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Sternberg and Ibn Hazm On the Nature of Love
Suprayetno W, lahir di Medan pada tahun 1963. Menyelesaikan pendidikan dasar pada tahun 1976 di Sekolah Dasar Islam Persatuan Amal Bakti (PAB) Medan Estate kemudian melanjutkan ke Sekolah Menengah Pertama di tempat yang sama dan selesai pada tahun 1980. Cita-cita untuk menjadi guru direalisasikan dengan melanjut ke Sekolah Pendidikan Guru Negeri I Medan dan tamat pada tahun 1983. Program Sarjana Strata 1 ditempuh di Fakultas Tarbiyah IAIN Sumatera Utara dan diselesaikan pada tahun 1990. Tahun 1997 menyelesaikan program Master di Institute of Islamic Studies McGill Univesity, Montreal, Canada. Saat ini sedang menekuni program Doktoral di Program Pascasarjana IAIN Sumatera Utara. Karyakarya tulis yang pernah dihasilkan antara lain. (1). “Robert J. Sternberg And Ibn Hazm On The Nature Of Love” dalam The Dynamic of Islamic Civilization diterbitkan oleh Titian Ilahi, Yogyakarta tahun 1998. (2) “Perlukah Anak Hukuman Badan ?” dalam Kumpulan Artikel Psikologi Anak diterbitkan oleh Intisari Mediatama, Jakarta tahun 1999. (3) “Modernisasi Sistem Pendidikan Pesantren” dalam Pranata Islam di Indonesia yang diterbitkan Logos Wacana Ilmu, Jakarta tahun 2002. (4) “Kepribadian Individu Dan Masyarakat Muslim Dalam Tantangan” dalam Kepribadian dan Pendidikan diterbitkan Cita Pustaka Media, Bandung tahun 2006. (5) “Tantangan Psikologis Era Reformasi Dalam Penegakan Jati Diri Muslim Indonesia” dalam Pendidikan dan Psikologi Islami diterbitkan Cita Pustaka Media, Bandung tahun 2007. (6) “Hubungan Interpersonal Konselor-Klien” dalam Pendidikan dan Konseling Islami diterbitkan Cita Pustaka Media, Bandung tahun 2008. Sejak tahun 1992 sampai saat ini mengabdikan diri di IAIN Sumatera Utara sebagai dosen Psikologi Agama.
It has been said that love is the most important thing for human kind, that is why people feel that life without love is incomplete. At the same time, people have very divergent opinions about the nature of love. Some psychologists emphasize the mother-child relationship as the prototype of all love relationships,1 while Freud stated that the patterns of interaction between parents and their children can lead to various kinds of pathological disorders or strengths in personality development, including the capacity to love.2 Another psychologist, Sternberg, has developed a different theory about love. Ibn Hazm is referred to as a classical philosopher, but in my opinion his writing on love
1 Robert J. Sternberg and Michael L. Barnes.ed., The Psychology of Love, (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1988), p. 14 2 Freud, Sigmund., "Group Psychology and the Analysis of the Ego" in The Major Works of Sigmund Freud, (Chicago: Encyclopedia Britannica), p.664-696
“Tawq al-ammah f al-Ulfah wa al-Ullaf”, can be classified within a psychological framework as he bases his observations concerning love on people's motivations and how individuals actualize their love. It is in this respect that Ibn Hazm’s work can be contrasted to the psychological theory proposed by an author in psychology of love, Robert J. Sternberg. In this paper I will compare the different theories on the nature of love between Sternberg and Ibn Hazm to contrast how love has been differently interpreted on a psychological level. I chose to compare these authors as they both based their theories on human observations concerning people’s motivations and how they actualize their love. While they analyze these from a psychological perspective, they do so from two different disciplines [psychology and philosophy] and in different times and places. Ibn Hazm wrote his work in Spain in 1022, and Sternberg wrote his work in the United States in 1988; as love is an inherent capacity of human beings, it is interesting to acknowledge the similarities and the differences from both theoretical perspectives from different points in history and from different social contexts. Ibn Hazm states that people have divergent opinions about love which have been debated at great length. He considers "Love as a conjunction between scattered parts of souls that have become divided in this physical universe, a union influence within the substance of their original sublime element".3 He also concludes that love is something from the soul itself. Although some times there is love that is motivated from outside the soul, it passes away when the cause itself disappears. Because of this our physical forms have a wonderful facility of drawing together the scattered parts of human beings' soul. When one is in love the soul becomes beautiful, and this affects how we perceive everything outside of ourselves; hence women and men are attracted and unite in love when their souls perceive a correspondance in their images. Thus according to Ibn
3 ‘Al ibn Amad ibn azm, Tawq al-ammah f al-Ulfah wa al-Ullaf, (Bayrut: al-Mu‘assasah al-‘Arabiyah lil-Dirasat wa-al-Nashr, 1993),p. 93. Transl. p. 23
