Tuesday, 8 March 2011

ἀπορία (Aporia)

‘The owl of Minerva spreads its wings only with the falling of dusk’
 – Hegel

Consider this: we exist on the horizon of reality.  The sun sets on history, and we live always at the tail of it.  We are unable to re-live that ever-increasing day which constructs our current being, we are restrained to merely tracing over the line and considering how we got here and where we went wrong.  Can we ever detach ourselves from that line and start a new one? Or does the human memory bind us to what has been and gone for as long as memory lives?

I am only 20.  I feel I should omit the word ‘only’ as it would seem that I have been on a greater journey than most people my age.  However I know that the mathematical proportion of my past compared to my future proves that there is much more to come.  I’m sure I will read this in another 20 years and agree…

I don’t remember much of my childhood, my teens were rough, my parents divorced and I was kicked out at the age of 16 to find my own way.  During a period of severe depression and insomnia, I experienced what most would call a ‘religious experience’ at the age of 15, which literally saved my life.  I gave my life to Jesus two years later.  I would say I’ve been in two serious relationships in my life; the first wrecked me, the second made me aware of how wrecked I really was.  All these things make me who I am.  But each new dawn, and each new struggle that comes with it, is made heavier by the things that I carry from my experiences.  Not only does it effect times of struggle, but it dominates my thinking, my philosophical contemplations and my search for truth. 

As human beings, it is in our nature to ask questions.  To live is to search for truth.  Even the seemingly naive search for it, focusing on the truth of the self, testing their identity with the activities they partake in and the people they relate to, in an attempt to know oneself.  One truth that seems to dominate over all others is that of love and all its subheadings.  What is friendship, compassion, communication, trust?  What do they mean to us?  This is certainly something that has been central to my life; my years spent searching for security, acceptance, affection.  My two major relationships provided a drastic dualism upon which I have tried to base my philosophy of love, as well as the masses of second hand experience that back it up.  A search that I have ached with all along that line of history, can I finally spread my wings with ‘the falling of dusk’?

“…take the case of a lover who has been unhappy in love, and suppose that the way he yields to his passions is really unreasonable, impious, and unchristian.  In case you cannot begin with him in such a way that he finds genuine relief in talking to you about his suffering and is able to enrich his mind with poetical interpretations you suggest for it, notwithstanding you have no share in this passion and want to free him from it - if you cannot do that, then you cannot help him at all; he shuts himself away from you, he retires within himself…”

- Kierkegaard

I believe that God is love.  Therefore God is the definition of love, the one knowing love in its entirety.  I also believe that God is unreachable in terms of us gaining understanding of Him.  This notion, in concurrence with my aporia, brings me to the conclusion that I will never know love.  I have come into wisdom, in the sense that I admit that I do not know anything.  As Kierkegaard puts it: “Truth is subjectivity”.  There remains hypocrisy in that I cannot but help longing for the search to go on, despite my accepting that the search would be an eternal process leading to no possible conclusion.  I am only human after all, and as I said before, that is what we do, we live to search for truth.  Perhaps some day I will find a new love that will spark a revision of this philosophy, perhaps one day I’ll be put into the situation whereupon I should have ‘the marriage talk’.  How do we really know we’re in love, when we cannot know what love is in its entirety?  That question can be asked day after day for months, even years, and it can never be answered.  Unlike a relationship with God (for which we have reassurance or ‘proof’ from the Holy Spirit), we must take a blind leap of faith based on what we think we know about love.  The search brings no gain, so now I retire within myself.  And that, for now, is my horizon.

“If you marry, you will regret it; if you do not marry, you will also regret it… Laugh at the world’s follies, you will regret it; weep over them you will also regret that… Hang yourself, you will regret it; do not hang yourself, and you will also regret that; hang yourself or do not hang yourself, you will regret both… This gentlemen, is the sum and substance of all philosophy”.

- Kierkegaard


  1. Loved reading that :-) amazing philosophical thought!
    Some might say we can never know love because if God is love, which I believe He is, then we can never really understand that... do words mean the same when applied to God as they do when applied to human beings? This is the only way we could understand it but we are using language univocally, thus bringing God down to a human level. If we use language equivocally then there is also a problem...If we say that God is love, it means something completely different to what it means when we apply it to a person or object so we can never know what a word means when it is applied to God.

    Loved your post :-)
    Georgina :)

  2. I think we can find love, but that love has many different meanings. God is love, and we search to know Him and His love, that is/should be our goal in life, but at the same time we can find a different kind of love with people and just because that isn't the same as our idea of love with God or even our idea of love with different humans doesn't mean it isn't love.
    Also I don't think we can cut ourselves a new line and start again, but we have it within our control to start going in a different direction and let ourselves control what memories we leave behind rather than letting our memories control our actions.
    keep it up :) x

  3. Loads of great points to really think about. :)

    Keep them coming. xx

  4. Great comment Georgina!

    I love your thought regarding language. Can we really confine the thing that is love to a word? We do it because that is all as is humanly possible. In naming it so, are we restricting it, when it is really a truth beyond anything that we can confine it to. Perhaps our different perceptions of love are merely small segments of the grander truth that is God himself. We all experience it the same way we would experience an object in a dark room. We can only guess what it is but without the light we cannot know it in its entirety...
    Thanks for commenting :)

  5. As with most concepts, 'love' is a word that in itself has no meaning, it is little more than four letters together in an alphabet which is only one among thousands. Love without relationship means nothing, love means what we make it mean - be it from our own experience, or own perceptions of what is around us, or as is often the case, our ideals and hopes - things themselves often imparted to us by outside sources. A study two years ago by Edinburgh University made a connection between concepts of love and high divorce rates in relation to the increasing number of 'romcoms' watched by people these days in which love is this thing that starts of tough and edgy but then one moment something happens and everything is perfect for ever - some kind of at least 'pseudo-love at first sight'. This is the view imparted to us from the media, from the bedtime stories we grew up with, from our own ideals of what would be perfect.

    Reality is not like this, the Bible itself shows that love is not just a happily ever after in which everything is perfect, at least not in this life (which is the subject of this topic). Kierkegaard is right to say that in things such as this 'truth is subjective' (though I would disagree with him when it comes to things such as core Christian doctrines/truths) the question is how we then formulate our own subjective interpretation, what form the basis for it - and have we set the standard unrealistically high for what we would want to deem 'love' that when what another may consider to be it smacks us clean in the face. Everyday you people experience a thousand events and thoughts each of which in some way will affect their understanding of the thought-concept of 'love' - love is not something that is to be held in a cage of our own making.

    In the immortally wise words of the great Kyo: "Reality is cruel isn't it?" And: "It doesn't take effort to feel emotion" - that is, in this context, love is not something that can be forced it is something that is natural, to philosophise that you will not have it again and then put yourself in that perception-box is not only unnatural but anti-natural.

  6. That was an engrossing read, with interesting philosophy and a rather depressing view of love. Keep going, look forward to your next blog.

  7. Thank you all for your comments! :)

    Adam, just to make it clear, I was not saying that I will not have love again, that is not for me to say. I was simply saying that I will not continue trying to understand what 'love' is, as I believe it is impossible. Besides that you make some great points! That study you mentioned sounds really interesting. The media gives humanity such a false sense of reality. It's tragic...