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The Truong' s Foyer

Truong Thi Hue

few words
Great Ideas
the world of the man
special problems in sociology
The Truong's Foyer
beauty and art
theology and metaphysics



 Plato and Aristotle say that the opinions we hold are true when they assert that that.. which is... is, or that that which is not, is not; and thatour opinions are false when they assert that that whch is, is not, or that that which is not, is...
  This statement is the wisdom one I would like to use, before beginning my topic...
  This page is praiseworthy sister Truong thi Hue, ex-professor of college Doc Binh Kieu, Cailay, Vietnam.
different kind of love...
         Most of us when we hear the word  love, we think about the relation between man and woman. This is certainly a real and evident form of love. It is not the staple of great dramas, and romantic fiction. It is also one of the basic expressions of the wedding union, of the permanent bond between two persons.
  But this is only one of many forms of love. There is not only the love of David for Bathsheba, there is also the love between David and Jonathan, and the love of David for " Absalom, my son, my son." There is also the love of Plato for Socrates, the love between Jesus and the disciples. the love between persons who belong to a religion or intellectual fellowship. Man love their native or adopted land, their family, their ideals, and their God. We feel that we must use the same word for many different kinds of relationship, The Greeks have many words for it, but roughtly, the three philia, eros, agape are considered definition of relationship, desire, charity. Philia  is the Jonathan- David, kind of love, comrade or felloship  even not only for the persons of the same sex. Eros  is desirous, longing kind of love that is satisfied only by the possession of the loved object. We think that the sexual love between the man and the woman. Agape is the religious love, between God and man and between man and man. Thsi kind of love had been mentioned in the Bible toward God and neighbor. This emphasis is the self-giving, on devotion and service, rather than on attaining some finite satisfaction.
      These three types of love, even the erotic, are directed toward someone or something else. We are tempted to say that love is always for another. But what about self - love? Does not the injunction to love your neighbor as yourself imply that you can and should love yourself? Yet moralists and psychoanalysts frown on self - centered love as a kind of  perversity and ommaturity,  and religion counsels us to abandon our pretty self - concern. Perhalps there is a right and wrong form of self - love, and we are enjoined to love not our pretty, grasping egos but what is true and good in ourselves.
     It is not easy to separate the three kinds of love. For instance, in France lowers call each other '' my friend "  and no one can deny that there can be true friendship and comradeship between lowers. They can also be real self - sacrifice and devotion in romantic love. Erotic love  is perhaps harder to pin down than religious love. for it seems to include everything from the trivial to the sublime. It runs all the way from the puppy love of youngsters nibbling at the bonbons of amorous delight to the solid bond between two adults who have pledged themselves to one another.
     Freud,  of course, thinks that sexual or erotic lovw, derived originally from animal instinct, is the basic type of love, and that all other types are refined forms of it. I disagree with this. I believe that love essentially is good will - thinking well of others and wishing them well. It is a state of the will, not of the animal passions. Even in its earthiest form it is a giving as well as a taking. People who cannot give of themselves can never know love.
    The real problem about erotic love  arises from the strange fusion of animal passion,aesthetic sensibility, and the loving will that makes it what it is. Perhaps, this is just another paradoxical characteristic of that strange mixture of things - man. Even in what seem to be animal enjoyments he is at his most human. Erotic love  is specifically human love, and in it man may find the way to a deeper love and reality. Sexual love should be the gateway, not the barrier, to human fulfillment...

