Why Be Romantic

Romantic Beliefs Scale … [from] four beliefs: … Love Finds a Way, One & Only, Idealization, & Love at First Sight. Men were generally more romantic than women, & femininity was a stronger predictor of romanticism than was masculinity. (more)

Classical understanding is rational, scientific, unemotional, cerebral, and technologically savvy. … A romantic, oppositely, is intuitive, emotional, creative, and artistically inclined. He is more concerned with immediate appearances than underlying forms—he values aesthetics over utility. (more)

Romanticism was characterized by its emphasis on emotion and individualism, idealization of nature, suspicion of science and industrialization, and glorification of the past with a strong preference for the medieval rather than the classical. It was partly a reaction to the Industrial Revolution, the social and political norms of the Age of Enlightenment, and the scientific rationalization of nature—all components of modernity. It was embodied most strongly in the visual arts, music, and literature, … emphasized intense emotion as an authentic source of aesthetic experience, placing new emphasis on such emotions as fear, horror and terror, and awe — especially that experienced in confronting the new aesthetic categories of the sublime and beauty of nature. It elevated folk art and ancient custom to something noble, but also spontaneity as a desirable characteristic. (more)

Regarding mating, a romantic embraces their immediate strong hopeful feelings re particular partners and the mating process. A realist might warn against such embraces, suggesting that the guy you are with might not be so great for you, or care so much about you, and warning against future consequences of excess trust. But the romantic is less willing to embrace abstract thought or analysis regarding the consequences of following their feelings.

Outside of mating relations, a romantic tends to embrace immediate strong feelings regarding other things, and resists abstract analysis contrary to such feelings. So, for example, if their immediate feelings say that we help people via a min wage or rent control, or via their fav feel-good charity, they resist abstract analysis to the contrary. If their immediate feelings say that some human enhancement is an abomination against natural/God, or say either to trust, or not trust, foreigners, depending on the framing, then they are inclined to just stick with such initial judgments.

I can see three kinds of situations where this stance makes sense. First, when your priority is to show loyalty to associates who have limited ability or inclination to attend to abstract analysis, then you can want to stick with your initial feelings on topics to a similar extent as you expect from them. Hesitating or reasoning abstractly may be taken by them as an excuse to evade your initial feelings, or to hide the fact that they were other than they should have been.

Second, you might not be very good at abstract analysis, at least relative to distrusted parties who might try to trick you with misleading analysis, and you might not trust the systems of analysis they use. Wary of such misleading guidance, you might want to just stick with your initial feelings. Or you might see your initial feelings so reliable that there’s little point in considering more. Or you might think the topic of so little importance that it is worth little more consideration.

Third, you might want to hold fast to your motivations. Often the world is so eager to be and seem practical and reasonable that we suppress our contrary feelings and then lose track of what we care about. Even in areas of art where there might seem to be no reason not to fully embrace our feelings, we often find reasons to want our art to seem more reasonable. We can then go through the motions of doing stuff without really know how or if it matters to us. You might avoid this if you hold fast to your strong feelings and act on them. Overturning the inclinations of your feelings based on abstract analysis risks your suppressing and eventually losing your grip on those feelings.

One puzzle about romanticism is why the recent past tends to seem the most romantic. For example, objects and stories intended to evoke romantic feelings often try to evoke our few-generations-previous past. Perhaps this is because we naturally have strong feelings toward our “elders”, i.e., our parents, teachers, and mentors, and toward the worlds toward which they had strong feelings. Maybe we embrace our attachment to their worlds as a way hold and show loyalty to these elders.

Also, compared to the future and the more distant past, this few-gen-past has the most available detail on which we can become attached and anchor. So the romanticism puzzle is really limited to comparing that few-gen-past past to the present and its more recent past.

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