photo neededIn human chemistry, Henry Finck (1854-1926) was an American philosopher noted for his 1887 Romantic Love and Personal Beauty, wherein he cites and discusses a number of physical, materialism, chemicalism philosophies on love, by thinkers including: Goethe, Ludwig Buchner, Shakespeare, Empedocles, Schopenhauer, Burton, Judah Leo, among others.

Goethe | Chemical affinities
Finck, in his discussion of Goethe's chemical affinity, applied in the context of love, attempts to disprove the human chemical theory by citing the definition of a "compound" from Watt’s Dictionary of Chemistry, where after Finck concludes:

“Chemical affinities cannot be used as analogies of love.”

Finck, in this context discusses German physician Ludwig Buchner’s 1855 views on how the atoms and molecules act just as men and women attract one another. [1]

Cosmic Attraction and Chemical Affinities
The following is Finck’s interesting section on what seems to be a short history of social gravitation theories and human chemical affinity theories:

Before we proceed to prove all these assertions in detail, it will be well to cast a brief glance at the analogies to human Love presented by cosmic, chemical, and vegetal phenomena; as well as to distinguish romantic love from other forms of human and animal affection. This will enable us to comprehend more clearly what modern love is, by making apparent what it is not. It is a favorite device of poets to invest plants and even inanimate objects with human thoughts and feelings. The parched, withering flower, tormented by the pangs of thirst, implores the passing cloud for a few drops of the vital fluid; and the cloud, moved to pity at sight of the suffering beauty, sheds its welcome, soothing tears.

"And 'tis my faith, that every flower
Enjoys the air it breathes."
William Wordsworth (c.1790)

"The moon shines bright: in such a night as this,
When the sweet wind did gently kiss the trees,
And they did make no noise."

'' Purple the sails, and so perfumed that
The winds were love-sick with them."

One of the first authors who thus endowed nonhuman objects with human feelings was the Greek philosopher Empedocles, who flourished about twenty-three centuries ago. Just as the last of the great German metaphysicians, Schopenhauer, believed that all the forces of nature—astronomic, chemical, biological, etc.—are identical with the human will, of which they represent different stages of development or "objectivation," so Empedocles insisted that the two ruling passions of the human soul, love and hate, are the two principles which pervade and rule the whole universe. In the primitive condition of things, he taught, the four elements, earth, water, air, and fire are mingled harmoniously, and love rules supreme. Then hate intervenes and produces individual, separate forms. Plants are developed, and after them animals, or rather, at first, only single organs—detached eyes, arms, hands, etc. Then love reasserts its force and unites these separate organs into complete animals. Strange monstrosities are the result of some of these unions—animals of double sex, human heads on the bodies of oxen, or horned heads on the bodies of men. These, however, perish, while others, which are congruous and adapted to their surroundings, survive and multiply.

Thus Empedocles, "the Greek Darwin," was the originator of a theory of evolution based on the alternate predominance of cosmic love and hate; love being the attractive, hate the repulsive force.

In the preface to the first volume of Don Quixote, Cervantes refers those who wish to acquire some information concerning love to an Italian treatise by Judah Leo. The full title of the book, which appeared in Rome in the sixteenth century, is Dialoghi di amore, Composti da Leone Medico, di nayione Ebreo, e di poi fatto cristiano [Dialogues of Love, composed by Doctor Leon, of Hebrew heritage, and who later became Christian]. There are said to be three French translations of it, but it was only after long searching that I succeeded in finding a copy, at the Bibliotheque Nationale in Paris. It proved to be a strange medley of astrology, metaphysics, theology, classical erudition, mythology, and medieval science. Burton, in the chapter on love, in his Anatomy of Melancholy, quotes freely from this work of Leo, whom he names as one of about twenty-five authors who wrote treatises on love in ancient and medieval times.

Like Empedocles, Leo identifies cosmic attraction with love. But he points out three degrees of love—natural, sensible, and rational. By natural love he means those "sympathies" which attract a stone to the earth, make rivers flow to the sea, keep the sun, moon, and stars in their courses, etc. Burton (1652) agrees with Leo, and asks quaintly:

"How comes a loadstone to draw iron to it . . . the ground to covet showers, but for love? . . . no stock, no stone, that has not some feeling of love. 'Tis more eminent in Plants, Herbs, and is especially observed in vegetals; as betwixt the Vine and Elm a great sympathy,"

"Sensible" Love is that which prevails among animals. In it Leon recognises the higher elements of delight in one another's company, and of attachment to a master.
"Rational" Love, the third and highest class, is peculiar to God, angels, and men.

