Love and Forever Purpose of presentation and essay

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Love and Forever

Purpose of presentation and essay:

    • To examine the connections between love at immortality
    • What is immortality?
    • The reality?
    • The word?
    • The concept?


  • What would I get if I marry you?
  • You are a brazier that goes out when it freezes,
  • A flimsy door that keeps out neither wind nor draught,
  • A palace that crushes a warrior,
  • A mouse that gnaws through its housing,
  • Tar that smears its bearer,
  • Weak stone that undermines a wall,
  • Battering ram that destroys the wall for an enemy,
  • Shoe that pinches its wearer.
  • Which of your lovers lasted forever?
  • Benjamin R. Foster, translator and editor, The Epic of Gilgamesh (New York and London: W. W. Norton & Co., 2001), 31–43, 47.


  • Oh wonderful!
  • You’ll swear undying faith and love eternal,
  • Go on about desire unique and irresistible,
  • About longing, boundless, infinite:
  • That, too, with all your heart—I’ll bet!”
  • Goethe, Faust: A Tragedy, Martin Greenberg, trans. (New Haven: Yale, 1992), 98.

Pop Lyrics, Pop Promises

  • “I’ll love you forever”
  • “…Forever and ever”
  • “Forever and a day”
  • “…Until kingdom come”
  • “Always”


  • In the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus says:
  • “You are mistaken, not understanding the Scriptures, or the power of God. ‘For in the resurrection they neither marry, nor are given in marriage, but are like angels in heaven.’ ”
  • Matthew 22:29–30

What is meant by ‘forever’?

  • Love survives change:
  • Let me not to the marriage of true minds Admit impediments. Love is not love Which alters when it alteration finds, Or bends with the remover to remove: O, no! it is an ever-fixed mark, That looks on tempests and is never shaken; It is the star to every wandering bark, Whose worth’s unknown, although his height be taken. Love’s not Time’s fool, though rosy lips and cheeks Within his bending sickle’s compass come; Love alters not with his brief hours and weeks, But bears it out even to the edge of doom. If this be error and upon me proved, I never writ, nor no man ever loved.[i]
  • [i] 11. William Shakespeare, “Sonnet CXVI,” in Shakespeare's works (New York: Funk & Wagnalls Co., 1899), 1025.

Surviving Change

  • The relationship persists even as it undergoes its most radical change imaginable. Perhaps a love that doesn’t survive this ultimate change wasn’t really love after all.

Love is a child

  • “Might I not then say, ‘Now I love you best,’ When I was certain o’er incertainty, Crowning the present, doubting of the rest? Love is a babe, then might I not say so, To give full growth to that which still doth grow?”
  • William Shakespeare, “Sonnet CXV,” in Shakespeare's works (New York: Funk & Wagnalls Co., 1899), 1025.

Blaise Pascal (1623–1662 CE) :

  • Blaise Pascal (1623–1662 CE) :
    • “Love has no age; it is always a child.”
  • Blaise Pascal, “Discourse on the Passion of Love,” O. W. Wright, trans., in The Harvard classics, edited by Charles W. Eliot.(New York: P.F. Collier & Son, 1909–14), 22.

Love and “being there”

  • to anticipate the continuation of the loving relationship into the indefinite future. We expect the other to “be there” and “be loving” if they are able.
  • The presupposition of indefinite existence that love makes, though, is so strong that the death of a lover shatters the one left behind.
  • As philosopher Robert Olson writes:
    • A man may be in love without having known suffering, if to be in love is to be infatuated or simply to be a faithful husband and father. But, in the former case what passes by the name of love is simply a nervous itch; in the latter case, a routine or habit. In its essence love is an attitude of care and concern for a being whose death or desertion is always possible and would be an irreparable personal loss.
  • Robert G. Olson, An Introduction to Existentialism (New York: Dover Books, 1962), 18.

Faithful unto Death and Beyond

  • “A virtuous wife who after the death of her husband constantly remains chaste reaches heaven…But a woman, who from a desire to have offspring violates her duty towards her deceased husband, brings on herself disgrace in this world and loses her place with her husband in heaven…A faithful wife who desires to dwell after death with her husband must never do anything that might displease him who took her hand, whether he be alive or dead. At her pleasure let her emaciate her body by living on pure flowers, roots, and fruit but she must never even mention the name of another man after her husband has died.”
  • “The Laws of Manu” in Oliver. A. Johnson, ed., Sources of World Civilization, Second Edition (Upper Saddle River: Prentice Hall, 2000), 62–3.

Love as a distraction from our mortality

Love as a distraction from our mortality

  • Peter: You feel so sure of that [meaninglessness of the universe] when you look out on a clear night like tonight and see all those millions of stars? That none of it matters?
  • Lloyd: I think it’s just as beautiful as you do, and vaguely evocative of some deep truth that always just keeps slipping away, but then my professional perspective overcomes me, a less wishful, more penetrating view of it, and I understand it for what it truly is: haphazard, morally neutral, and unimaginably violent.
  • Peter: Look, we shouldn’t have this conversation. I have to sleep alone tonight.
  • Quoted in Mark T. Conrad’s “God, Suicide, and the Meaning of Life,” in Woody Allen and Philosophy (Peru, Illinois: Open Court, 2004), 21.

