Before drawing parallels between the two ideas, let see what the Bentham’s utilitarian theory proposes. At the crux of it, there’s good which gives pleasure and there is bad which gives you pain, humans when left by themselves, always does things which give them pleasure and acts only in their self-interest. When there is a conflict of interest, the job of an adjudicator is to strike a balance between public and personal interests.

So what does love has to do with this theory? allow me to set the stage, Alain de Botton suggests that the knack of our species lies in our capacity to transmit our accumulated knowledge down the generations. Even the slowest among us can, in a few hours, pick up ideas that it took a few rare geniuses a lifetime to acquire. The problem is that we selectively choose what is being passed down the generations and we’re even more choosy in consuming the accumulated knowledge. The sad part is that there is a relatively greater emphasis on STEM subjects than emotional ones.

To put sum it up, there is a greater emphasis on how the next generation is going to cope up with the digital age and how the set technological benchmark could be further pushed whereas on the emotional side, it is always assumed that the emotional capacity is innate or “taught at home” — we’re left alone to fend for ourselves — loosely said, each generation is to discover and learn from scratch.

So what does commercialized thought process which is also emotionally lacking could give us? — pseudo-love. Let me elucidate it further, When we say we “love” someone or something, we don’t love them but love what he/she/it has to offer. Years back identifying myself as a dog-lover, I brought home a Labrador — Max, little did I know that I was up for a nightmare, I sold myself that I “love” dogs just by watching few videos on how they respond when you pet them. Within a couple of days, things went haywire, it was time that I realized neither me nor my household was ready for this. It was time that I realized that he deserves a better place and needs to be given away. He was gone the next week. Isn’t this true of us in a broader sense? we say we “love” someone for the things they do which pleases us, if they don’t do anything you’d be indifferent and eventually if they do something which inst pleasant, you flip. — pseudo-love. Personally, retrospectively looking back at people whom I thought I loved, looks like I didn’t after all.

A unidirectional and unconditional love is a utopic ideal, how is it practical one might ask. It may or may not be, but there’s a stark difference between what we thought we were doing and what we were doing. I’d like to leave you with what Benjamin Franklin had to say on attaining perfection — I never arrived at the perfection I had been so ambitious of obtaining, but fell far short of it, yet I was, by the endeavour, a better and a happier man than I otherwise should have been if I had not attempted it; as those who aim at perfect writing by imitating the engraved copies, tho’ they never reach the wish’d-for excellence of those copies, their hand is mended by the endeavor, and is tolerable while it continues fair and legible.