Love, Self and Other

Michael Warner “Thoreau’s Bottom” in Raritan XI:3 (Winter 1992).

On Hegel on love:

In Philosophy of Right, for example, Hegel declared that “love” could be defined as the experience of a problem: “The first moment in love is that I do not wish to be a self-subsistent and independent person and that, if I were, then I would feel defective and incomplete. The second moment is that I find myself in another person, that I count for something in the other, while the other in turn comes to count for something in me. Love, therefore, is the most tremendous contradiction.”

On Thoreau on the other, object of love:

“Thou hast loved me,” he exclaims in the privacy of his journal, “for what I wast not — but for what I aspired to be.” In these moments of desire, a self/other opposition becomes an unstable antinomy. By dint of his very insistence on the integration and autonomy of “self,” Thoreau divides himself from an ideal self. Self is an object to itself, even another self, rather than an experiential unity. “May I be to myself as one is to me whom I love,” he says, “a dear and cherished object.”

“Je est un autre.”

And so for day 773

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