A systemic theory of Love (and God)

Notes of an empirical investigation

Teodoro Criscione
10 min readFeb 23, 2021

Stars, planets, and asteroids

Every person has his/her own sky. The difference between stars, planets, and asteroids is mainly given by two factors: mass and energy production. The mass is directly related to the attractive force between two bodies — i.e. attractive force F = G(m m )/R², where G is gravitational constant, m is the mass, and R is the distance. Energy production is expressed as light and heat. The stars have the biggest mass and the most active energy production. The planets have an inferior mass and very low internal energy production. The asteroids, usually, do not even have any internal activity.

Since our first day in our life, we have been looking around us for stars and planets to orientate ourselves and find our own way in this life. Our sky is partially inherited by our ancestors and our native environment, but most of it is constantly changing. In the deepest corners of our consciousness, we are constantly trying to answer a fundamental existential question: ‘who am I?’. The only answer we found is a sky made of Others.

The mass (m) is the emotional entanglement with the Other. The bigger is the mass, the more is the emotional involvement in that relation. The resulting energy of the body (E=mc²) is given by its ‘desirability’ — that is, the answer to the question ‘who I wanna be?’. To answer this question we need an emotional entanglement (m) inspired by such body and the related rational elaboration of that desire() — from the Latin etymology ‘de-sidere’ — ‘from the stars’.

Who am I?

This unsolvable question is based on two fundamental mysteries.
The first mystery is the ‘uniqueness of the individual sky’ — i.e. no one else can see my sky. Which can be summarised by the following questions: ‘are we looking at the same sky? If yes, do you see a star, a planet, or an asteroid? If you know the answer, tell me, how big and warm is it for you?’. The second mystery is given by the ‘uniqueness of individual existence’ — i.e. there are no identical life beings. Which can be summarised by the following questions: ‘which kind of entity am I for you? If I am into your sky, am I one of your stars, planets, or an asteroid?’.

The Impossible Answer

The first limit we face by trying to answer such questions is the nature of human language. There is a deep unsolvable source of misunderstanding when humans try to communicate. Even getting rid of the uncountable number of cognitive biases entailed by human communication, we need to admit that we cannot efficiently communicate emotions and feelings. Since childhood, humans should have been trained every day for the entire life to improve their empathic capabilities. But as animal species, we are very far from that.

The second limit we face by trying to answer such existential questions is related to human evolution — that is, ‘where are we going?’ and ‘where am I going?’. Randomness, path-dependency, and narratives play key roles in building up the temporal path of human dynamics. There is always an unpredictable, uncontrollable, and chaotic aspect that is moving the stars upon us — i.e. black holes. Human evolution is a non-linear, stochastic, and complex process. Nothing is certain. Everything can happen. This is true, both individually and collectively. Major and minor changes can move the sky upon us: new bodies can come in, old bodies can die out, or more interestingly, in the same corner where there was an asteroid now we can observe a star or a planet, and vice versa. Everything is moving, and everything is connecting above our heads.

The Dark Night

This is one of the most terrifying difficulties of the human condition, his/her existential blindness. We move like blind people in the dark, we don’t know who we are, we don’t know where we are going, and we are struggling to communicate. The only thing which could help us is our empathy — which is the ability to feel, share, and understand the feelings of another. But how many of us are able to use it? How many of us are trying to train and improve such ability? In our society, any kind of power is based on the rejection of empathy and takes decisions based on abstract subjective interpretations of reality. In this dimension, there are only two things objectively and universally valid: the laws of nature and our emotions.

Hermit, Tarots

This existential blindness is indeed related to the Lacanian concept of ‘non-existence of sexual relationship’. Generalizing that concept, any human relationship which is not based on empathic communication is a non-relationship, but a mild and sometimes misleading interaction. This is reflected in sexual intercourses as well.

