Where happiness and love meet

By Melissa DiPietrantonio
February 13, 2003

Alaina Robinson

Many people think love equals happiness, but sometimes that simply is not the case. There are two courses Cabrini College offers dealing with love and happiness.

The Philosophy of Love

This semester, Harvey Lape, a philosophy teacher, is teaching the popular course entitled Love. This course explores the different meanings of love throughout history beginning with the ancient Greeks.

The ancient Greeks believed that love reaches its highest level when two good people are in love because they inspire each other to be good.

The people from the middle ages believed in the idea of courtly love. During those times, marriages were generally arranged in the middle and upper classes. Romantic love was said to have been a threat to marriage.

Today, we try to make romantic love the basis of relationships, and not always is this successful. Romantic love is difficult to maintain for a long period of time even though it offers an easy way to get into a relationship.

According to Lape, “If marriage is based on romantic love, what happens when it fades? You then have to reinvent the relationship or end it. Therefore, it’s probably no accident that if marriage is based on romantic love, you have a rising need for ways of ending it: divorce. ”

Another aspect of today’s definition of love is that people actually seek psychological treatment for it, as if it is an addiction.

The Sociology of Happiness

Psychologists and sociologists are usually known for helping people with their problems, but recently some of these medical professionals have decided to study happiness, rather than things like mental illness, divorce or depression.

There are many factors they have studied in relation to happiness. They examine things such as income, gender and education, as well as others things to find out how each aspect effects human happiness.

Dr. Kathleen McKinley, a sociology teacher, and the head of the department, is currently teaching an honors course dedicated to exploring the sociology of happiness.

Students in this class survey the meaning of happiness. Thus far, the class has analyzed data collected for the General Social Survey and found that in 2000 men and women did not differ in happiness and people who are more trusting of others are generally happier.

Two students in the happiness course chose to conduct a study on romantic relationships and happiness. According to McKinley, “In class, they mentioned that romantic relationships can bring pain and misery and we should not just assume that people who are involved romantically are perfectly happy.”

Freshman Erin Shemar said, “You can be happy without love, but being in love with someone and knowing they love you back just makes everything so much better.”

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Melissa DiPietrantonio

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