Hazm, humankind yearns for perfectly symmetrical images which are then reflected in the souls of those who are in love. If individuals do not discover similarities between their souls, their affections go no further than their flesh and remain at a level of carnal desire. Ibn Hazm believes that there are many kinds of love. The first type of love, he says, is motivated by religious beliefs, thus this love between two people is based "in God". Love is also derived from kinship or family ties, familiarity, friendship, from shared goals or aims. Love can also be the result of coveting someone’s worldly success or can based upon a shared secret or love for the purpose of sexual enjoyment and satisfying desire. He concludes that passionate love is caused by the union of souls. Most types of love, says Ibn Hazm, are based on motive. Their existence and the quality of love depends on these motivations. If there is an increase in motive love will also increase, but when motives are decreased love decreases, or if there is no outer motive love will disappear. The only exception to these types of love effected by motives is true passion, which is long lasting and will not end until death. He substantiates his argument that passionate love is a fusion of souls, by illustrating with an example of an old man or woman whose partner has died. They can be reminded of this passion; the memories of this love will make him or her feel joy, intense emotions, create physical yearnings, or cause melancholy, moodiness, or distractedness. This passionate love can be stirred in ones' souls. In his book, “The Triangle of Love”, Sternberg states that love consists of three key components which always are maintained, even if other attributes vary. These key components are intimacy, passion, and commitment. He bases his theory on the nature of love on four factors: 1) he believes that all aspects of love are factors or manifestation of these three components; 2) he
proposes that while there are diversities across cultures in some aspects of love, these three components always appear and carry varying amounts of importance "in virtually any time or place"; 3) despite the fact that these three components are distinct, they are also related; and 4) that all accounts of love are somewhat similar. He purports that most importantly his theory on love works, but he does not explain further how this theory works. Intimacy includes many qualities, such as the desire to promote the welfare of a loved one, experiencing mutual happiness and respect, understanding and communication, being able to count on one another in times of need, sharing oneself and one's possessions, and valuing the loved one. To achieve this intimacy, people do not need to experience all of these feelings, as these may vary. According to Sternberg, "trust, honesty, respect, commitment, safety, support, generosity, loyalty, mutuality, constancy, understanding, and acceptance"4 are the keys to intimacy. Furthermore, he states that self-disclosure is the starting point to achieve intimacy, as a couple needs to bridge the gap between them. He argues that intimacy forms the foundation of love, which develops slowly and can be difficult to achieve. Thus, he states: Moreover, once it starts to be attained, it may, paradoxically, start to go away because of the threat it poses. It poses a threat in terms not only of the dangers of self-disclosure but of the danger one starts to feel to one's existence as a separate, autonomous being. Few people want to be "consumed" by a relationship, yet many people start to feel as if they are being consumed when they get too close to another human being. The result is a balancing act between intimacy and autonomy which goes on throughout the lives of most couples, a balancing act in which a completely stable equilibrium is often never achieved. But this in itself is not necessarily bad: the swinging back and forth of the intimacy pendulum provides some of the excitement that keeps many relationships alive."5 Sternberg believes that passion is the expression of desires and needs, and that its strength depends on the individual, the situation, and the type of relationship. The expressions of needs are J. Sternberg, The Triangle of Love : Intimacy, Passion, Commitment, (New York : Basic Books, c1988). p 40
Sternberg, p. 41-42 4
multiple, including self-esteem, nurturance, affiliation, dominance, submission, or sexual fulfilment. Passion in love tends to interact strongly with intimacy, and often they stimulate each other. While a relationship may be stimulated by passion in the beginning, intimacy can facilitate a closeness in a relationship; however sometimes intimacy and passion can work against each other. For example, Sternberg states that "in a relationship with a prostitute, a man may seek to maximize fulfilment of the need for passion while purposefully minimizing intimacy". 6 So while he supports the strong interaction of these components, this interaction may enhance or diminish either. A decision or commitment to love consists of two aspects. In the short term, there is the decision to love someone, whereas in the long-term there is a commitment to maintain this love. These two aspects do not necessarily occur together, as a man can decide to marry a woman without love which happens in arranged marriage, or reversely, a couple can maintain a loverelationship without deciding to married. It should be noted that a decision to commit to a relationship keeps the relationship together, as it helps to get “through hard times and for returning to better ones".7 A commitment to love interacts with both intimacy and passion, and it is also possible that a commitment to a relationship can create intimacy and passion. Sternberg asks us “how do people love?” and in what “ways do people love?” He divides love into different ways of loving. Infatuated love results from the experience of passionate arousal without the intimacy and commitment components of love. He elaborates how high levels of psycho-physiological arousals are manifested in infatuations which cause bodily symptoms. Empty love or a just a decision to love can occur either at the end of a long relationship or at the beginning of a relationship, such as an arranged marriage. Companionate love is a combination of
