual relations.
Second, love must be liberated from exclusivity. Nowadays, in a conventional perspective, love tends to be limited to relations between lovers. In fact, this is a concept related to subordination. On a personal level, materialistic love that includes the concept of possession and subordination hinders our vision to see the opponent as an ‘independent person’ or ‘a independent person that has a sexual desire and ability’. A person thinks that 'loving' means having the exclusive right to possess another person's soul and body. And this results to containments and exclusivity of other human beings.
However, we should know that love doesn’t just exist between lovers. As presupposed, exclusive love has two main problems. First, it constraints opponent’s sexual freedom by deepening the notion of ownership. Second, it brings fragmentation of society by deepening familism. On the contrary, love without exclusivity, love can be the foundation of good faith in others and may work as the driving force in beautifully illuminating the world. And we call this kind of love ‘love of humanity’ or ‘camaraderie’.
If love is liberated from exclusivity, love may create equal enthusiasm and dedication between lovers, and on the other hand, love may create warmth and beauty socially. Especially, the particular reason that ‘love of humanity’ is not blind but rather a concept based on the new principles of fraternity and bond, love can save the world from darkness, from difficulty, from hardship. For example, Bishop Miriel’s love from the Victor Hugo’s novel 「Les Misérables」, saved Jean Valjean’s soul and turned him into a man who tried to practice love.
To sum up everything that has stated so far, love should be liberated from materialistic relationships and exclusivity. However, this kind of liberation is also a problem that cannot be solved only by individual consciousness and will. The conditions should be prepared at the social level for such love. In other words, essentially, the liberation of love can be achieved through the liberation of the world from material relationships and exclusivity. However, as previously argued, love is not given from the outside. Love is a concept of ‘practice’, ‘make’, and ‘do’. And the subject of such practice is ourselves. In that respect, a society that suppresses liberated love is also an object of practice. It is, after all, our role to send ‘feudal moral commandments’ and ‘materialistic forged love’ to museums and liberate love. And through this process, we will become human beings with the ability to truly love.