Table of Contents
The Main Ideas and Objectives
Solomon claims that love is a “shared identity” (p.193, paragraph 1, line 1). He explains this main idea in the context of the relationship of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet taking place in the modern days. Solomon clarifies that the definition does not mean that individuality is lost because the personal identity acquires a new meaning for each spouse (p. 193, paragraph 1, the sixth line from the bottom). The author’s primary objective is to stress the fallacy of the explanation of what romantic love means indeed. Solomon claims that people are afraid to explore love and its consequences (p. 192, paragraph 1, line 8). Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet only experienced a single glimpse of genuine love (p. 192, paragraph 1, line 6). Unfortunately, the readers stopped with them and transmitted their tragedy into the model of romantic love (p. 192, paragraph 1, line 10). Solomon mentions that people should not follow the heroes, but they are supposed to look further to define and to experience that genuine love (p. 192, paragraph 1, line 12).
Citations of the Main Ideas
The moment Romeo and Juliet fell in love not only created new identities but also redefined their lives (p. 192, top, line 1). The lovers also gave new meanings to their obligations whereby, now, they only referred to one another (p. 192, top, line 4). The spouses “grew” into each other so much so that their souls became intertwined and inseparable (p. 192, top, line 9). Because Romeo and Juliet define each other, their individual and detached existence is no longer possible (p. 192, paragraph 1, line 2). They are now only “Romeo and Juliet” because their self is shared (p. 192, paragraph 2, lines 7 and 10). Although they require time to establish boundaries and identify the areas of privacy, the impulse to become closer to each other overrides misunderstandings, disagreements, and occasional fights (p. 193, paragraph 1, lines 4-8). Romeo and Juliet begin sharing not only their bodies but also the minds of each other (p. 193, paragraph 1, line 9). In fact, the couple’s desire to be in the company of each other is natural (p. 193, paragraph 1, line 20). When they make grave decisions or share their thoughts, they need to be listened to by one another (p. 193, paragraph 1, line 20). Thus, sexuality is not merely a personal desire but rather a perception of physical incompleteness (p. 195, paragraph 1, line 23).
Solomon also introduces the identity theory of love that defines that love can last only through the concept of self (p. 194, paragraph 1, line 1). The underlying factor of love that makes it durable is a set of concrete and well-defined ideas and perceptions of the world, the partner, and oneself (p. 194, paragraph 1, line 13). The identity theory also attempts to define the purpose of love asserting that it is a new personality shared with another person (p. 196, paragraph 1, lines 2-4). Solomon argues that romantic love is always tightly lined with self-esteem and sexual desire (p. 196, paragraph 1, lines 7-9). This dramatic combination of these components ensures the sense of self-identity (p. 196, paragraph 1, lines 11-12). The author also refers to the concept of “the paradox of love” that suggests an ongoing tension between individuality and union (p. 198, lines 25-26). Solomon states that merging must be accurately balanced because two individuals striving for the shared identity are still different (p. 198, lines 1-3). Therefore, this new identity is only half of the story (p. 198, line 14). The concept of individuality is also significant in the conceptuality of love (p. 198, lines 21-24). The author explains that self-esteem is also essential to the identification of the self in the society (p. 199, paragraph 2, lines 1-2). He states that today, “the contemporary self is notoriously underdetermined” (p. 199, paragraph 2, lines 7-9).
Solomon calls sex the definition of the self expressed by the body (p. 206, paragraph 1, lines 14-15). The pleasure of sex equals the joy of self (p. 211, top line 1). Denial of sex diminishes and undermines genuine love and its essential part (p. 213, paragraph 1, lines 15-17).
Explanations of the Main Ideas by Various People
In Symposium, Aristophanes defines love as an effort of one person to create a sense of completion by joining the body and soul with another individual (p. 194, paragraph 1, line 18). According to this fact, he supports the main idea of Solomon. The playwright also claims that love is an attempt to find a person who can provide a sense of a “true” self (p. 195, top, line 5). He also insists that the definition of love is not limited to desire and companionship (p. 195, paragraph 1, line 2). Instead, it is a desperation to retrieve something that already belongs to a person but appears to be very elusive (p. 195, paragraph 1, line 3-5). Solomon agrees with Plato who calls love a “redefinition of oneself in terms of goodness (p. 206, paragraph 1, lines 1-2). The author believes that love means self-transformation (p. 206, paragraph 1, lines 6-9). Solomon’s claim about sex as the definition of the shared identity is supported with the works of many philosophers from Plato to Schopenhauer. They all believe that sex reveals the purpose of both an individual and the whole culture (p. 210, paragraph 1, lines 1-5).
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Comparison and Contrast of the Main Ideas Expressed by Various People
In Symposium, Socrates holds a classic idea of love that is significantly different from Aristophanes’ point explained earlier. Socrates claims that the genuine meaning of love is an attachment to abstract universals (p. 195, paragraph 1, line 5-7). However, Aristophanes insists that love is and always should be detailed as one individual is, in essence, somebody else’s half (p. 195, paragraph 1, line 9-10). Socrates also promotes the idea of self-sufficiency of a person (p. 195, paragraph 1, line 6). Aristophanes argues against such notion claiming that no individual can be completely alone (p. 195, paragraph 1, line 9). Socrates also believes that genuine love does not relate to the sexual union because it is ethereal and, therefore, ideal (p. 195, paragraph 1, lines 11-13). However, Aristophanes asserts that, because people are physical beings, sexual union is essential and inescapable (p. 195, paragraph 1, lines 13-16). The concept of “merging” or “fusion” of two individuals into one shared identity advocated by Solomon is present in most of the love literature written in the late Middle Ages (p. 196, paragraph 2, lines 1-4). Such post-Freudian philosophers as Willard Gaylin and Erich Fromm also support the image of unity as the means of establishment of self-identity (p. 196, paragraph 2, lines 4-6). Solomon agrees with Irving Singer who, in his study The Nature of Love, concludes that the idealistic concept of “union” neglects the element of individuality that plays a significant role in the formation of love (p. 198, lines 21-24). Sigmund Freud argues that sex is the ultimate passion that drives the humanity (p. 199, paragraph 1, lines 1-2). However, Ernest Becker disagrees with the philosopher and claims that self-esteem is the driving force for love (p. 199, paragraph 1, lines 2-3). Solomon opposes Jean-Paul Sartre’s “existentialist” view on the self as an individual’s responsibility (p. 201, paragraph 2, lines 1-4). He also contends Jean-Jacques Rousseau’s interpretation of self which is very similar to Sartre’s (p. 201, paragraph 2, lines 9-12).
The Context of Thoughts or Events
The author skillfully and effortlessly defends his position expressed in the beginning of the chapter. The context of the relationship of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet is an excellent example to open such a complicated subject (p.193, paragraph 1, line 9). Solomon proves his point of “self-actualization” in love and through it (p.193, paragraph 1, line 10-13).
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