A Trailblazing Mathematician on Jealousy and the Metaphysics of Love

10.04.17

Love and jealousy often exist simultaneously.

If we love someone and we see them loving someone else, we feel jealous.

If someone loves us but we give our attention to a different outlet, they feel jealous.

And so it goes hand in hand.

The more we deny jealousy or try to suppress it, the stronger it becomes. However when we befriend it or accept it as natural, then it often fades away. At least, that was what trailblazing French mathematician Émilie du Châtelet (1706–1749) explored in a letter to one of her lovers, in her book Selected Philosophical and Scientific Writings. 

Here are a few beautiful exerts that I found.

Emilie_du_Châtelet_par_Largillière

“There is much difference between jealousy and the fear of not being loved enough: one can brave the one when one feels that one does not merit it, but one cannot help being touched and distressed by the other.”

“Jealousy is an annoying feeling, and the fear of it a delicate anxiety, against which there are fewer weapons and fewer remedies, other than to go and be happy… There, in truth, is the metaphysics of love, and this is where the excess of this passion leads. All this appears to me as the clearest and most natural thing in the world.”

“It is the privilege of affection to see a friend in all the situations of his soul. I love you sad, gay, lively, blocked; I want my friendly feelings to add to your pleasures and diminish your troubles, and I want to share them.”

“To be happy, one must rid oneself of prejudice, be virtuous, healthy, and have a capacity for enjoyment and for passion.”