Sternberg, p. 43 Sternberg, p. 46 5
intimacy and commitment, without passion. Complete love, he says, is a combination of the three components equally and this occurs most often in romantic relationships, whereas non-love is the absence of all of the three components. For Ibn Hazm, true love is a spiritual approbation and a fusion of the souls. He insists that two persons cannot love each other without an affinity in the natural attributes between them. When a man or a woman are attracted, and unite in love with each other, their souls perceive a similarity in their images and once united true love is established. If their souls do not discover these similarities their affection goes no further than the form. In other words, this similarity between the lovers plays a key role, and the more numerous the resemblances, the greater will be their congeniality and the firmer their affection. Ibn Hazm uses hatred as a comparison to love. He states that two persons can hate each other for no other reason than simply because one has a wholly irrational hostility for the other. Ibn Hazm further states that love has certain signs: One sign has to do with vision or “ a gaze” which is direct or indirect. A brooding gaze is common and can be seen between lovers. As well, a lover will direct conversation to the beloved, even when they are talking to someone else. A lover also wants to be close to the loved one forever. At other times a sudden confusion and excitement may occur when lovers meet each other unexpectedly. As well, a man and woman who are in love will give to the limit of their capacity. Lovers almost always feel excited to hear the loved one's name pronounced. Sleeplessness is a common affliction of lovers, and a lover may love their lovers’ kin to the same extent that they love their own family, themselves, or their friends. Ibn Hazm states that there are also other signs which happen when people are in love. They can have evil thoughts of one another when they are jealous; one suspects every word which
their partner utters, and can misconstrue it wilfully. Irrationality can overtakes lovers such as, when a lover hopes to meet the beloved but some obstacle prevents their meeting, or when they quarrel. Only clear communication can help to overcome jealousy and irrational behaviour. Sternberg also addresses this issue. He says that there can be a number of sources for a discrepancy between the way one person feels toward another, and the way the other perceives these feelings. He concludes that one of the most powerful sources for misunderstanding is the failure to express one's love fully in action. This discrepancy may also be caused by different backgrounds or socialization in which individuals come to understand the meaning of behaviour differently. Sternberg further states that each of the three components of love is expressed through particular actions. Intimacy can be expressed by "communicating inner feelings; promoting the others's well-being; sharing your possessions, time and self; expressing empathy for the other; and offering emotional and material support to the other".8 Passion can be expressed by "kissing, hugging, gazing, touching, and making love".9 The expression of a commitment can be in the form of "pledging fidelity, staying in a relationship through hard times, engagement, and marriage".10 Sternberg reenforces that it is important to consider love as it is expressed through action, because action has many effects on a relationship. In the first place actions can affect the level of the three components. As well, Sternberg states that actions lead to other actions, and the way you act is likely to affect the way the other feels and thinks about you. Furthermore, your actions will almost inevitably have an effect on another's actions, therefore leading to a mutually reinforcing series of paired action sequences. Without expression, even the greatest of loves can
Sternberg, p. 81 Sternberg, p. 81 Sternberg, p. 81 7