How are we to deal with the anxiety-provoking encounter of this Other’s desire? The question is: Qui voi? — What do you want of me? The fantasm provides an answer to the enigma of the Other’s desire. Again, it teaches us how to desire. The fantasm does not mean that, when I desire a lemon crèpe and cannot get it, I fantasize about eating it; the problem is rather, how do I know that I desire a lemon crèpe in the first place? This is what the fantasy tells me. This role of the fantasm hinges on the deadlock of our sexuality designated by Lacan in his paradoxical statement “there is no sexual relationship”. That is, there is no universal guarantee of a harmonious sexual relationship with one’s partner. (Source)

Lovers I & II, Magritte (1928)

From a Lacanian perspective, the nature of the human desire is twofold, ‘desire as Other’s desire’ and ‘desire as a desire of Other’ — where the Other is not only a person but also as a symbolic place. The ‘desire as Other’s desire’ means that by desiring humans are constantly looking for social recognition. In other words, the evolutionary tension which builds our own personality is always based on these attractive forces towards Others (e.g. Stars) and the feedback we receive by trying to reach them — i.e. desire of being desired by the Other, desire to be acknowledged by the Other. The ‘desire as a desire of Other’ means that behind any human desire there is always a will of going beyond oneself. The evolutionary tension of human beings is this unceasing desire for transcendence. A deep tension towards the unknown, the unexplored, and the mystery. This is the most fascinating and mysterious aspect of the nature of human desire — also called as ‘utopic’ dimension of the desire, which describes the impossibility to be fully and long-lasting satisfied even by getting the desired object.

[Do you really care about me? Or are you just using my body to satisfy your fantasies? — Would we be brave enough to let us diving into our eyes? Would we just hug without questions If we feel it’s time for it? — Would you cry with me if I wanna cry? Would you laugh with me if I wanna laugh? — Would you be able to put aside your egoistic needs and follow our common desire of Union? — Did you already accept who you are? Or are you still struggling to find your stars? — Are you aware of yourself (and your own sky)? Or are you still struggling to accept yourself? — Do I feel enough safe and secure during the act to freely express myself with the Other?]

The Dance in the Sky

The sky is therefore the reflection of our soul, every element on it is a mirror of our consciousness. As written before, the mystery of human evolution is leading to the mystery of events — such as meetings between people. In this chaotic dance, bodies create ‘connections’ — from Latin, ‘joining together’ — which are also called ‘synchronicities’. In other words, one body becomes an element in the sky of another body.

The evolution of a ‘connection’ is called ‘relation’ — from Latin, ‘bringing back, restoring’ — and such a process is called ‘human bonding’. The ‘relation’ is not just the introduction of an element in the sky map (‘connection’), but also the restoration of something which has been lost by the observer —e.g. the pure enjoyment for Lacan, the ‘kingdom of heaven’, ‘memory of God’, ‘Nirvana’, the experience of ‘unicity’ or ‘Great Opera’, etc. The ‘relation’ entails more than an attractive force, but also a meaningful exchange of energy — i.e. projection of desires onto each other. For this reason, only stars and planets can have a ‘relation’.

It is very unlikely to have an isolated dyadic ‘relation’ between two bodies, but it is very likely to observe simplicial graphical structures and network motifs where the ‘dyadic relation’ is embedded into. In other words, we could derive two axioms: 1. Individuality is not definable out of the sky where it is embedded (non-existence of absolute individuality); 2. The relation between individuals is not definable out of the sky where it is embedded (non-existence of absolute dyadic relation). We may need to understand the sky of a person in order to see him/her how he/she really is. The sky is not necessarily corresponding to the ego network — i.e. social networks of the actor, but also all the introjected figures captured as reference bodies, either imaginary and/or not. In Lacanian psychoanalysis, the belief to be ‘absolutely’ what we think we are could be associated with psychosis. Moreover, the absolute’ relationship could be linked to erotomania and fetishism as two deviances from the ‘pure enjoyment’ — the belief to be ‘absolutely’ in the relation we think we are in.

