Romanticism and Multilayer Perceptron

“…I mean it is truly unbelievable looking in context of world history because the notion that we will not only be married, but happily married only roughly dates back to around middle of the eighteenth century. Until then, you tolerated your partner for sake of domestic concerns and children. You did not expect to love them. A very new idea was born in the middle of the eighteenth century that historians call Romanticism. And we are all the heirs of romanticism.

The way that human beings love is very context and society dependent. You know there is a lovely quote by Rochefoucauld, ‘There are some people who would never have fallen in love if they had not heard there was such a thing.’ Slightly too cynical, but really what this is alerting us to is that the way we love is very dependent on our societies. And nowadays, we love romantically. We are all the heirs of romanticism.

Romanticism is a very particular ideology and it’s worth just running through some of its dominant features. Romanticism tells us that all of us have a soul mate out there and it’s our task to identify the soul mate. When we meet the soul mate, we will feel a very special feeling and a kind of instinctive attraction to this person and we will know they are our destiny. We might be in a bar, a nightclub, or on a flight, we will have that special feeling. That’s terrific and so everyone around us will have that special feeling and then they’ll get married and have children. And if you don’t have a special feeling you get very worried, you go on tinder and match.com, and you are always ready for special feeling. And the good thing about finding a soul mate is that when we eventually find the soul mate, we will never be lonely again. All of us, everything that we are will be perfectly understood by another human being. It will mean the definitive end of any sense of alienation and loneliness. All our feelings, our hopes will be confirmed by another person so it’s really terrific news.

The other thing about romanticism is that generally the people who invented romanticism didn’t have jobs or they only worked a little bit. So romanticism is very tied up with long summer barmy afternoons, walks in nature, a lot of emphasis on waterfalls, and large water expanses. And also that moment dusk is very important for romantics, that moment when the sun’s beams are light up the underside of the clouds turning them a pink hue. Very special kind of feelings for romantics. The other thing that romantics very much believe in is that love and sex go together. So previously people obviously had sex and had been in love. They didn’t necessarily always see them as entirely joined. But romantics believe that sex is the ultimate expression of love which is why in the 19th century adultery becomes a tragedy.

As you have gathered from my tone, I’m not an unalloyed fan of Romanticism. I believe that it has caused us immense trouble. In fact, I believe that romanticism is the single greatest enemy we face for love and that if we are to learn how to love better in the future, we must give up a lot of the feelings that got us into the sort of relationships that romanticism points us towards.

Now what is so wrong with romanticism? Why the cynicism? Well let’s start with a few points. One of the first things that’s troublesome is that unlike what romanticism tells us, we are not pure, kind, loving being simply on the lookout for a soul mate. We are deeply dangerous and most of us are on the edge of insanity. This is not an exception. It’s just what it means to be human. All of us are only just holding it together. We are dangerous to be around. We have all sorts of impulses, feelings, desires which make us great trouble to be around. The only people we can think of as normal are people we just met. Once we’ve met them a little bit more, we will soon realize that they are not normal. So in other words, we are trouble to be around and we are little bit crazy. This is compounded by the fact that anyone we are likely to get together with is also going to be crazy. And they won’t be able to tell us how they’re crazy, their craziness will be an intimate part of their own biography, which we won’t be able to get to by the normal kind of questions that we get addressed at a dinner date.” ( — Alain de Botton)

I believe I have given proper, though not complete, exposition for romanticism. So, let me try to conclude by addressing the title. Love is a process. It has evolved through the hundreds of thousands of years and is still going through same. The idea of romantic love does indeed sound divine — a soul mate for everything, for all of our life. Romanticism does show us that we can have the best of our life, we can get the heavenly joys with our partner. It shows us all the alluring things that can be achieved in a relationship. Same thing goes for multilayer perceptrons(MLPs), the artificial neural networks with one or more hidden layers. The MLPs can approximate continuous functions to arbitrary accuracies on compact subsets of finite dimensions. Romanticism and neural nets indicate us that we can achieve best of the possible results, but they are both similar in a way that they do not show how to achieve those best results.