Nammour Philosophy Symposium

April 16 & 17, 2013

Love is the Question

The moral thing I should wish to say to them is very simple: I should say, love is wise, hatred is foolish. In this world which is getting more and more closely interconnected, we have to learn to tolerate each other, we have to learn to put up with the fact that some people say things that we don’t like. We can only live together in that way —and if we are to live together and not die together, we must learn a kind of charity and a kind of tolerance, which is absolutely vital to the continuation of human life on this planet.

~Bertrand Russell 1959, in a video message to future generations.

Tuesday April 16th
10:00am - 12:00 pm          The Metaphysics of Love 
video icon Click to view. 2 hours 10min (CSUS Mediasite)

The love which moves the sun and other stars
Thomas Pyne, Sacramento State 
At the end of The Divine Comedy, Dante is granted a brief glimpse of the Divine Nature. He describes the object of his vision thus: “L'amor che move il sole e l'altre stelle." Dante is not being poetic and fanciful here, but unimpeachably orthodox. Christian doctrine presents reality as replete with love. Philosophers generally concentrate on properties of God like omnipotence and omniscience; and while they pay brief attention to God’s benevolence, it is only to lay a foundation for the much sexier issues surrounding the Problem of Evil. In philosophy of religion classes we never treat the subject of God’s love. Even those who are not propositional believers in Christian doctrine, though, can learn something about the nature of love from such a treatment.

The way of love in world religions
Greg Bock, Walters State Community College 
Religion teaches us, among other things, how we ought to live, and a common religious instruction is to walk in the way of love. However, love doesn’t look the same in every religion. In this talk, I will explore and compare the concept of love in several major religions.

Buddhism and the paradox of self love
David Corner, Sacramento State 
It is a fundamental teaching of Buddhism that there is no self. Yet Buddhism also advocates loving compassion toward all beings- and presumably, toward oneself as well. How am I to love myself, or other selves, when there are no selves to be loved? I will suggest a way in which this paradox might be resolved.

Where is the love?
Garret Merriam, Southern Indiana University 
We are told so many different stories about the nature of love it is hard to make sense of them all. Is love found in brain chemistry? In various social conventions? In the individual, romantic heart? These stories all seem plausible, but also seem to conflict with each other. If love is in the brain, then anyone with a working brain should experience love regardless of their societies conventions. And if love is a social construction then no amount of neuroscience will ever be able to locate it. But then again, if love is really a matter of the individual's personal relationship to their beloved, then we should look to the poets, not to neuroscientists or sociologists to truly understand love. Is it possible to reconcile these competing views of love? If we are to 'find love', we'd better know where to look.

Discussion Moderator: G. Randolph Mayes, Sacramento State

1:00-3:00 pm                     The Epistemology of Love

video icon Click to view. 1 hour 45 min (CSUS mediasite)

How to philosophize about love without missing the Forrest for the trees
Russell DiSilvestro, Sacramento State
Forrest Gump knows what love is. Or so he thinks. What does he think love is? What does his knowledge of what love is (or lack of it) tell us about love, about knowledge, and about their connection? After discussing these questions, we will apply what we learn to an astonishing recent television presentation that seeks to use brain scanning technology to help people know whether they love each other.

Taking a chance on love
Lok Chi Chan, Duke University
Uncertainty abounds when it comes to questions of love: Does she love me? Will we be happy together? Will we change and grow apart? Will I meet someone later who I might love more? We may feel certain of our answers to such questions, but the truth is that we are rolling the dice, taking a chance on love. When it comes to love we are in the predicament of facing what William James calls a "genuine option" - a momentous yet inescapable choice. Unfortunately for us, whether to take a chance on love is a question beyond our reason's reach. What, then, should we do? We shall consider two possible answers: the decision-theorist who tells us that we must take into consideration "the value of hope," and the existentialist who exhorts us to "hope against hope" - to love "by virtue of the absurd."