The Illusion of Tango

Given the previous axioms, we can distinguish three main types of illusionary absolute dyadic relations. I call them ‘illusionary’ because in this space-time dimension they are represented as two bodies getting closer, physically and emotionally. However, as explained before, such two bodies bring with them two different and noncommunicable galaxies. The dichotomy Planet/Star is indeed a simplification of a more complex interaction between two bodies that cannot be entirely reduced into a body-body interaction. A continuous scale from Planet-Planet to Star-Star could be a more realistic approximation, but surely not exhaustive. However, I imagined such a scale because it can genuinely represent different dimensions of a dyadic relationship, according to their maximum level of empathic communication which can be expressed by the members— i.e. emotional entanglement (mass) and desirability (energy flow). For example, a very low one-side empathic communication is an expression of one-side dominance; a very low two-side empathic communication is an expression of two-side power relation.

[ How do I feel with you? A star or a planet? — How do you feel when you stay with me? A star or a planet? ]

a. Planet-Planet. Very low empathic communication; no inspiration. This is the most common expression of traditional romantic relationships and/or non-close friendships. There is no relevant exchange of energy, but a mild dance of two dying bodies. A Planet may decide to follow another Planet by renouncing to follow a Star, giving up on their desires, and thus, surviving by warming up to each other. The size and the orbits of the Planets will define the level of co-dependency. We could observe some dynamics of ‘delegation’ and ‘subordination’ of the Free Choice. This may lead to the collision (existential collapse) and identity annihilation of one or both bodies.

b. Star-Planet. Sclerotic empathic communication; one-side inspiration. The Planet is looking for a Star. The Planet uses the energy of the Star to feel alive and/or as an opportunity for soul-searching. A Planet without a Star would just cool down and die out — e.g. depression. The Planet may risk delegating the decision of a life trajectory to the Star. In case of collision (existential collapse), only the Star can survive maintaining its shape. The Planet is attracted to the Star because it represents a different version of itself. The evolutionary tension of the Planet towards the Star is made of both an attractive force and a desire. The sclerotic communication is due to an existential crisis of one or both of them: the Planet wishes to be the Star and it is not sure of its identity anymore, the Star feels uncomfortable and tries to second the Planet by acting as it wants (merely as a Planet).

c. Star-Star. Two-side empathic communication is possible; reciprocal inspiration. This is the rarest, most beautiful, and dangerous formation. The collision (existential collapse) of two Stars could create either a Supernova or a Black Hole. The attraction and the repulsion of Stars write the history of humankind. The dance of Stars is a delicate equilibrium of distances, masses, and energies. If two Stars recognize each other as extremely desirable, the attempt to build a durable ‘relation’ could be very powerful. In a delicate binary system, the temptation to lose itself in the desire of the Other accelerates the inside burning and the spreading of energy. You cannot ignore the existence of Stars upon your head unless you are not totally devoted to only another Star — and so forget about the rest of the sky, which is a condition that in the long run can force one or both Stars to reduce their activity and live like Planets. As for the Star-Planet relation, the attraction towards a Star is a projection of a different version of ourselves. The Star is not necessarily meant to be reached, but it enlights our way and we stare at it in order to orientate ourselves in this life.


The ‘impossible answer’ maybe is the result of a malposed question. Instead of asking ‘who am I?’, maybe we should ask ‘how far can I see?’. The more intense is the perception of my reality, the farther I can see, the bigger is my mass (emotion), the farther can go my energy (desire), the more the self-realization is not endangered or delegated to someone else. The farther I can see, the more I am on the way to self-realization, the more benefits I can bring into reality. This is the intent of the Star. The self-contemplation of God. The systemic theory of Love could be one of the possible ontologies of God, which is both its essence (Spirit) and its emerging property as a complex system.

Freely inspired by dp Filosofia Applicata and Massimo Recalcati.



Teodoro Criscione

Ph.D. student in Network and Data Science (Central European University). Junior Researcher at Freiburg Institute For Basic Income Studies (Freiburg University).