But the inclination to confound gravitation and other natural forces with Love is not to be found among ancient and mediaeval authors alone. Paradoxical as it may seem, it is the "gross materialist," Dr. Ludwig Buchner, who exclaims rapturously: "For it is love, in the form of attraction, which chains stone to stone, earth to earth, star to star, and which Cosmic Attraction and Chemical Affinities holds together the mighty edifice on which we stand, and on the surface of which, like parasites, we carry on our existence, barely noticeable in the infinite universe; and on which we shall continue to exist till that distant period when its component parts will again be resolved into that primal chaos from which it laboriously severed itself millions of years ago, and became a separate planet."

Buchner carries on this anthropopathic process a step farther, by including all the chemical affinities of atoms and molecules as manifestations of love: "Just as man and woman attract one another, so oxygen attracts hydrogen, and, in loving union with it, forms water, that mighty omnipresent element, without which no life nor thought would be possible." And again: "Potassium and phosphorus entertain such a violent passion for oxygen that even under water they burn-—i.e. unite themselves with the beloved object."

Goethe's novel, Elective Affinities, which was inspired by a late and hopeless passion of its author, is based on this chemical notion that no physical obstacle can separate two souls that are united by an amorous affinity. But the practical outcome of his theory—that the psychic affinity of two persons suffices to impress the characteristics of both on the offspring of one of them—has nothing to support it in medical experience; while the chemical' analogy, with all due deference to Goethe's reputation as a man of science, is against his view. His notion was that the children of two souls loving one another will inherit their characteristics. But what distinguishes a chemical compound (based on "affinity ") from a mere physical mixture, is precisely the contrary fact that the compound does not in any respect resemble the parental elements! Read what a specialist says in Watts's Dictionary of Chemistry:

"Definite chemical compounds generally differ altogether in physical properties from their components. Thus, with regard to colour, yellow sulphur and gray mercury produce red cinnabar; purple iodine and gray potassium yield colourless iodide of potassium. . . . The density of a compound is very rarely an exact mean between that of its constituents, being generally higher, and in a few cases lower; and the taste, smell, refracting power, fusibility, volatility, conducting power for heat and electricity, and other physical properties, are not for the most part such as would result from mere mixture of their constituents."

Chemical affinities, accordingly, cannot be used as analogies of Love. Not even on account of the violent individual preference shown by two elements for one another, for this apparently individual preference is really only generic. A piece of phosphorus will as readily unite with one cubic foot of oxygen as with another; whereas it is the very essence of Love that it demands a union with one particular individual, and no other.

Equally unsatisfactory are all similar attempts to identify Love with gravitation or other forms of cosmic attraction. Here is what a great expert in Love has to say on this subject: "The attraction of love, I find," writes Burns, "is in inverse proportion to the attraction of the Newtonian philosophy. In the system of Sir Isaac, the nearer objects are to one another, the stronger is the attractive force. In my system, every milestone that marked my progress from Clarinda awakened a keener pang of attachment to her."

How beautifully, in other respects, does the law of gravitation simulate the methods of Love! Does not the meteor which passionately falls on this planet and digs a deep hole into it, show its love in this manner, even as that affectionate bear who smashed his master's forehead in order to kill the fly on it? Does not the avalanche which thunders down the mountain-side and buries a whole forest and several villages, afford another touching illustration of the love of attraction, or cosmic Love ? — a crushing argument in its favour? Or the frigid glacier, in its slower course, does it not lacerate the sides of the valley, and strew about its precious boulders, merely by way of illustrating the amorous effect of gravitation? And millions of years hence, will not this same law of attraction enable the sun to prove his ecstatic love for our earth by swallowing her up and reducing her to her primitive chaotic state? Imagine a man and a woman whose love consists in this, that they must be kept widely separated by a hostile force to prevent them from dashing together, and reducing each other to atoms and molecules! That is the "love" of the stars and planets.

But it is needless to continue this reductio ad absurdum of pantheistic or panerotic vagaries. The method of the writers on Love here quoted—Empedokles, Leo, Burton, Buchner — has been to identify Love with cosmic force simply because they possess in common the one quality of attraction, by virtue of which the large earth hugs a small stone, and a large man a small maiden. Modern scientific psychology objects to this (z.e. not the hugging, but the method), because it does not in the least aid us in understanding the nature of Love; and because it is as irrational to call attraction Love as it would be to call a brick a house, a leaf a tree, or a green daub a rainbow. For Love embraces every colour in the spectrum of human emotion.

Having failed to find a satisfactory solution of the mystery of Love in the inorganic world, let us now see if the vegetable kingdom offers no better analogies in its sexual phenomena.

(add discussion)

Finck graduated from Harvard in circa 1876, having studied philosophy, the classics, and music.

1. Finck, Henry. (1887). Romantic Love and Personal Beauty: Their Development, Causal Relations, Historic and National Peculiarities (section: Cosmic Attraction and Chemical Affinities, pgs 4-9). MacMillan.

External links
‚óŹ Henry Theophilus Finck – Wikipedia.

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