Love and intimacy: an information theoretic perspective
G. Randolph Mayes, Sacramento State
One of the characteristics of a loving relationship is intimacy. There are several different acknowledged forms of intimacy, but one not widely recognized I shall call informational intimacy. A loving intimate relationship is one in which the masks we wear for others are removed. Every day, often without exchanging a word, we reveal to those we love information about ourselves that is not meant to be casually shared. This is one way that the bonds of love can be forged and kept strong. This raises an interesting question. Most people would agree that we would only improve the world by increasing the amount of love within it. This raises an interesting conceptual question: If love essentially involves informational intimacy, doesn’t the quality of love necessarily diminish as it is shared? And this, in turn, raises a poignant empirical question: Is the increasing informational transparency of our world interfering with our capacity to create loving, intimate relationships? I think it is, but I’ll argue that it’s worth it. A world in which there is less informational intimacy may be one in which non intimates are more tolerant and compassionate toward one another.

Discussion Moderator: Rick Schubert, Cosumnes River College

3:30-5:00pm Philosophy Club Limeric Slam 
Valley Suite

 Wednesday April 17th

10:00 am-12:00 pm            Technology of Love and Loneliness -- Student Panel
video icon Click to view. 1 hour 59 min (CSUS Mediasite)

Winners of the Nammour student essay competition

The glorification and internalization of loneliness in an online community
Kia Seehafer, Sacramento State

Respondent: Preston Tillotson & Tyler Lehrer, Sacramento State (graduate)

Experiencing epistemic myopia: knowledge, novelty and fidelity in love
Dylan Popowicz, Sacramento State

Respondent: Chase Van Etten, Sacramento State

Discussion Moderator: Christina Bellon, Sacramento State

1:00-3:00 pm                        The Biology of Love
video icon Click to view. 1 hours 57 min (CSUS Mediasite)

What do men and women really want in a mate? An evolutionary perspective
Lisa Bohon, Sacramento State
Sex differences in attraction and love are explored from an evolutionary perspective. Evolutionary psychology investigates human behavior at the ultimate level of causation focusing on the psychological mechanisms that have been selected for in our evolutionary past, but still function today to influence what we think, feel, and do. Research from across disciplines and from diverse cultures is used to understand these phenomena. With regard to love and attraction, evolutionary psychology suggests that specific emotions towards mates and mate preferences for physical and personality characteristics have evolved because they increase fitness. That is, our feelings of lust and commitment; and the traits that we seek in a mate today, such a good looks, kindness, understanding, and intelligence, are preferences that led to increased reproduction and survival of offspring, thus strengthening those emotions and preferences in the resulting populations. Most humans, both heterosexual and homosexual, carry these emotions and preferences into their modern day relationships, whether they want children or not.

What’s love got to do with it? 
Vadim Keyser, Sacramento State 
What’s love but a second-hand emotion… generated by a simple biological process? Scientists know a lot about the way pheromones work in other animals to determine attraction and attachment. Humans seem to be determined in the same exact way. By introducing human pheromones we can significantly alter social-sexual behavior in our own species. However, there is a mismatch between what causes our behavior when it comes to love, and what we think causes our behavior. The working causal vocabulary we have about our romantic experiences seems to be a feeble rationalization at best when we take the biological standpoint. This should scare us. In this talk we will explore how pheromones move us, and the tension between what’s really going on in our love behavior vs. our thoughts, hopes, and desires about what’s going on.

The neurobiology of love
Sarah Strand, Sacramento State and UC Davis
Love is a universal experience found in all human cultures, but why do we choose the people that we do? Across the entirety of human culture, our single greatest commonality is the brain. What happens in the brains of people in love? In this talk, I'll discuss the three basic types of love (Lust, Romantic Attraction, and Attachment) and their unique brain pathways and neurochemistries. I'll also show how love is highly effective at reducing stress and enhancing overall health and survival. Last, I will apply these concepts in a closing discussion about the differences between the brains of men and women in love and how being in love may result in neurogenesis, or the birth of new neurons.

Discussion Moderator: G. Randolph Mayes, Sacramento State