Neighbor 1: I was jumping up and down with excitement. I felt like I am back in high school sitting through one of those mathematics classes that seemed to last for ages. I haven’t seen him for weeks. It was the longest time we have been deprived of each other’s company since we started dating. During that time, I couldn’t stop thinking about him. We have spoken on the phone and texted a lot, and now, finally, we are going to be reunited. I felt jittery. I paced around the apartment and called friends to distract myself. I arranged and rearranged my books and dishes in the cabinets to try to pass time. I started to walk to the restaurant where we have planned to meet. I replayed my favorite romantic moments with him over the past months and years. The late nights, the conversations, the moments together, laughing for no reason, deep discussions over dinner. I lived the cliché that people think is unrealistic, but I think nobody has been in love like this.
Neighbor 2: This relationship seems too perfect!
N1: Others said this relationship does not work. They say I don’t spend time with them anymore. Others worry that it is moving too fast. Others say that he is a bad person. I am convinced they are all just jealous and bitter. They cannot understand my incredible bond. I don’t listen to any of them. What do they know? I love his face, his body, his cool, relaxed way of living. It does not matter what anybody says, I will follow him anywhere. I want to do everything he wants to do. I felt more powerful with him by my side than I have ever felt before. So, I arrived at the restaurant. I was way too early, but who cares. I could not stop imagining those first glorious seconds when we will be reunited. My heartbeat was fast. I dressed nicely, nothing can shake my confidence. And then, finally, I saw him. He didn’t look happy. He looks tired and angry. He said, “It is not you, it is me. I need some time for myself right now.” The language of breaking up, I guess.
N2: Just like that? This is weird. Why did he say that?
N1: What was supposed to be a romantic comedy has turned into a tragedy. The people around me, the audience at the restaurant, looked embarrassed, too. Others eyes me with sympathy. My boyfriend, I guess now ex-boyfriend, decided to leave me a the table. He just stood up and walked away. I was completely crushed. I still hoped this was a joke and that he will come back but this just made it worse. I realized he is never coming back. It was sad and confusing. I am still devastated.
N2: I believe you were and still are. This is crazy and seems so unreal.
N1: I felt like the last few months of my life have been some elaborate, nasty trick. How could he have changed his mind so quickly? He was so loving, so nice! I didn’t want to call my family or friends because they would have told me they were right all along. I don’t know what to do or what to think anymore. I just want a glass of red wine and some solid philosophy to help me calm down. So I called you.
N2: A while ago, I read this amazing book “When you Kant Figure It Out, Ask a Philosopher” by Marie Robert. Relationships and marriages are a huge riddle to me, too though. But I usually have red wine and can tell you what Immanuel Kant would say about this. While reading the book I understood that Kant probably wasn’t too familiar with the trials of love because his life was pretty drama-free. I read that all he did was meditate and teach. Nothing, no crushes or breakups or any other matters of love, got in the way of his intellectual life. His existence was centered on reason and how to best make use of it. You know what though? You can draw inspiration from this way of thinking to heal your broken heart and protect it from the next romantic crisis.
N1: Go on. This makes sense!
N2: Kant defined reason as everything that comes from reflection and not from lived experience. This means that we don’t need to be confronted by something. We don’t need to live it, touch it, and feel it to be able to think about it. Reason is a beacon of light, a tool that gives us the power to analyze, to zoom out, to reflect and to better understand situations and react to them in calm, reasonable ways. Passion is a feeling that no amount of rational thought or reaction can control. Reason has no power over passion. According to Kant, passion is not simply an emotion but a disease of the soul. This passion that flares up when we start to fall in love which makes us crazy. We then hope and wait to idealize everything. Our reason crumbles when this fever spikes and we cannot think clearly. We are removed from reality and make sometimes pretty dumb decisions. To Kant, the idea of doing anything to separate ourselves from our reason is inconceivable. Kant explains in Anthropology from a Pragmatic Point of View all the risks we take when we yield to passion.
N1: Wow, this is interesting. What is the connection between passion and immortality?
N2: According to Kant, passion prevents all reflection. When we are in love, we lose the ability to hear the reasonable voice in our head or the advice of our parents and friends. I think it is like we lose our ability to compare, measure, choose, confront, or question anything because we are caught in a storm of feelings. Sometimes we count the minutes until we see our beloved the next time and whenever we are not with the person we love, we feel lost and fragile. According to Kant, moral law’s only base is reason. In a nutshell, I think this means that before we do something, we should ask ourselves if the act we are about to perform will be good for everyone involved.
N1: I can follow. But how do I do this?
N2: I guess we need to be able to put our reason to work more. We cannot just listen to our heart beating like crazy when someone kisses us and says they love us. Simply because reason and morality go hand in hand. If we lose track of one, we cannot expect to keep the other.
N1: Yeah, yeah, yeah… but that’s not all. I was completely overtaken by a passion for this ass****, unable to reason and to take a step back from situations that I know are not good for me. I was so attached to him and not able to rationally think it through.
N2: I understand. I have been there, too. Passion made me a slave to something that was outside myself. Kant explains that when we are consumed by passion for another person, we are letting ourselves be cheated by a feeling that is not based on anything stable. Kind of like, once the honeymoon phase is over and the relationship starts to feel normal, the passion falls away. Kant does not say we should be eternally single but draws a distinction between passion and love, which is very comforting. He says that passion is unhealthy and ephemeral. But love is real. So, I guess a person who loves another person can stay clear-sighted and can support their feelings of love with free will instead of just imagined, perfect ideas.
N1: Does this mean, real love is less turbulent and more solid than passion?
N2: I think so. It is time to stop being controlled by passion. Dry your tears, gather your strength and stop expecting your life to be the plotline of a romance movie. Strive for love. For me, this makes the journey more beautiful, longer-lasting, and stronger than any fleeting infatuation.