Definition of Love

(by Douglas R. Hofstadter)

Who has not at some time mused about the inevitable circularity of dictionary definitions? Anyone can see that all words eventually are defined in terms of some fundamental set that is not further reducible, but simply goes round and round endlessly. You can amuse yourself by looking up the definition of a common word in a dictionary and replacing the main words in it by their definitions. I once carried this process out for “love” (defined as “A strong affection for or attachment or devotion to a person or persons”), substituting for “strong,” “affection,” “attachment,” “devotion,” and “person,” and coming up with this concoction:

A morally powerful mental state or tendency, having strength of character or will for, or affectionate regard, or loyalty, faithfulness, or deep affection to, a human being or beings, especially as distinguished from a thing or lower animal.

But not being satisfied with that, I carried the whole process one step further. This was my result:

A set of circumstances or attributes characterizing a person or thing at a given time in, with, or by the conscious or unconscious together as a unit full of or having a specific ability or capacity in a manner relating to, dealing with, or capable of making the distinction between right and wrong in conduct, or an inclination to move or act in a particular direction or way, having the state or quality of being strong in moral strength, self-discipline, or fortitude, or the act or process of volition for, or consideration, attention, or concern full of fond or tender feeling for, or the quality, state, or instance of being faithful to, those persons or ideals that one is under obligation to defend or support, or the condition, quality or state of being worthy of trust, or a strongly felt fond or tender feeling to a creature or creatures of or characteristic of a person or persons, that lives or exists, or is assumed to do so, particularly as separated or marked off by differences from that which is conceived, spoken of, or referred to as existing as an individual entity, or from any living organism inferior in rank, dignity, or authority, typically capable of moving about but not of making its own food by photosynthesis.

Isn't it romantic?