“…mothers love more than fathers do.” Aristotle, Nichomachean Ethics
I couldn’t decide whether this assertion made me angry. To be fair, from the context it is clear that Aristotle is speaking of love for infants.
I thought of my own experience. The days that each of my children were born stand out from all other days of my life. Finally to meet the person that we had been awaiting for months; to hold that precious treasure in my own hands; to see flesh of my flesh, the fruit of the love I share with my wife. How could Aristotle say such a thing about fathers?
Then I thought about it a little more. There is no image more precious to me than that of my wife holding our newborn child. They look into one another’s eyes. This is a sacred moment, unrepeatable and irreplaceable. This is the welcome that my child most awaits, most needs. This is the moment when my child first starts to see herself for who she is. In that gaze of her mother.
But why not in my eyes? I think the simple truth is this: in the child’s infancy, the mother is most able to see–to see the child for who she is. And greater insight means greater love. I do not immediately have such a deep connection with the child, nor such an intuitive sense of her personhood. We fathers often stand more at a distance; we also tend to objectivize. To be honest, I think sometimes we can be more in love with the idea of our child, than with the reality, which we have yet to come to know. To mothers, on the other hand, this baby is this baby; and it is nothing but beautiful.
Indeed, in this way they surely see things clearly–they see the child as the person she is, undistracted by accidentals. Therein, mothers excel. In this, as in so many things, I have much to learn from my wife.
I think this should not make me angry, but grateful. Most of all for our children’s sake.
Aristotle (384-322 B.C.), student of Plato, tutor of Alexander the Great, has been considered by many to be the greatest ancient philosopher.
Image: La Mere (The Mother), by Elizabeth Nourse, 1888.
YOU MAY ALSO LIKE:
“Man’s ability to see is in decline. Those who nowadays concern themselves with culture and education will experience this fact again and again. We do not mean here, of course, the physiological sensitivity of the human eye. We mean here the spiritual capacity to...read more
“Man is the only animal nature has endowed with the gift of speech.” Aristotle, Politics It is estimated that almost a quarter of American homes have a voice-enabled ‘smart speaker,’ and experts predict that over half of households will within a few years. The lion’s...read more
“For not to go only, but to enter there, was naught else but to will to go, but to will it resolutely and thoroughly; not to stagger and sway about this way and that, a changeable and half-wounded will, wrestling, with one part falling as another rose. The mind...read more
Husband, father, and professor of Philosophy. Bacon from Acorns springs from one conviction: there is an ancient wisdom about how to live the good life in our homes, with our families; and it is worth our time to hearken to it. Let’s rediscover it together. Learn more.