Some want more than mere appearances… they want reality. I have no idea what reality is, or even is supposed to signify. All that I know is appearance, and all that I ever care about is appearance. What difference exists between “it appears so” and “it is so”? “It appears she loves me” vs “she loves me”. What’s the difference? People use the former when there exist rational grounds for doubting “she loves me”. What can those grounds be? They are either appearance, or intellectual. If they are appearance, then “she loves me” is equivalent to “it appears that she loves me” and we have found no real distinction. If they are intellectual then they are empty… for how can I intellectually determine what is the case in the world? Intellectually I can determine possibility… sure it’s possible she doesn’t love me, but that is no rational ground for doubt. It’s either raining or it’s not raining… a true proposition, but vacuous since by knowing it I still know nothing about how the world happens to be.
I cannot talk of things beyond the possibility of my experience of them… A reality which transcends my condition means nothing to me. As such I live my life as if reality doesn’t exist, although this does not rule out the possibility of its existence. I do not know whether there is a reality beyond appearances or if there is no reality and only appearance. All I can say is that for me there is only appearance, and hence I must suspend judgement regarding the existence or non-existence of reality. How many problems wouldn’t be solved if people settled for appearance instead of reality? “It appears he loves me” would be satisfying… no lover would neurotically search for a reality that cannot be found, no one would imprison themselves in the tangles of self-made anxieties, no girl would be left crying, alone in her bed, doubting whether the man who appears to love her really loves her… The previous situation is indeed no different than a man looking at his hand and saying “What if this hand which appears here isn’t real? What if I am a brain-in-a-vat?” Groundless doubting does not change the appearances. She can go on groundlessly doubting, but will it ever change the fact that it appears he loves her?
I am often asked about love. Is true love eternal? What is it that makes love “true” or not? True to what? What is the criteria by which I decide the truth of love? Is the criteria an appearance, or is it real? We have just established that reality cannot be known, therefore the criteria must be an appearance. So how can love be true, when the very criteria to which I judge its truth or falsity is itself merely an appearance? I shall judge an appearance by another appearance; how can truth be determined from within appearances? If the first appearance requires another appearance to make it true, doesn’t it follow that the latter appearance needs another one to make it true, and so on ad infinitum? So by no means can I decide if love is true or not… that is why people often play around with it. This man tells her (his current girlfriend) “Oh I didn’t really love her” or he tells his friend “Actually I did really love her” referring to his ex… It appears that he too knows not whether his love was true or not, but instead of suspending judgement, and admitting “I don’t know, but it appeared so” he prefers a manipulative dishonesty… fostering belief in a knowable reality beyond appearances is a useful tool for controlling others.
So rephrasing… is love eternal? The answer is simple here… it doesn’t have to be, but that doesn’t rule out that it could be. The more interesting question to me is rather “what makes love eternal?”, and here the answer is equally evident to me… The characters of the two lovers. A virtuous character leads to virtuous actions which promote well-being and joy. Well-being and joy promote the indefinite continuation of their love. The even more interesting question is “what makes two people love each other?”. The first answer is contingency (time). I cannot love Cleopatra, and neither can she love me because we don’t co-exist. Further, a girl whose already a girlfriend cannot love me assuming she has already met someone else whom she loves because that love prevents her from loving me (or at least makes it more difficult). But for a girl who has no current commitments, loving me is a real possibility. What is needed to actualise this possibility? A matching between our characters, which translates in mutually reinforcing actions: what she does builds on my actions, and what I do builds on her actions. Love is a mutually reinforcing circle, which holds in virtue of the two characters.