Abstract and Keywords
Rituals, symbols, art forms, and narratives devoted to celebrating and reflecting upon the meanings of romantic love have existed throughout time and across cultural spaces. Deciphering those meanings concerns semiotics, the science of interpretation. This chapter deals with the meanings of love as they present themselves in diverse representational forms across the world in order to understand what they tell us about love as a universal emotional phenomenon. The practices, symbols, and cultural texts derived from the feelings evoked by romantic love suggest, clearly, that it is more than a reaction to sexual instincts and urges. This is perhaps why love-based traditions have brought about social revolutions and have had effects on how we have evolved psychologically and culturally. The actual biological source of love remains a mystery, but we can unravel its raison d’être somewhat by understanding why it is so meaningful for all of us.
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