love and lust...
          When  St. Augustine  was asked  " What is time ? " he replied ..." If no one asks me, I do not know." To define love is equally difficult.  Freud, near the end of his long life confessed..."  Up to the present I have not found the courage to make broad statements on the essence of love and I think that our knowledge is not sufficient to do so... We really know very little about love. "  However, we can gain some insight by considering the views of various philosophers, poets and psychiatrists, all of whom have contributed to an understanding, if not a solution, of the prblem - what is love ?
           When a man and a woman fall in love they desire each other, but not in the samt way that they desire food and warer.  Human sexuality takes two directions : there is sex in the service of love, and there is sexdivorced from love (i.e. lust ). To desire aperson as onedesires foodor drink is lust - a completely selfish desire. But sexual love implies a fusion of soul and body. It seeks to realize itself in a union which involves knowing, understanding, compassion and self - sacrifice.
           We may never be able to tell which come first - liking  or  wanting.  Does love spring fromdesire, or desire from love?  Aristotle felt that benevolence come first;  Freud felt sexual love grows out of desire.  While the question is perhaps insoluble, it does seem to make a practical difference which way love does happen.  If sex comes first, the union is likely to be short - lived; if love come first, a more stable, fruitful union seems likely because, among other things, a more intelligent choice has been made.
            The observation of the poets and the clinical experience of the psychoanalysts and  psychiatrists seem to confirm this point..." Love and sex often coincide...". writes  Theodore Reik,  the well known psychiatrist,..."  butcoincidence is not  evidence of identity... There is no doubt among psychoanalysts that there is sex wothout love, sex - straight. but  they vehemently deny that therer can be love without sex. ". Another psychiatrist,  Erich Fromm, the author of  The Art of Loving,  warms us:...Since erotic love is the most deceptive form of love there becomes important to distinguish sexual desire per se from love. If erotic love is not also botherly love, the union is likely to be orgiastic, transitory.".
        The great poets support these views. Indeed, fascinated by the subject, they long ago anticipated some of the findings of the psychologists. If they fail to come up with a precise definition, they do at least discern some of the attributes of human love.
        Love implies passion, or as Milton put it in Paradis Lost:
               ........  with new Wine intoxicated both
                    They swim in mirth, and fansie that they feel
                    Divinitie within them breeding wings
                    Wherewith to scorn the Earth.
        Love implies constancy, or as   Shakespeare  declared :
                        Love is not love
                        Which alters when it alteration finds.
        Above all, love implies union, a union of body and soul, or as  John Donne  expressed it :
                         Love's mysteries in souls do grow
                         But yet the body is his book.
        According to an ancian Greek myth, man was originally a composite of being, half male and half female. A capricous god split him in two, with the result that the separated male and female have sought ever since to become re - united with the " other half ". Modern psychologists make the same point in a somewhat different way when they say that : "  the deepest need of man is the need to overcoe his separateness, to leave the prison of his aloneness..."
love of things and of persons
      Descartes noted in  The Passion of the Soul  that the term " love "  may be applied to " The Passion of an ambitious man for glory, of a drunkard for wine, of a brutal man for a woman he wants to rape, of a man of honor for his friend or his mistress and of a good father for his children ". Since Descartes  defines love as the will to join oneself to something or someone, he considers all these passion as forms of love. However, he makes one essential distinction.
      The glory seeker, the miser, the drunkard  and the rapist, he says, only seek possession of an object for their own use and pleasure without regard of the good of the object. In this kind of love,even human persons are treated as  mere instruments of use for pleasure. The fried, the lover, and the good father, on the other hand, wish for the good of those they love. In this kind of love, the lover will oftensacrifice his own interests for the sakeof the beloved.
     However,  Descartes  rejects the tradional distinction between "  concupiscent "  and  "  benevolent " love, because he thinks that in actual psychological reality, the two are always interwined. We feel benevolent toward what we wish to be united with and we also desire it., " if  we judge that it is good to possess some way other than through the will ". It would seem then, that the merely instrumental relations are not really love, except in some formal or empty sense.
     The kind of love embodied in the love - mistress relation is sexual or erotic love. Many people regard it as a definitive form odf love, with all other forms of love as metaphors or  sublimations of it.  Others regard it as mere self - satisfaction, and hence, not really love at all. Tolstoy, a notable opponent of the eratic in his later years, called it  " this false feeling that men call love, and which no more resembles love than the life of an animal resembles the life of a man ".
