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Does Loving Longer Mean Loving More? On the Nature of Enduring Affective Attitudes

Abstract

This article provides a conceptual map of the affective terrain while focusing on enduring positive affective attitudes, such as love and happiness. The first section of the article examines the basic characteristics of affective attitudes, i.e., intentionality, feeling, and dispositionality, and classifies the various affective attitudes accordingly. An important distinction in this regard is between acute, extended, and enduring affective attitudes. Then a discussion on the temporality of affective attitudes is presented. The second section discusses major mechanisms that enable long-lasting affective attitudes to endure. These mechanisms include, (1) Hedonic adaptation, which reduces affective intensity, thereby enabling adaptation to a stable, average level of affective intensity; (2) Positive mood offset, which maintains a moderate level of positive mood in the absence of adverse stimuli; (3) The enduring mood of being dissatisfied, thereby keeping the agent’s interest high, and (4) Meaningful development, which underlies the continuation and enhancement of the affective attitude. Each of these mechanisms sustains, in its own unique way, the balance required for enduring affective attitudes. The third section applies the above considerations to two major enduring positive affective attitudes: the mood of lasting happiness and the enduring emotion of profound romantic love. Time is typically a necessary condition for the creation and enhancement of such love (and other enduring affective attitudes). However, it is not a sufficient condition. So only in some cases, but not in all, does loving longer mean loving more.

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Notes

  1. Ben-Ze'ev 2000: 49–52; Ben-Ze’ev 2017. While the above characterization of intentionality is commonly accepted, certain philosophers attach some kind of intentionality also to feeling (see, e.g., Goldie 2000, pp. 16–28; Goldie 2002). This dispute has little bearing upon my main arguments regarding enduring affective attitudes.

  2. Baumeister and Bratslavsky 1999; Ben-Ze'ev 2000, pp. 13–18; Frijda 2007; cf. Aristotle 1984, Rhetoric, 1378a21; Lyons 1980, pp. 115–129.

  3. Spinoza 1677:IIIp6; IIIdef.aff.; Vp39s. This characterization refers merely to what Spinoza terms “passive emotions”; it does not refer, for example, to the intellectual love of God.

  4. Ben-Ze’ev and Krebs 2017. The Stoic philosopher Chrysippus made a somewhat similar distinction between two movements typical of emotions: the first, which is a kind of acute emotion, is involuntary and is caused by external change; the second, which seem to involve both extended and enduring emotions, occurs when the emotion extends over time; see Oatley 2010.

  5. See, e.g., Aristotle 1984, Metaphysics, 1048b18ff, 1050a23ff; Nicomachean Ethics, 1174a14ff. For further discussion and some relevant literature, see, e.g., Nussbaum 1986, Chapter, 11.

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Ben-Ze’ev, A. Does Loving Longer Mean Loving More? On the Nature of Enduring Affective Attitudes. Philosophia 45, 1541–1562 (2017). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11406-017-9882-4

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Keywords

  • Moods
  • Love
  • Happiness
  • Time
  • Positive affective attitudes
  • Emotions
  • Loving longer
  • Development