In his book Human, All Too Human, Friedrich Nietzsche (1844-1900) has an aphorism entitled Love and Duality which reads:
“What is love but understanding and rejoicing at the fact that another lives, feels, and acts in a way different from and opposite to ours? If love is to bridge these antitheses through joy it may not deny or seek to abolish them. Even self-love presupposes and unblendable duality (or multiplicity) in one person.” (translated by Hollingdale, p. 229)
This loving celebration of difference is rare! So many people want to love what they can control and what they know. Rather than embracing people’s diversity they are disturbed by it and seek to remove it, condemn it, demonize it, etc. And this desire for control and knowledge is often linked to their narcissistic desire to see themselves in the beloved. The more the world doesn’t reflect themselves back to themselves the more the world is loveless.
But Nietzsche is challenging this model. Love doesn’t seek to make the world in its image: just the opposite. It takes one beyond one’s own world view. This, I think, is part of what it means to learn, grow, and experience. And even if we do love ourselves, the selves we come to love are “unblendable” dualities or multiplicities. Thus to love one’s self is to celebrate differences: not just tolerate them. This celebration of unblendable selfhood could then, when projected outward, lead to a healthy celebration of unblendable people in an unblendable society. Such a world would presumably be a world where there are more individuals, more freedom, more diversity, and more novel experiences. It would be a more lovable world.