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General Psychology 100 book

What Oscar Wilde has to do with Hippocrates and the neurochemistry of romance.

By Maria Popova

It’s often said that every song, every poem, every novel, every painting ever created is in some way “about” love. What this really means is that love is a central theme, an underlying preoccupation, in humanity’s greatest works. But what exactly is love? How does its mechanism spur such poeticism, and how does it lodge itself in our minds, hearts and souls so completely, so stubbornly, as to permeate every aspect of the human imagination? Today, we turn to 5 essential books that are “about” love in a different way — they turn an inquisitive lens towards this grand phenomenon and try to understand where it comes from, how it works, and what it means for the human condition.

ESSAYS IN LOVE

No superlative is an exaggeration of Alain de Botton‘s humble brilliance spanning everything from philosophy to architecture. Essays in Love is precisely the kind of thoughtful, poetic, highly intelligent tome De Botton has grown famous for. Part novel, part philosophical inquiry into the origin and machinery of romantic love, the book follows the story of a love affair, tracing each stage — from the initial dopamine-driven lovesickness to the despair of love’s demise — through a beautiful blend of intellectual analysis and deeply human felt emotion. In De Botton’s classic style of networked knowledge, the narrative is sprinkled with references to and quotes from the major Western philosophers, yet equally reflective of his signature style of absorbing, highly readable narrative.

Every fall into love involves [to adapt Oscar Wilde] the triumph of hope over self-knowledge. We fall in love hoping that we will not find in the other what we know is in ourselves – all the cowardice, weakness, laziness, dishonesty, compromise and brute stupidity. We throw a cordon of love around the chosen one, and decide that everything that lies within it will somehow be free of our faults and hence lovable. We locate inside another a perfection that eludes us within ourselves, and through union with the beloved, hope somehow to maintain [against evidence of all self-knowledge] a precarious faith in the species.”



The Happiness Project: Or, Why I Spent a Year Trying to Sing in the Morning, Clean My Closets, Fight Right, Read Aristotle, and Generally Have More Fun
Book (Harper Paperbacks)
  • Great product!
The Happiness Project: Or, Why I Spent a Year Trying to Sing in the Morning, Clean My Closets, Fight Right, Read Aristotle, and Generally Have More Fun
Book (Harper Paperbacks)
  • Great product!


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  • John D. Hogan, born in 1939, is an American Psychologist and noted author on the history of Psychology. He is presently a Professor of Psychology at St. John's University in Jamaica, Queens, New York, where he taught since 1965. Additionally, he serves as the...

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