Love Theoretically

Laurence Sterne, Tristram Shandy (3.36):

Now, because I have once or twice said, in my inconsiderate way of talking, That I was confident the following memoirs of my uncle Toby’s courtship of widow Wadman, whenever I got time to write them, would turn out one of the most complete systems, both of the elementary and practical part of love and love-making, that ever was addressed to the world—are you to imagine from thence, that I shall set out with a description of what love is? whether part God and part Devil, as Plotinus will have it—

—Or by a more critical equation, and supposing the whole of love to be as ten—to determine with Ficinus, ‘How many parts of it—the one,—and how many the other;’—or whether it is all of it one great Devil, from head to tail, as Plato has taken upon him to pronounce; concerning which conceit of his, I shall not offer my opinion:—but my opinion of Plato is this; that he appears, from this instance, to have been a man of much the same temper and way of reasoning with doctor Baynyard, who being a great enemy to blisters, as imagining that half a dozen of ’em at once, would draw a man as surely to his grave, as a herse and six—rashly concluded, that the Devil himself was nothing in the world, but one great bouncing Cantharidis.—

I have nothing to say to people who allow themselves this monstrous liberty in arguing, but what Nazianzen cried out (that is, polemically) to Philagrius—

‘εὖγε!’ O rare! ’tis fine reasoning, Sir indeed!—’ ὅτι φιλοσοφεῖς ἐν Πάθεσι’ and most nobly do you aim at truth, when you philosophize about it in your moods and passions.

 

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