Love as a reminder of our mortality

Love as a reminder of our mortality

  • “The soul-elevating power of sexuality is, at bottom, rooted in its strange connection to mortality, which it simultaneously accepts and tries to overcome...Sexuality…serves replacement; the two that come together to generate one soon will die. Sexual desire in humans as in animals, thus serves an end that is partially hidden from, and finally at odds with, the self-serving individual. Whether we know it or not, when we are sexually active we are voting with our own genitalia for our own demise. The salmon swimming upstream to spawn and die tell the universal story: sex is bound up with death, to which it holds a partial answer in procreation.”
  • Leon Kass “The Wisdom of Repugnance: The Case against Human Cloning,” in Christina Sommers and Fred Sommers’ Introductory Readings in Ethics (Belmont: Wadsworth, 2004), 555. Originally in Leon R. Kass and James Q. Wilson The Ethics of Cloning (Washington, D.C.: American Enterprise Institute, 1998), 17–59.

Preclassical Greeks: myth and the afterlife : the birth of Eros

  • “First of all, the Void (Chaos) came into being, next broad-bosomed Earth, the solid and eternal home of all, and Eros [Desire], the most beautiful of the immortal gods, who in every man and every god softens the sinews and overpowers the prudent purpose of the mind.”
  • Hesiod's Theogoy, Norman 0. Brown, trans. (New York: Liberal Arts Press, 1953), 56–9, lines 116–153.

Love and Immortality in Plato‘s ‘Symposium’

  • The lover ascents to true beauty by:
  • “climbing from the love of one person to love of two; from two to love of all physical beauty; from physical beauty to beauty in human behavior; thence to beauty in all subjects of study; from them he arrives finally at that branch of knowledge which studies nothing but ultimate beauty. Then at last he understands what true beauty is.”
  • Plato, Symposium, 211c3–7.

Socrates: Phaedo

Socrates: Phaedo

  • “Then the soul is more like the invisible than the body; and the body is like the visible…Have we not also said that, when the soul employs the body in any inquiry, and makes use of sight or hearing, or any other sense—for inquiry with the body means inquiry of the sense—she is dragged away by it to the things which never remain the same, and wanders about blindly, and becomes confused and dizzy, like a drunken man, from dealing with things that are ever changing?…But when she investigates any question by herself, she goes away to the pure, and eternal, and immortal, and unchangeable, to which she is akin, and so she comes to be ever with it, as soon as she is by herself, and can be so; and then she rests from her wanderings and dwells with it unchangingly, for she is dealing with what is unchanging. And is not this state of the soul called wisdom?”
  • Plato, Phaedo, 79b9–d5.

Love of mental vs. Love of Physical

  • Jean-Baptiste Regnault’s (1754–1829 CE) 18th century painting Socrates Tears Alcibiades from the Embrace of Sensual Pleasure

Loving God

Loving God

Loving God

  • Compared to loving God and gaining what he can grant, loving material things is not worth our attention. St. Augustine (354–430 CE), prior to his saintly days, writes in his Confessions of the days when he loved the material and ignored his true nature, leading a self-inflicted debased existence with the impermanent and transient. He wasted his time dwelling with those things that were alien to his spiritual nature and destiny. He came around to see, through Christianity and his Platonism, that one should forsake the items of this world and love the permanent. Love of God trumps all other love.

God’s loving us

  • One should not underestimate that being loved by God is perhaps more important as loving God when it comes to gaining immortality from the relation. If not for God’s love for us, especially in the Abrahamic religions, then the individual is helpless against death. The Christian verse is explicit: “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have eternal life.”
  • The message is unequivocal: we perish without God’s love for us.
  • John 3:16

God’s loving us

  • “…and even the powers of hell can’t keep God’s love away. Whether we are high above the sky or in the deepest ocean, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.” -
  • Romans 8:38-39

Love Reviewed

  • For a love that really lasts, one must love a thing that lasts.
    • Gilgamesh- love things of this earth
    • Diotima and Socrates- love immaterial, things of spirit (Forms)
    • Jesus- love things of heaven
    • Common experience- anticipate a tomorrow with the beloved

God’s loving us

  • We can love God all we want and try to attach ourselves to His eternality. Yet, if the love is unrequited, it will be as if we never loved Him at all.
  • So, whether attaching ourselves to another half to bring new physical life, or a Form to achieve a taste of immortal truth, or to a God who is granting us continued life, love is essentially a merging into an object beyond ourselves with the capability to enlarge ourselves.

Dependence on objects

  • Love – the Other must live
  • Fame – the Other must remember
  • Creative artifact – the world must continue to exist
  • Afterlife – heaven must take us
  • Earth – the world must continue to exist

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