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The spark of love
Mike wrote in this brilliant post : “The basic structure of desire, or so psychologists say, is that I desire what I understand others to desire.”

Is it the same about love?

Here is a short story from Saint Augustine :

21. What was it, O Lord my God, that prompted me to dedicate these books to Hierius, an orator of Rome, a man I did not know by sight but whom Ioved for his reputation of learning, in which he was famous--and also for some words of his that I had heard which had pleased me? But he pleased me more because he pleased others, who gave him high praise and expressed amazement that a Syrian, who had first studied Greek eloquence, should thereafter become so wonderful a Latin orator and also so well versed in philosophy. Thus a man we have never seen is commended and loved. Does a love like this come into the heart of the hearer from the mouth of him who sings the other's praise? Not so. Instead, one catches the spark of love from one who loves. This is why we love one who is praised when the eulogist is believed to give his praise from an unfeigned heart; that is, when he who loves him praises him.

22. Thus it was that I loved men on the basis of other men's judgment,and not thine, O my God, in whom no man is deceived. But why is it that the feeling I had for such men was not like my feeling toward the renowned charioteer, or the great gladiatorial hunter, famed far and wide and popular with the mob? Actually, I admired the orator in a different and more serious fashion, as I would myself desire to be admired. For I did not want them to praise and love me as actors were praised and loved--although I myself praise and love them too. I would prefer being unknown than known in that way, or even being hated than loved that way. How are these various influences and divers sorts of loves distributed within one soul? What is it that I am in love with in another which, if I did not hate, I should neither detest nor repel from myself, seeing that we are equally men? For it does not follow that because the good horse is admired by a man who would not be that horse--even if he could--the same kind of admiration should be given to an actor, who shares our nature. Do I then love that in a man, which I also, a man, would hate to be? Man is himself a great deep. Thou dost number his very hairs, O Lord, and they do not fall to the ground without thee, and yet the hairs of his head are more readily numbered than are his affections and the movements of his heart.

23. But that orator whom I admired so much was the kind of man I wished myself to be. Thus I erred through a swelling pride and "was carried about with every wind," but through it all I was being piloted by thee,though most secretly. And how is it that I know--whence comes my confident confession to thee--that I loved him more because of the love of those who praised him than for the things they praised in him?Because if he had gone unpraised, and these same people had criticized him and had spoken the same things of him in a tone of scorn and disapproval, I should never have been kindled and provoked to love him.And yet his qualities would not have been different, nor would he have been different himself; only the appraisals of the spectators. See where the helpless soul lies prostrate that is not yet sustained by the stability of truth! Just as the breezes of speech blow from the breast  of the opinionated, so also the soul is tossed this way and that, driven forward and backward, and the light is obscured to it and the truth not seen. And yet, there it is in front of us. And to me it was a great matter that both my literary work and my zest for learning should be known by that man. For if he approved them, I would be even more fond of him; but if he disapproved, this vain heart of mine, devoid of thy steadfastness, would have been offended. And so I meditated on the problem "of the beautiful and the fitting" and dedicated my essay on it to him. I regarded it admiringly, though no one else joined me in doing so.
(Saint Augustine Confessions, Book 4 Chapter 14)

 
Books Discussed
The Confessions of Saint Augustine
by Augustine of Hippo


'Mike wrote in this brilliant post : “The basic structure of desire, or so psychologists say, is that I desire what I understand others to desire.”

Is it the same about love?
'

We have to know something or someone before we can love or hate.  After that we have to be true to ourselves.
And we have to know what love is.
Do we love/desire the money or the status or the steadiness of a person's mind and heart?
There are many of us who are only in the market for mind and heart. 
Love vs. Desire - Desire seems to me to be driven more by control, possesion, in a sense, consumption. "I must have that." I desire a lifestyle, an ice cream cone, sex. Desire driven to an extreme becomes lust or obsession. If desire is driven by wanting what others want it has a component of Ego weakness. I don't know myself and so I am directed by the opinion of others. Modern advertising is all about fostering desire. St. Augustine confesses his love for the orator based on the opinion of others, ?because it is a weakness? I don't know.

Love on the other hand moves us beyond ourselves. Romantic love when it is immature has a component of infatuation or the unreality about the assessment of who that other person truely is. It is idealized. Mature love has the essence of self sacrifice, accepting the other for who they are, not as we would wish them to be. If I love someone, truely, I want what is best for them irregardless of how that effects my circumstances. That's a pretty high order in this society. Think Lancelot and Gennivere (sp?). There is also the love for a child, or a beloved pet; an overwhelming tenderness and desire for their comfort and happiness. And of course religious love, which certainly transports one beyound oneself and sometimes beyond the desire for self preservation and beyond physical pain.

Of couse biopsychology would posit pheremones and other chemical reactions driven by DNA, or Object relations, etc. But, let's not go there.

Ah love!

In response to Tom Jerome
To me, "desire" is: "I would really, really like to have / do / be  that, but I can certainly get on with my life without it. A bit of control or possession is implied. I agree with you that love is a much more all-encompassing mental commitment: I can love without any return on my investment, i.e. what I love doesn't need to love me back, belong to me, or be under my control.
Desire often results from my curiosity: I read about great pianists (incl. Gerald Moore in Am I too loud?), love piano music, and desire most fervently to play the piano, a physical impossibility,  yet still a strong desire.
love  Chinese classical poetry. The exploration of this field has led me to desire to learn Mandarin so that I may read it in the original form: this is a desire I can attain.

As for romantic love and desire, that is another kettle of fish. Do we desire love? Probably true. Once we love, do we need to "own or control" the person or pet? Not really. We do a lot of things for our beloved just because we love, not because we expect payment of some kind.
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