And Mind Melding Is What Makes Us Possible.

The question has long been asked: what is love, where does it come from? But the real question is: what is man, where does it come from? And the answer is love.

I do not allude here to the silly confusion between love and sex called, rather pathetically, “making love”. At best, it has to do with the amplification oxytocin provides with, and it’s a sideshow; fishes do it.

Love in full is parental love, mammalian style.  

That does involve oxytocin (and vasopressin), sure. But love, in advanced species, goes well beyond chemistry, or biology. It involves intelligence, logic itself. The chemical intervenes just to amplify, and stabilize, the logical. And it is pretty obvious why.

Homo Sapiens Sapiens is the official name of the species. Sapiens Sapiens: Wise Wise. Where does all that wisdom comes from? Love. Facts are mostly learned. Logic is learned, like anything else. Wisdom is learned, even more than anything else.

And how was most of this learning achieved? From others, and for others. What motivated the teachers, the parents? Love. What mostly motivated those who learned? Love.

What one learns depends upon one’s environment. Famous experiences from  the 1970s have shown that kittens brought up in an unnatural visual environment do not see properly. Their visual neurons are abnormal. Kittens reared in a world of vertical lines do not have any neuron responding to anything within 30 degrees of the horizontal. (They need 5 months in a normal environment to start to see what is horizontal!)

In other words, neurobiology is made from what’s out there (the idea is at least as old as Ramon y Cajal, the Spanish discoverer of neurons, a century ago).

This generalizes to many mental behaviors, and much mental infrastructure. True, one can learn logic, octopus style, by making little experiments at the bottom of the sea. But that carries only that far.

Interacting with the material world does not teach high level Machiavellianism, the gist of social intelligence. And indeed, although cephalopods are intelligent, they have not developed high social intelligence as, say, whales or primates. (Although cephalopods are very social, their lives are very short, they just don’t have the time to be taught by fellow cephalopods; an aspect of the connection between longevity and wisdom; so their brain/body mass ratio is between cold and warm blooded animals; it’s also probably why their brains did not grow much in the last 400 million years, whereas warm blooded social animals are launched in a brain size race).

To see with one’s heart, to have a heart that can see, one needs to be exposed to all the emotional lines imaginable. Otherwise, just as neurons reading horizontal lines do not appear in a world of vertical lines, so will it be with emotions, or other stimuli. Presenting a growing mind with a mutilated world fabricates a mutilated neurobiology.

The mutilated world can be physically mutilated, as with the cats with an amputated visual environment. But if the mental environment is emotionally, logically or experientally mutilated, it’s the same, and it’s worse in humans. For example the chidren of abused people tend to become themselves abusers.

One thing man did when selecting dogs was to evolve animals who are eager to find out the cues that human eyes indicate. In other words, animals eager to meld minds. This is reinforced by an expectation of love, which is necessary as most wild animals interpret direct eye contact as proximal to attack.

High social intelligence is taught by love, for love, through love. High social intelligence makes very complex, caring societies possible. But not just that. It makes technology and science possible.

How? High social intelligence involves Machiavellian Intelligence. Machiavellian Intelligence is, basically, and in its most general sense, the ability to compute with love (real, fake, suspected, or suspicious).

Machiavellian intelligence rests upon, and demonstrates, all day long, that infinitesimal causes, properly piled up, can have enormous effects. This is the hint, the motivation, the inspiration, that entices to create logic, science and technology, thus the human universe, possible. Man without logic, science and technology is nothing. Man simply cannot even survive in nature without technology, ever since stone weapons have been wielded.

I claim that Homo’s social subtlety was the paradigm for science.

Indeed, that infinitesimal causes, properly piled up, can have enormous effects, is the gist of infinitesimal and integral calculus, and the principle on which experimental and theoretical sciences rest: from the apparently neglectable, experimentally or logically, the essence springs forth. (An example is that if one contradiction arises in a logical system, the whole thing is invalidated.)

What we call love is the sensation we experience when our mind is working properly, that is, socially enough to learn most of what it knows from society (as it is congenitally programmed to do).

Love is about mind melding. Love is what makes mind melding possible. Culture is one aspect of mind melding. So is one’s entire emotional system.

To say that love brings the oxytocin up, explains how attachment is amplified, but it does not explain why attachment happens.

Attachment happens, and it is so strong, because minds are mostly programmed by the environment provided to them. OK, in the case of cephalopods the sea itself can provide much. In the case of social insects, a few simple behaviors are easily produced.

But advanced brainy animals have much more sophisticated behaviors. And only that very sophisticated environment called love can provide it.

Our brains have reward centers all over. My guess is that they are set-up so that enriching input from another mind is most appreciated, once basic physiological needs are satisfied.

Without love we would be nothing much. We would not even know how to see or think in a human way. And certainly we would not know how to feel correctly. Most of these behaviors are learned… from the loving environment provided by caregivers. And they are socially learned, and they can only be socially learned because our care givers were motivated to do their job well, by that particular organization of neurobiology found in advanced brains that we call love.

Thus there is symmetry breaking between the Good Lord and the Dark Side. The Good Lord, Love, makes us possible. Love is our ground state (to use the Quantum analogy). The Dark Side is just something that is sometimes necessary.

Hence a polity should not rest too much on the Dark Side: it’s not our creator. This is the fundamental reason that makes plutocratic or cannibalistic societies so little creative that they always meet an ominous fate, in short order. And also why they contributed so little to civilization.

