Tuesday, 10 February 2015 19:00

4. Loving and liking

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“Our reason is forced to arrange the means according to the goals”, says Simone Weil in one of her small aphorisms. On the other hand, “love should not make any difference”, she continues, “we should love the act of sweeping as well as the cleaned room afterwards”.

This little piece of wisdom may appear rather common nowadays. Most of us have learned in some seminar that we should care about process as well as about aims – even though I bet that in reality most people keep on struggling for some aim in the future, instead of being aware of the present. This, at least, happened to me: Every attempt to sweep without anger hopelessly failed. I wanted my home clean, but I didn’t like cleaning. The more I tried to sweep with consciousness, the angrier I got – eventually disliking even myself for being so terribly unspiritual.

But Simone Weil would not have been the unique Simone Weil if she hadn’t offered a much more surprising thought. Should you love sweeping as well as the cleaned room? Yes! “But this does not necessarily mean that you should also be pleased by it”, she says. Simone Weil invites us to contemplate in a very deep sense about love. Not in an abstract way, not in a theoretical sense. You have to experience it. You will see that to love and to like/dislike belong to quite different dimensions of life.

We often dislike not only jobs but persons, too, even our wife, our husband; or at least some of their characteristics. You don’t like his boasting, her showing-off, his lack of ambition, her way of laughing too loudly, his meanness, her untidiness – you are not pleased with this and not pleased with that. You may even be sometimes ashamed of his or her behavior. You are completely right. You don’t have to be pleased with boasting or meanness. You don’t have to like hysterical laughter or his/her making a mess. All you have to do is return into the mode of love every time you don’t like your partner’s faults. The narrow viewpoint of like or dislike will then diminish, or even disappear. And sometimes – if you don’t expect it at all – you will recognize that she/he is, miraculously, no longer so mean, so chaotic, so vulgar or so lazy as you considered him/her. Or maybe it just doesn’t matter anymore? Try it out!

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Michele Zese

I am a Swiss philosophical practitioner, I completed a three-year training with Gerd B. Achenbach, and am a member of the Swiss association philopraxis.ch. Among other things, I teach ethics to social pedagogues and organize philosophical walks. Above all, I am interested in philosophical contemplation and exercises for everyday life, and am currently writing a book on this subject.

For more information, please see www.aretepraxis.ch