Whatever love is, professor says it is worth celebrating

Ben Wolford

The nebulous concept of love has thrown philosophers for a loop for thousands of years, and when the figurative archer finally struck Jacqui Tont, she similarly fell at a loss for words.

“It was some stupid thing that he said,” said Tont, a junior visual communication design major. “It probably wouldn’t make sense to anyone else, but for me it meant something.”

What Tont recalled seeing in her boyfriend is what philosophy professor Jeffrey Wattles refers to as the “illumined masterpiece” and the recognition of the beautiful uniqueness of another.

“When we really glimpse, and so to speak see that unique, constant, mysterious, illumined masterpiece of that other person’s personality, it just is so wonderful,” Wattles said.

But this explanation only covers one type of love. Ideas such as puppy love, Christian love and sexual love all tend to boggle the already ambiguous term.

Wattles points to the Christian philosopher Thomas Aquinas, who employed a variety of words for love that each had a specific meaning. But Wattles said that variety of words has disappeared.

“We’ve lost a bit of the vocabulary to express these nuances in specific ways,” he said. “Therefore our thinking is perhaps more confused for that reason.”

Tont agrees. She said it seems people toss the term too freely.

“I think a lot of people don’t know what love is,” she said.

In spite of the confusion, Wattles embraces all the gradations of love people encounter.

“I believe that we’re a culture in process,” he said. “I think that in some sense, we’re still evolving. And I think that all the meanings we have mentioned are a part of life.”

As far as Valentine’s Day is concerned, Wattles puts superficialities aside and wonders what’s wrong with celebrating something for its own sake. He used birthdays as an example.

“I particularly enjoy birthday celebrations,” Wattles said. “It’s not because you’ve achieved anything . and I believe in celebrating great achievements, too, but I also believe in celebrating just the fact that you are.”

So whatever love is, it exists, and as Wattles said, it’s worth celebrating.

– Ben Wolford