This philosophical observation has a strong bearing on politics. It means that society has to be built on love first, not profit, or an ill defined “market”. It means that the economic set-ups based on exploitation strategies (that brought us Anglo-Saxon empires and Russia) are suspect.

This is something the Roman Republic, tough as nail, had understood perfectly well. It was built mostly defensively, around the idea that the simplest version of love inside the Republic was the ground state. They called it the law. And thus endures the Roman Republic to this day, at least in the spirit of our laws.

It also means that any other sentient species, long ago, in a galaxy far away, would also have been built first, out of love… At least for itself. Culture is impossible without a cultivator. And why to cultivate minds, if not out of love?

We love, we have been loved, therefore we think.


Patrice Ayme

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10 Responses to “NO LOVE, NO MIND”

  1. Roger Henry Says:

    It is good to remember that the opposite of Love is not hate. Both require emotional interaction and regard.
    The opposite of Love is indifference. Indifference means no emotional regard between subjects and is the essence of the absence of Love.
    Indifference and ignorance are brothers.


    • Patrice Ayme Says:

      Dear Roger: You make an excellent point. And indeed it corresponds to the symmetry breaking between Love and the (vast) “Dark Side” I alluded to. The “Dark Side” is less important, because it is not our creator.

      Now the opposite of love is, indeed, indifference. And, indeed, those capable of indifference to others are, fundamentally, prone to ignorance.
      This has practical consequences. First indifference and ignorance ought to be integrated prominently to the “Dark Side”, and not just be viewed as innocent bystanders. All the more since…

      Nowadays, there are laws against hatred (“hate crimes“). They are a consequence of thinking deeply about what brought Nazism (the Nuremberg trial played a crucial role there; as Hermann Goering pointed out, “they have ruined everything with that movie”: the argument against hatred was reduced to showing an extermination camp movie).

      The murderous racial hatred in Nazism was allowed to thrive and grow, because of a form of tolerance. Tolerance, indifference to colossal hatred against the Jews, which came from respect for idiotic creeps such as Luther, Saint Louis and Saint Augustine. Tolerance, indifference to hatred, for 16 centuries (from 320 CE, say, to 1945 CE).

      These anti-hatred laws are excellent, and should go further. But, they are not enough. As you point out, the Dark Side rests heavily on the opposites of love, indifference and ignorance. An excellent example is the Immoral CO2 curve.

      It’s quite a bit like the position average Germans had under Nazism, or more exactly the question average Germans refused to ask, and OUGHT to have asked: let’s suppose the worst happens, what would that be, if we keep on supporting the Nazis?

      Contemporary Germans have learned that meta lesson, and this is why Germany has made tremendously successful efforts towards sustainable energy (although Merkel has been deviating recently in her panic). However the USA citizens have not integrated that meta principle. And thus have led the effort against reducing CO2 reduction (although Obama has, somewhat subterreaneously done a few things). They have been indifferent to what could happen, ignorant of the situation, and its probable consequences…


    • Martin Lack Says:

      “The opposite of love is not hate, but indifference”… is, at best, a questionable assertion.

      I think the opposite of love is most certainly hate; whereas the opposite of indifference is infatuation. Discuss?


      • Patrice Ayme Says:

        Dear Martin: I think it was discussed below, and I am going to come up with a dialogue between Jesus and Tyranosopher that will help clear things up.

        What Roger Henry was saying precedingly was that hate, like love, requires high emotion. Passion, like in the “passion of Christ”. So love and hate have something in common, they share. Love and indifference share nothing.

        Here is an example that may appeal to you. Better a screaming CO2 denier than someone who really could care less whether you are blowing with the wind, or not. The denier can see some of his logic denied. The one who really does not give a hoot whether everything explodes or not, there is the worst enemy.

        By the way I noticed Paul’s silence on the subject. I guess dogs are never indifferent (differently from cats).


  2. Paul Handover Says:

    For what it’s worth, I would support the notion that the opposite of love is indifference, in other words a lack of care. At a personal level the ultimate rejection of another is not to care about them.


  3. Paul Handover Says:

    Where is your Tyranosopher site?

    But to the meat of this essay.

    I have read it several times and for reasons that partially escape me, I can’t engage with your words as I so frequently do. It’s not that I disagree with your premise, it’s more to do with my sensing that love can not be just about intellect.

    So I won’t blather on any more, just leave it at that. Mind you, I would be curious to hear from more of your regular followers to see if they have any idea where I am coming from!


    • Patrice Ayme Says:

      Dear Paul: Ha ha ha, I got (verbal) complaints too, but poorly defined, too. I sensed some irritation. So I will be interested by more feedback, too. But some of the great minds who grace this site are silent, so far… I want to learn from debate too. And the essay arose from the corresponding essay on your site (which did not tell us where love came from, so I stepped in… I have suggested that idea in the past).
      Notice that I never claimed that love arose only from “intellect”. “Mind” is more general than “intellect”. Surely, love comes from the mind, not just the olfactory bulb…
      Tyranosopher is out there, but I am more interested in debate now, as the front of thinking moves like a super nova shock wave…


    • Patrice Ayme Says:

      If love is necessary to have a mind, then species with minds have love. That was implicit in the sci fi conclusion of the essay…


  4. Nathan Daniel Curry Says:

    Humanism’s core.


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