“There is always some madness in love, there is also always some reason in madness.” -Friedrich Nietzsche
Idealism might enlighten our path providing us with the ideal characteristic of every concept but it is realism which challenges us with the fact that it is not always possible to achieve the ideal characteristics at all. Realism always enlightens us with the harsh truth of reality, it brings us all face to face with the ugliest of truths, the truth that we all deny to comfort ourselves. It forces us to examine the bitter truth of even the sweetest thing we can ever come across; “Love”! We all are in the pursuit of true love by deciphering the myths of it but there is multidimensionality to this answer. We talked about idealism and it is now time for us to examine realism in the concept of “Erotic Love”.
One of the pioneers of “Realism” is Friedrich Nietzsche who earned his reputation for being a champion of “Nihilism” and a critique to “Idealism”. In his theories, he constantly raised philosophical concerns about idiosyncratic characteristic of every concept including “Love”. He always adhered to a provocative style which focuses on making the readers feel uncomfortable about presumed values and assumptions inherited by them from the social and cultural drives. Nietzsche always had a tendency to question and examine every aspect of life in a critical way.
In his theory of “Erotic or Sexual love” (which could be seen in the aphorisms of “The gay science”), he tends to focus on the basic, vulgar and selfish qualities of erotic love. He questions the presumed values of the readers in which “Love” is always given a privileged status and demonstrates that the things we conceive about love tends to be the opposites. According to him, “Egoism” and “Greed” are inextricably bound to the expression of love. Nietzsche even asserts that there’s no romantic element to the concept of erotic love but it is just the other expression for egoism.
In his aphorisms, he explains love’s proximity to “Greed” or “Lust for possession” while completely denying the consideration of moral good in the presumed concept of love. He tries to establish a relation between the feeling of love and an instinctual force. Nietzsche considers love to be an instinct which is related to the biological and cultural drives and has nothing to do with morality. Socialisation of these biological and cultural drives always results in psychological suffering and prejudices, according to him. So, in a way he tends to ignore the self-deceiving idealism by the exposure of less attractive motivations in the concept of “Love”.
However, Nietzsche neither wants any change in the self serving expressions of love nor any rectification of the most pervasive delusions of love. In his theories, he even accepts that the strong propensities towards the illusions of erotic love are necessary for that love to be successful. He tends to praise the creativity or artistry one adopts while in love but recognises the differentiation of roles of sexes.
One of the most controversial aspects of his theory of love is that, he consider the terms “Greed” and “Love” to be the same instincts with two different names. He asserts that these two experiences are equivalent and is used depending upon the level of satisfaction one has achieved. A satisfied person who feel their possession (the lover) threatened by others would name others’ instincts to be gain or “Greed”, while an unsatisfied one seeking something new to desire would always impose a positive evaluation and would call that instinct to be “Love”. So according to Nietzsche, Erotic love is just the pursuit of possession that has been glorified and defied by those in search of acquiring something to enrich themselves.