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Feldman, B. (1964). Stages in the Development of Love. Am. Imago, 21(3-4):64-79.

(1964). American Imago, 21(3-4):64-79

Stages in the Development of Love

Bronson Feldman


Love has been called all kinds of names. With more or less truth, writers of fiction and philosophy have shed a great deal of scattered light on the matter along with a lot of inescapable smoke. Their light partakes of the nature of moonshine, yes. Nevertheless it is light and science could work with it. The necessary beginning for this work was provided by Robert Burton in his medical masterpiece, Anatomy of Melancholy (1621-38). In the first three sections of the Third Partition of his book, Burton collected from poets, theologians, doctors and naturalists, enough observations and opinions to produce “the most elaborate treatise on Love that has ever been written.” William Osier's praise was nobly deserved: “With it there is nothing in literature to be compared.” Scientists, however, except for a handful of gallant solitary enterprisers (headed by Havelock Ellis, Remy de Gourmont, and Wilhelm Bolsche) have chosen not to work with the flashes of inspiration, the uncertain candors of the artists, nor the tedious brooding and sudden shrewdness of the seekers of universal verities.

Seldom have the scientists shown a positive interest in the urgency to investigate the mysterious raw materials of love with their own professional tools. Love does not lend itself easily to measuring and experiment. The lone thinkers who put it under their psychic microscopes and tried to determine its anatomy by the old-fangled methods of examination, comparison and reason, are usually looked on by the colleagues of the laboratories as eccentric speculators, theorizers or mere dreamers, mavericks of science. It has been noticed that they do not exhibit the normal satisfaction of the savant with reducing things to elements, to lowest common denominators, stiffening and classifying and stuffing into systems.


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