Love. Demystified. Not De-beautified.
I am utterly confident neuroscience will unravel love in the near future. Not that they are not doing it ALREADY. Studies have pried open many aspects of love and romance – dismantling its neurology and chemistry elements. Now people have heard of various chemicals involved behind this love phenomenon: from dopamine, serotonin, to oxytocin– currently dubbed as “hormone of love” (check out Paul Zak’s presentation on Oxytocin the Trust & Morality Molecule)
Love is no longer the domain of philosopher, or poet, or songwriters. Make way for the new cool of badass: the neuroscientists.
Now, most people would probably resist the idea of love being explained. Some people think if something is so beautiful, then it cannot be explained. History of science has proven this wrong. Many natural phenomenon which used to be a beautiful mystery has been explained: from aurora borealis at the North Pole, to simple rainbow, to altruism. Just because something is beautiful and amazing does not necessarily it should not, or can not, be explained.
But let’s say we accept the premise that love is just a biological, and hence completely explicable, phenomenon. Would it make it no longer magical? If love has been laid bare, down to every chemical, neuron, axons, and hormone involved, will we turn it into a subject as cold and uninteresting as pimples? (By the way, acne and pimples actually make INTERESTING subject once you get into their biological explanation.. :D)
My answer is a simple & straightforward: NO. Understanding a phenomenon completely has nothing to do with its wonder, awe, and magic. For example:
Great paintings. You can explain and understand its origin, its influence, its style, the artist’s motive, the choice of color, the brushstroke technique, etc. Yet with all these knowledge, you can still be at awe with Van Gogh’s Starry Night, or Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel. Ditto with great classical music. You have the music notes, you know the story behind the piece, you know all the instruments used, you can even explain the conductor’s style – yet upon hearing the music, your neck hair still stands up and you get goosebumps.
The example does not have to be great piece of arts. Think of a very sexy sport car. You can explain the engine to its smallest bolt, but the exhilaration (and women’s admiration) of speeding though highway (obviously not in Jakarta) is nothing short of amazing.
So I am not afraid that love will lose its magic once it has been broken down to its smallest components and all its intricacies are explained. Take romantic love. The flutter in your stomach when you see her face, the erratic heartbeat when he smiles at you, the frustrating wait for her reply on SMS or BBM – all those stupid things that happen to people in love can be explained, and yet the feeling and excitement will be no less thrilling. A mother’s love to her children is still noble and beautiful, and forever inspires writers and poet, even if it is chemically induced.
This is why I love reading about science. To me, the explanation does not diminish the wonders of Life. If anything, it only adds to them 🙂
Categories: Random Insight