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The Will To Love 🖤


Draft Publication Date: May 10, 2022
Author: Joshua Liu


God's covenant with man
“And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth.”

― Genesis 1:28

¶1 The temptation to reduce all human motives down to a ‘Will To Power’ (i.e. "wanting to make an impact", "the drive to create") comes from observations of how the material world seems to have been generated so far. It's then easy to make the jump that this generative force applies us and all of our motives ― and I would agree that this force explains a portion of the interactions we he have with others. We like sex and procreation ― changing the world, competition, making ripples in the ocean ― war games and conquest.

¶2 But I don't think power dynamics explains how I interact with others ― or how people have treated me ― in the majority of situations. My interactions with others (besides when I'm arguing) feel mutual and not zero-sum. Or even disregards entirely the goal of having an output into the world and just have to do with me wanting to do things with people. I don't think that most people that have done nice things to me in the past did so because they wanted something from me..

¶3 Love ― the conjunction of stories ― doesn't fit with the worldview that all motives are done to maximize ones output onto the world or exists within a (perhaps gendered) willingness/willpower, exploited/exploiter, yin/yang dynamic.

¶4 When I hang out with my brother I don't do it because I expect anything in return or to scheme to get anything out of him but because I like being around him and want to have a shared experience with him. I want to see my parents again because they are getting older and I miss seeing them and being with them. I volunteer because I like being happy with the people I work with ― though I still like seeing my work impact the world. I like talking to my teachers not because I want to get connections or do networking but because I felt lonely and like hearing their wisdom. An experience between mentor and protégé.

¶5 Human love ― what a lot of actions seem to be done under ― is a beautiful thing that does not fit nicely into dialectics or power dynamics. By God, no one wants to be alone!

¶6 And maybe this love is what makes monotheistic ethics a worthwhile development from older pantheistic ethics? In monotheism we humans exist as distinct stories of somewhat equal worth ― because an external God just, like, said so ― so we live by an ethical code-of-conduct to respect the other human stories. In pantheism the entire cosmos exists in the same story ― there doesn't exist special rules that we have to abide by when dealing with others.

¶7 If nothing exists outside of the one cosmic story the goal of pantheistic ethics often boils down to having the greatest or ‘fairest say’ in it (though the people who argue for the ‘fairest say’ often inadvertently have to borrow from the monotheistic idea of the existence of the individual) over forming connections with others. In a pantheistic world we are all intertwined ― with even the material ― but from this it follows that there does not necessarily exist entities of equal worth that we have an obligation to respect. Those that want ‘to live in accordance with nature’ often don't ― refuse ― to understand how brutle nauture is without this obligation. The most notable exception being hard-core Nietzscheans who relish in this brutality.

¶8 Nothing separates us from the material in pantheism. Maybe believing in the magical sky fairy in the clouds ― or more generally a platonic dogma of the inherent worth of people ― gives us a special place in the world separated from the soulless ‘things’, ‘stuff’, ‘it’. So that we can be together with others. The ocean is much too painful and lonely to row in alone. Is a life without love worth living?


“A day may come when the courage of men fails, when we forsake our friends and break all bonds of fellowship, but it is not this day."

― Aragorn, The Return Of The King

Copyright © 2022 Joshua Liu.

Notes: Notice that I'm justifying the belief of God though a final cause ― it's a ‘teleology’ argument. This essay was inspired in part by an observation I heard from one of Jordan Peterson's speeches.

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