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"Love, friendship, respect, admiration are the emotional response of one man to the virtues of another, the spiritual payment given in exchange for the personal, selfish pleasure which one man derives from the virtues of another man’s character. "

What virtue does a newborn baby have?

I can apply this concept to adults fairly easily. I'm really struggling with small children.

asked Dec 21 '11 at 03:57

Humbug's gravatar image


edited Dec 21 '11 at 03:57

"Man is a being of self-made soul."

A man's soul is, essentially, his character.

A baby, as such, hasn't spent much time developing his character. It's only after several years that common virtues and vices become evident in a child, and, even once they do start becoming apparent, one must always keep in mind that any given child has not had a huge amount of observations on which to form his personal choices. So, even if a child starts out somewhat aggressive, that doesn't mean he's inherently vicious -- he's experimenting and learning all the time; finding out about the world, and the people in it.

The proper role of a parent is to teach the child about the world so that he can make good choices.

Given this, the question is: why love a child?

The first thing to know is that loving a child is not a duty. If you don't have children, you have no obligation to care for another person's child. So, the question then, is: why love your own child?

I'm not a parent, but I suspect the best person to ask is a rational parent. Many people have children simply because everybody else does it. That's not a love of children. That's a love of fitting in.

As a non-parent, though, I can see the draw of watching and of helping a child struggle to learn, and to succeed. Most healthy children are endlessly curious and experimental, and I suspect this is what makes parents want to have kids: to see the joy of discovery in a young person's eyes, and perhaps to see the world anew, vicariously.

Most certainly, this curious, daring, experimental nature of children is seen as a virtue by a rational parent. This nature is probably also present in very young babies, though of course their lack of physical strength and dexterity limits their ability to express the curiosity. They just look around very intently.

This passionate desire to know on the part of children is, in essence, the virtue of rationality, which is the fundamental virtue. A child's soul is, generally, an uncompromised, uncorrupted, active mind.

That's worthy of love.

answered Dec 21 '11 at 22:08

John%20Paquette's gravatar image

John Paquette ♦

edited Dec 21 '11 at 22:12


I agree wholeheartedly. I see this in children, and it gives me great joy. It is like looking in a mirror, and having the most joyful, innocent, life-loving parts of you reflected back.

Of course, I must confess, I do not see this as much in the new-born infant. As for that, I think it is more the potential value I see in them that forms the basis for love. (might be something biological going on too?)

(Dec 21 '11 at 22:53) ericmaughan43 ♦ ericmaughan43's gravatar image

I've had very little experience with infants. I know they are a lot of work, without a lot of immediate payback.

(Dec 21 '11 at 23:31) John Paquette ♦ John%20Paquette's gravatar image

I agree with the assessment that the most likely reason is to grow the child into an achieving adult. I suppose this is why parents who "care" can sometime becomes highly controlling of their kids. Since their own self-esteem is wrapped up in the achievements of the child, they take on a lot of actions to "ensure" that their child turn out well.

What about the warm fuzzies that you get when you hug an infant? I suppose warm fuzzies aren't the same as love but....is that the same warm fuzzies that you get when you hug a cat?

(Dec 22 '11 at 00:36) Humbug Humbug's gravatar image

I saw a program about how the over-sized head and eyes of infants (and small animals too) cause physiological responses in adults that promote attachment and protective tendencies. Of course, usually the "biological basis for love" people are full of crap, so I take it with a grain of salt. And the release of some chemicals in you is not the same as love. But that doesn't mean that there can't be something there, and it sure seems to explain why we find certain things to be so cute.

(Dec 22 '11 at 10:41) ericmaughan43 ♦ ericmaughan43's gravatar image

The more I think about it, the more I lean toward:

  1. I love my children because they're MINE.
  2. I feel compassion toward other people's children because they are weak (not by choice).
  3. I can feel some admiration toward other people's children when I see them excited living and learning about the world.
  4. I can also love my children more if I were to project into the future about their potentiality.
(May 27 '12 at 11:07) Humbug Humbug's gravatar image

1 seems a mistake. I don't love my trash, and it's mine. I get rid of it.

Love is not a result of ownership. Ownership is a result of love. Perhaps, then, you love your children because of all the time you've already put into taking care of them. They then constitute an investment which you want to keep and take care of.

4 is pretty good. I'd say that we work on or care for things which are not immediately pleasant because of our view of what they might become.

(May 28 '12 at 13:09) John Paquette ♦ John%20Paquette's gravatar image

We are what we are as a result of evolutionary development. One essential in that is the strong desire to protect and love one's progeny (i.e., genetic offspring). As Humbug says, above, "I love my children because they're MINE." Another way to put is might be to say "they're ME." Children are lovable and desirable entities. However, the connection between a parent and the parent's offspring is much more. However, because we are humans and capable of going beyond our evolutionary development, we can transfer that same love to an adopted child and (sadly) can pervert it into abusing our child

(May 28 '12 at 18:55) ethwc ♦ ethwc's gravatar image
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Asked: Dec 21 '11 at 03:57

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Last updated: May 28 '12 at 18:55