    However, the attempt to reduce sexual love to mere selfish gratification  meets with some difficulty. In the first place,  it is an important element of conjugal love, upon which the family, that model of benevolent union, is founded. Secondly, even on the physical and aesthetic level, mutuality and benevolence are essential for the ideal consummation of sexual love. Thirdly, it is extremely difficult, if not impossible, to separate the physical and the spiritual in such an intimate human relation.
   Something of this inseparability is suggested by the word used in the Bible for the sexual relation. The wprd is " knowing ".  Perhaps this indicates that in this, as in all true love relations, persons come to know one another in their fullness and uniqueness.  And in so doing they may also come to know themselves. Many persons first realize their own essence and worth in lovong and being loved by another person.
   Cynics and pundits call such personal knowledge in erotic love " idealization "  or " over - valuation " of the love object. But perhaps what they call " idealization "  is simply realization of what exists potentially in the beloved person and is first actualized in love. This will be true also on the external level of physical beauty. That the homely face of a person we love appears beautiful to us is a common human experience.
    An instance of this is provided in the recent novel,  A New Life,  by Bernard Malamud,  in which the hero falls in love with a woman who is  almost completely  regarded as essential to feminine charm. Yet he comes to find her flat - chestedness beautiful and right, for it is an attribute of a woman he love.
the marital state...
     Ancient and primitive man regarded marriage, like birth and death, as one of the  decisive moments  in human life. It was accordingly attended by the most solemn religious ceremonies, to mark the crucial " jump " that is involved in the transition from the single to the wedding state. Through solemnly sanctioned marriage, the individual was empowered to create the small community of the family and thus, to join  actively in maintaining the great community of the race.
    We would like to think that we are more matter - of - fact about marriage, and not affected by any sense of awe at the supposed prospect of "  a new life ".  But the figure of the nervous and apprehensive bridegroom still seems to be with us, and our jokes about weddings and about marriage in general may indicate something of our own anxious awareness of the potent change involved. Perhaps marriage, like adolescence, can be made into something automatic in modern society, but human nature may prove to be  refractory to such a transformation.
    In the revered beginnings of our own religious tradition, the union of man and woman is held to be essential to the attainment of the full humanity as well as to the continuance of the human race.." Male and Female created he them; and blessed them, and called their name Adam ( Man ), in the day when they were created. " The association of this basic idea with the precept to increase and multiply was tradionally understood to imply a divine command to marriage - God first commandment to man.
   In the ancient Judaism, not to be married was considered abnormal and wrong..." An unmarried man is not a man in the full sense "..says the Talmud. A similar attitude was prevalent in ancient Greece and Rome, where remaining unmarried was considered  an impious affront  to the family Gods. Moreover, celibacy seemend to have been forbidden by law or subject of certain penalties in ancient  Rome, in  Sparta and other Greek city - states. The ancient attitude  was that the individual has no right to halt the transmission of the family and racial life that has been handled on to him.
   It is hard for us today to grasp this collective or communal attitude towards marriage. We tend to think of it almost wholly in terms of individual choice, preference and decision, as a personal agreement between individuals rather than as solemn event involving the whole community. And, above all, we assocciate it with romantic love, agreement withthe popular song that .." love and marriage go together like a horse and carriage ".
   That romantique love should normally be fullfilled within the marriage relation is a comparatively recent edea in  Western Society, one which has flamed into popularity only within the  past centuries. Certainly it would have astonished the ancients who either did not make such satisfaction a central concern of their lives, or sought it outside of marriage.
   Hegel, a German philosopher  who dealt with all things systematically, has provided us with a systemic view of love and marriage. According to this, the natural union of male and female to carry on the race attains the ethical quality  of marriage when it is based on the free consent of the two parties and culminates.." in the love, trust and common sharing in their entire existence as individuals ". But marriage involves something far wider than individual fullfillment, for  it is the first step in the making of the family, the primary form of the human community, that is ultimately fullfilled in the great society of the state. Hegel  associates the substantial ethical bond of marriage with what he calls..." ethici - legal love " as opposed to the merely subjective feeling, desire, or interest which we often call.." love ". Therefore he considers the formal wedding ceremony, an indispensable element of a real marriage, as a necessary sanction, not as superflous formality.

Orange Lily

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                                             March 29 2010 ...The nature of a profession ( the world of the man )