Sunday, January 30, 2011

Varieties of Love in Marriage

In a posting titled Darwinian Marriage (2): A Response to Robert George, Larry Arnhart argues that

While Darwinian evolutionary science shows the ultimate causes of marriage, the modern neuroscience of human psychology shows the proximate causes of marriage as rooted in at least four kinds of love--sexual lust, sexual romance, sexual attachment, and parental love.

Sexual lust is an indiscriminate drive for sexual arousal that seems to be connected with testosterone and other neurohormonal mechanisms. Sexual romance is a discriminate drive for sexual interest in some special person, and this seems to be connected with dopamine and perhaps serotonin. Sexual attachment is an enduring bond between husband and wife that ties them together even when the lust and romance has faded, and this seems to be connected to oxytocin and vasopressin. Finally, parental love is the attachment to children that seems to be reinforced by various neurohormonal mechanisms.
Are these the only kinds? What implications might these divisions have on literary analysis? How do these forms of love play themselves out in conflicts in literature? These divisions seem like they would be fruitful for the analysis of perhaps most literature. (What, after all, is literature about except sex and violence?)

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