Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Love versus Passion

But if the sense of touch whereby mankind is propagated seem such dear delight beyond all other,
think the same voutsaf’t To Cattel and each Beast;
which would not be to them made common & divulg’d,
if aught therein enjoy’d were worthy to subdue the Soule of Man, or passion in him move.
What higher in her societie thou findst attractive, human, rational, love still;
In loving thou dost well, in passion not, wherein true Love consists not;
Love refines the thoughts, and heart enlarges, hath his seat in Reason, and is judicious,
is the scale by which to heav’nly Love thou maist ascend,
Not sunk in carnal pleasure,
for which cause among the Beasts no Mate for thee was found.

(John Milton, Paradise Lost, Book vii)

Apology: I edited the paragraph to align by punctuation. Makes for easier reading than the original.

Here John Milton argues that love is superior to carnal lust ("passion") because mankind has great capacity for reason and emotion than the animals, hence a greater scope for the exercise of love. All other animals can partake of carnal relations but for man to settle for that baseline is to sell himself short. It's quite relevant in this age of overhyped melodramatic romance (also "passion") which is really only confusion in a nice dress. The passage actually tells men to love the aspects of their better halves that are attractive, human, rational, but not to abandon the reins of judgment to "passion." Sound advice?

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