Alain de Botton, Essays in Love

Some quotes and excerpts from Essays in Love by Alain de Botton, a wonderful and engaging book that I would recommend for all those who wish to gain a more honest philosophical perspective on love.

* Most people would throw away all their cynicism if they could. The majority just never get the chance.

* Unrequited love may be painful, but it is safely painful, because it does not involve inflicting damage on anyone but oneself, a private pain that is as bitter-sweet as it is self-induced. But as soon as love is reciprocated, one must be prepared to give up the passivity of simply being hurt to take on the responsibility of perpetrating hurt oneself.

* Perhaps the easiest people to fall in love with are those about whom we know nothing.

* I did not love Chloe for her body, I loved her body for the promise of who she was. It was a most inspiring promise.

* Lovers cannot remain philosophers for long, they should give way to the religious impulse, which is to believe and have faith, as opposed to the philosophical impulse, which is to doubt and enquire. They should prefer the risk of being wrong and in love to being in doubt and without love.

* However happy we may be with our partner, our love for them necessarily hinders us from pursuing alternatives. Why should this constrain us if we love them? Why should we feel this as a loss unless our love for them has already begun to wane? Because in resolving our need to love, we do not always succeed in resolving our need to long.

* The unknown carries with it a mirror of all our deepest, most inexpressible wishes. The unknown is the fatal proposition that a face seen across the room will always hold out to the known. I may have loved Chloe but because I knew Chloe, I did not long for her. Longing cannot indefinitely direct itself at those we know, for their qualities are charted and therefore lack the mystery longing demands.

* Why don't you love me? is as impossible a question (though a far less pleasant one) to ask as Why do you love me? In both cases, we come up against our lack of conscious control in the amorous structure, the fact that love has been brought to us as a gift for reasons we never wholly determine or deserve. To ask such questions, we are forced to veer on one side towards complete arrogance, on the other to complete humility: What have I done to deserve love? asks the humble lover; I can have done nothing. What have I done to be denied love? protests the betrayed one, arrogantly claiming possession of a gift that is never one's due. To both questions, the one who hands out love can only reply: Because you are you – an answer that leaves the beloved dangerously and unpredictably strung between grandiosity and depression.

* ... there is a great difference between identifying a problem and solving it, between wisdom and the wise life. We are all more intelligent than we are capable, and awareness of the insanity of love has never saved anyone from the disease.

(hat-tip: Sabahat, for directing me to this book)


Tazeen said…
I am so glad to have found a kindred spirit. I loved this one so much that I was kinda sad when it finished and I started reading it randomly soon after. I have now taken to quoting like I used to quote matrix during my younger days :)