Fondazione Zoé

How many meanings can have in common usage the word ” love ” ?

We all describe affections as something “concrete”. However, the subject of this short paper is rather complex and vague. To clear up any misunderstanding in the reference literature (affections intended as passions, passions as emotions, emotions as feelings, feelings as impressions, and so on) let us focus on etymology: affection comes from “afficio” (which means “to impress”, “to affect”.) The “affectus” person is “affected” by something both in his/her body and soul. And then, above all, affection refers to a passive state.
However, there is no passive without the active, i.e. its contrary, since the the affection is inevitably followed by a reaction. What strikes us is still for us. Generally, every relationship with a living being necessarily takes the form of an agreement. Who lives somehow knows or feels. At least, in this sense, he/she co-ncurrs and co-rresponds. This is the beginning of a series of apparent synonyms for “affection” (i.e. “emotion”, or “feeling”.) But these synonyms are only apparent: in fact, these indications refer to the second side of the relationship with the living being – the active one – namely they recall its corresponding element, through a movement towards or away from it (ex-moveo.) Therefore, “passion” and “emotion” are two meanings acting as the two sides of the same existence phenomenon. This is precisely the first interpretation of affectivity, which is intended as the reaction to something that moves towards us and moves us.

Now let us focus on a substantial assumption: the world of emotions or affections (for convenience, we can consider these two terms as equivalent, based on the previous suggestion) cannot benefit from the corresponding bodily part to find order. The body finds its order (in any way and with any purpose, as already explained) through the looks of the others, which may embrace it in its whole space. And, again, it may find order through our own looks, which repeat the same process in front of a mirror. Conversely, the world of emotions can be embraced neither by an external look nor, in some way, by an internal one. The onset of an emotion, in fact, involves the whole consciousness. This is one of our basic experiences. If we are sad, we are totally sad, there is no compromise.

The same thing happens when we are happy. Therefore it is hard to objectify the peculiarities of an emotion. However, it is easy to understand that this “objectification” is absolutely required to rule over the world of emotions Paradoxical though it may seem at first sight, the world of emotions cannot forge any bond. Among human beings, an emotional totalization can only follow a previous one, but cannot be “linked” to the other one; to do so, it should first leave the totalisation sphere. In fact, two totalisations are always and inevitably incompatible. This may explain the growing serial forms of affectivity, as well as the so-called “stories.” Some say: “I had a love story”, when they are talking about a relationship. The young often boast several “stories” (sometimes with a disarming carelessness …)

The totalisation carried out by the world of emotions implies that the latter is inhabited by the rational part of our soul. Or rather, it is filled with it. The totality, in fact, is basically the intrinsic horizon of the soul of human beings. In other words: human beings are fully open to the world and therefore want to enjoy the totality of things; however, at the same time, they tend to totalize all the things as soon as they deal with them. Well, the world of emotions is somehow inhabited by this horizon, even if it is not precisely this horizon. It is worth stressing this assumption. After all, the difference seems even clearer if we consider animals, who feel affections, but do not look at the totality of the world (in a narrow sense): they just focus on some things. Dogs only know the “way home” (including any variation), but are not able to regard roads as universal; therefore, they do not design any road, do not develop any plan to walk along them with infinite destinations.




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