die. I take this as a point of departure in discussing the two perspectives of the authors on the nature of love. Interestingly, while Sternberg supports that without the active expression of love, even the greatest of loves can die; a love which one would assume from his theory has been a romantic love combining all of the three key components. Sternberg thus sees the death of the greatest love, through the actions of individuals in their lives which does not touch on elements of the soul or the afterlife. Ibn Hazm on the other hand, states that on a psychological level, even after the death of a loved one, a true love produced by the fusion of souls does not die, but can be rekindled in the memories of an individual to produce powerful emotional and physical effects. He thus creates a link between the psyche of individuals and their souls; Sternberg does not make this affiliation. Ibn Hazm believes that a love which causes the fusion of souls during life, dissipates at death. I believe, however, that the soul continues after the death of the body, thus this love between souls still exists. The premise that the soul continues after death is supported by Islamic doctrine, as well as many other religious faiths. In describing the kinds of love, Ibn Hazm states that the first rank of love, which he considers as the noblest one, is the love which based in God. For me this kind of love is motivated by looking for blessing from God. Therefore, it can be said that when we have faith in God this motivation and love exist, but when our faith in God disappears, this noblest of love disappears. It seems to me that Ibn Hazm does not consider that one's faith could change and effect this noblest of all love. He also maintains that a true love perpetuated by the fusion of souls ends at death and does not consider the implications of the remnants of this type of love involving the soul, in relation to the afterlife or when in Islamic doctrine, our souls return to God. As well, Ibn Hazm does not consider the love of God, beyond the love in God, which is affiliated with the sixth sense
and the soul. 11 Sternberg does not create a link with love and the soul in his theory of love. I believe that he also overlooks some important dimensions in his "universalizing" theory. While he says that the three components of love are present, to varying degrees, in all times and places, I question this premise on the basis of the cultural and social diversities which are present "world wide". While these components may be present in the actualization and manifestation of love, the meaning or understandings of these components could drastically change the interplay between these elements on a psychological level for individuals within differing cultures. It is perhaps too "essentializing" on Sternberg's part, to propose that a theory works universally without giving some sound cross cultural evidence; otherwise he glosses over the very subtleties of love in his theory of love. On another level, neither Sternberg and Ibn Hazm discuss love, which exists outside of a heterosexual relationship; they both disregard same sex relationships and the implications for their philosophies or theories. As both authors base their premises on observations and the analysis of human action, behaviour, and psychological understandings, they make oversights in the connection between love and the spiritual realm of the soul, the meaning of love in cultural context, and love in homosexual relationships; these also come into play in the nature of love. While the differences in their fields of study frame their theories on the nature of love, it is difficult to delimit where theory and subjectivity begin and end, how the time frame and location affected their work, and how this can effect what both authors choose to observe and interpret. While Hazm focuses on the spiritual levels of love as the ultimate forms of love [ with God and the spiritual fusion of the souls of individuals]; Sternberg focuses on the psychological processes of human social interaction. I would conclude that an analysis of love could transcend the limitations posed by both authors by focusing on what people do and what people say about love,
al-Ghaz_l_, Ihy_' ‘ul_m al- d_n, (Dimashq ; Bayrut : Dar al-Khayr, 1990), p. 255 9
considering multiple levels of expression, actions, and motivations, including spirituality and the psychological processes of human interactions. This perspective would perhaps be more akin to an anthropology of love, to explore the complexities of the inherent capacity of humans to love from different cultural perspectives.
BIBLIOGRAPHY Primary Sources Ibn azm, ‘Al ibn Amad, Tawq al-ammah f al-Ulfah wa al-Ullaf, Bayrut: al-Mu‘assasah al-‘Arabiyah lil-Dirasat wa-al-Nashr, 1993. Sternberg, Robert J., The Triangle of Love : Intimacy, Passion, Commitment, New York : Basic Books, 1988 Secondary Sources Books Crider, Andrew B., and George R Goethals, Robert D. Kavanaugh, Paul R. Solomon, Psychology, London: Scott, Foresman and Company, n.d. Browning, Religious Thought and the Modern Psychologies: A Critical Conversation in the Theology of Culture, Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1987 El-Guindi, Fadwa, Religion in Culture, Dubuque, Iowa: W.C. Brown Co., 1997 Gilsenan, Michael, Saint and Sufi in Modern Egypt: An Essay in the Sociology of Religion, Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1973 Homans, Peter,ed., The Dialogue Between Theology and Psychology, Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1968 Johnston, William, The Inner Eye of Love: Mysticism and Religion, San Francisco: Harper and Row, 1978 Morris, Brian, Anthropology of the Self: The Individual in Cultural Perspective, London: Boulder, Colo: Pluto Press, 1994 Prentice, Robert P., The Psychology of Love According to St. Bonaventure, New York: The Franciscan Institute, 1957 Slade, Herbert Edwin William, Contemplative Intimacy, London: Darton, Longman and Todd, 1977 Sternberg, Robert J., and Michael L. Barnes. Ed., The Psychology of Love, New Haven: Yale University Press, 1988 Articles 11
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