19 Mar If we knew in advance the worst that war could do to us, that knowledge would be an effective deterrent (LOU MARINOFF)
Hobbes held that if we knew in advance the worst that war could do to us, that knowledge would be an effective deterrent. He was writing specifically about civil war, as opposed to international war, because he felt that closeness gives a greater potential to wound.
You may be your own worst enemy, but next in line is the person you share an intimate relationship with. Living with someone gives you a lot of information about how to make that person unhappy. Your partner knows right where your soft underbelly is exposed. If people knew the emotional, legal, and financial devastation of divorce ahead of time, they might vindicate Hobbes’s theory of deterrence by staying together. The painful upheaval that accompanies the end of most love relationships is perhaps the best reason for working hard to maintain a healthy, happy relationship. Sometimes those efforts fail or are futile no matter how sincerely and consistently they are undertaken, so we’ll dis-cuss ending relationships in the next chapter.
Socrates might have been taking into account the ability of those closest to us to hurt us the most, as well as love us the best, when he formulated his symmetric ethic: you have a capacity to do a certain amount of good, which is always accompanied by the ability to do a similar amount of evil. The more passion people have, the more they can attract or repel each other. Think of Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton. Married twice and divorced three times from each other, they alternated between extremes of attraction and repulsion. When traveling together, they had to rent additional hotel rooms surrounding the one they were staying in and keep them vacant because their quarrels were audible through the walls. They couldn’t quite extricate them-selves from the relationship even when they tried. They may have been “made for each other,” but their attraction came twinned with repulsion. The opposite of passionate love is not hatred; it is indifference. Even if you are really in love, and even if the feeling is mutual, you still aren’t guaranteed happiness. If you want to avoid painful endings, you’ll have to use your power in a relationship wisely and keep up the necessary maintenance.
PLATO, NOT PROZAC