Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Tillich's Love, Power, and Justice (installment 1)

Notes from Paul Tillich's Love, Power, and Justice

"Ontology: What does it mean that something is? What are the characteristics of everything that participates in being? What does it mean to be?

"Ontology characterizes the texture of being itself...One cannot escape ontology if one wants to know! For knowing means recognizing something as being. And being is an infinitely involved texture, to be described by the never-ending task of ontology.

"Early philosophers, when they tried to speak in terms of the logos about the nature of being, could not do it without using words like love, power, and justice. Metaphysically speaking, love, power, and justice cannot be derived from anything that is. They have ontological dignity.

"In Plato, we find the doctrine of eros as the power which drives to the union with the true and the good itself. In his interpretation of the ideas as the essences of everything, he sees them as the 'powers of being.' And justice for Plato is not a special virtue, but the uniting form of the individual and the social body....

"Hegel started...as a philosopher of love, and his dialectical scheme is an abstraction from his concrete intuition into the nature of love as separation and reunion...

"It should also be mentioned that in psychotherapeutic literature the relation between power-drive and love is in the foreground of interest. Love has been more and more acknowledged as the answer to the question implied in anxiety and neurosis.

An Ontology of Love
"All problems concerning the relation of love to power and justice...become insoluble if love is understood as emotion....

"Life is being in actuality, and love is the moving power of life. In these two sentences the ontological nature of love is expressed. They say that being is not actual without the love which drives everything that is towards everything else that is. In humanity's experience of love, the nature of life becomes manifest. Love is the drive toward the unity of the separated...

"Love can be described as the reunion of the estranged. Estrangement presupposes original oneness. Love manifests its greatest power there where it overcomes the greatest separation. And the greatest separation is the separation of self from self. Every self is self-related and a complete self is completely self-related. It is an independent center, indivisible and impenetrable, and therefore is rightly called an individual.

"The separation of a completely individualized being from any other completely individualized being is itself complete. The center of a completely individualized being cannot be entered by any other individualized being, and it cannot be made into a mere part of a higher unity. Even as a part it is indivisible and it is as such more than a part. Love reunites that which is self-centered and individual. The power of love is not something which is added to an otherwise finished process, but life has love in itself as one of its constitutive elements. It is the fulfillment and the triumph of love that it is able to reunite the most radially separated beings, namely individual persons. The individual person is both most separated and the bearer of the most powerful love. [K: we are fragmented.]

"We have rejected the attempt to restrict love to its emotional element. But there is no love without the emotional element, and it would be a poor analysis of love whichdid not take this element into consideration. The question is only how to relate it to the ontological definition of love. One can say that love as an emotion is the anticipation of the reunion which takes place in every love-relation. Lobev, like all emotions, is an expredssion of the total participation of the being which is in an emotional state. In the moment in which one is in love the fulfiloment of the desire for reunion is anticvipted and the happiness of this reunion is experienced in the imagination. This means that the emotional element in lobve does not precede the others ontologicallhy but that the ontologically founded movement to the other person expresses itself in emotional ways. Love is a passion; this assertion implies that there is a passive element in love, namely the state of being driven towards reunion. Infinite passion for God as described by Kierkegaard is, no less than the sexual passion, a consequence of the objective situation, namely of the state of separation of whose who belong together and are driven toward each other in love. [K: We belong together, God and me.]

"The ontology of love is tested by the experience of love fulfilled. There is a profound ambiguity about this experience. Fulfilled love is, at the same time, extreme happiness and the end of happiness. The separation is overcome. But without the separation there is no love and no life. [K: We are always separated in this life.] It is the superiority of the person-to-person relationship that it preserves the separation of the self-centered self, and nevertheless actualizes their reunion in love. [K: How we remain individuals in a love relationship.] The highest form of love ... is both the subject and the object of love. [K: Appropriate love of self and other.]

"If love in all its forms is the drive towards the reunion of the separated, the different qualities of the one nature of love become understandable. ...

...to be continued...

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

thank you.

mohsen mokari said...

hi
thank you for your useful post...