Presentations (Communicative Events)

Do Not Speak about Love. Speak about Compassion.

Steinsaltz, Adin

First, let me say one or two things about the word love. Love is such a used, abused, and misused word that people should possibly stay away from it. We use it for all kinds of purposes, to contain all kinds of meanings. Most of them are completely disconnected and unimportant. The word is especially abused in the English language, where you have love and divine love and "whatever" love. You have also the phrase making love, which is not exactly like love, but at least has a veiy clear-cut meaning. We should use other words for this, in order not be confused and mistaken. Today, we will look at the concept of love in international affairs and love in the university. The very combinations seem somehow impossible, or perhaps too ugly, to contemplate. Having discussed the problems with the word love, let me say a few words about how I would define it. I am not going to try to make a comprehensive definition—it's too complex and too hard. But to make a definition that has a clear meaning, clear enough to comprehend in itself, and to set borders and limits, let us say that— in essence—love is the basic experience of a feeling for the Other. In its simplest form, it is the motion of going out from myself toward the Other. That is the essence of love, and therefore any other meaning you give the word is marring it, obscuring it or making fraudulent claims.


Also Published In

Love and Its Obstacles
The Center for the Study of Science and Religion

More About This Work

Academic Units
Published Here
March 4, 2013


Love and Its Obstacles is the proceedings of a symposium held on November 7, 2004, at Low Memorial Library, Columbia University, New York. The symposium was organized by the Center for the Study of Science and Religion as part of the Love Studies Project, a two-year exploration of the subject of love in a university setting, sponsored by the Fetzer Institute.