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What is love?

Los Angeles (USA) / “Studying love is as important or more important than studying physics,” says Professor Robert Pogue Harrison, who asks “what is the use of understanding the Cosmos if we fail to develop our knowledge of ourselves and our priorities?”

With this idea the School of Humanities and Sciences of the Stanford University of Palo Alto (California) designed the course “What is love?” five years ago.

“It’s a question that everyone at some point in their life are asking, maybe they don’t have an answer, but it has to be made,” says David Lummus, one of the teachers.

What is love?

The curriculum of the course What is love? aims student tries to answer questions such as:

– Is love a spiritual or bodily phenomenon?

– Is it a concept of eternal love or always changing?

– How to think about love leads us to ask other important philosophical and social questions?

The analysis of the love made teachers like Harrison, who is in charge of the course, is the opposite of the commercial load that entails the celebration of Valentine’s Day.

The better half

Over the centuries, romantic love has been the subject of discussion and inspiration for the greatest philosophers, writers and thinkers in the history of Western culture and people celebrating Valentine’s Day should thank Plato for the concept of the soulmate and the search of the “better half”, says Harrison.

While the belief of the other half dates from the fourth century BC, details such as giving flowers have their origins in the courtiers of the twelfth and thirteenth centuries in the south of modern France, where Western lyric poetry was originated.

Harrison believes our ideas about romantic love have evolved very little over time when it comes to the essentials: “We still think that love is ennobling and intimate, a deeply personal form of spiritual transcendence.”

“Most students are surprised that all of these concepts about love and expressions of romance have been inherited and studied by greats like Dante or Shakespeare,” says Harrison.

Other courses on love

“What is love?” is not the only course that Stanford gives on this subject. The Californian university also offers the online course “Love as a force for social justice”.

This course, taught by Professor Anne Firth Murray, seeks to make participants aware of the power of love and the possibility of practising it in everyday life, as well as highlighting the idea of love as a force for social justice. (February 14, 2019, EFE/Practica Español)

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Question 1
En el texto se habla de...  
un curso sobre qué es el amor.
un estudio que explica cómo se enamora una persona.
un curso sobre el origen de la celebración de San Valentín.
Question 2
Según el texto, ese curso...
aún no ha sido impartido por ninguna escuela de una universidad estadounidense.
quizá sea impartido por una escuela de una universidad estadounidense.
es impartido por una escuela de una universidad estadounidense.
Question 3
Sobre el curso se dice que se espera que los estudiantes...  
solo se centren en las grandes historias de amor romántico de la historia.
logren saber qué tipo de fenómeno es el amor.
no reflexionen mucho sobre qué es el amor.
Question 4
Según el texto, Harrison...  
niega que la idea de amor romántico apenas haya evolucionado durante siglos.
cree posible que la idea de amor romántico haya cambiado sustancialmente.
considera que aquello que entendemos por amor romántico apenas ha evolucionado.
Question 5
En el texto se dice que el concepto de 'alma gemela'...
fue creado por un dramaturgo del siglo XVII.
ya fue empleado por el filósofo Platón.
no aparece en un ninguna obra filosófica.
Question 6
En el vídeo se ve...  
una celebración de San Valentín en una piscina.
a unas personas explorando el fondo marino.
a unas parejas que se casan bajo el agua.
Question 7
Según el vídeo, esa ceremonia...  
se celebra después del día de San Valentín.
se hace para tener suerte en el amor.
suele tener lugar por San Valentín.
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