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Fake Lao Tzu Quote

"Love is a decision..."

Fake Lao Tzu quote: Love is a decision - not an emotion.

This is NOT a quote from Tao Te Ching:


"Love is a decision - not an emotion."






Lao Tzu did not discuss love much, and nothing about the amorous love between two persons suggested by this quote. In my version of Tao Te Ching, the word "love" is used only twice, and none of them is about love in the conventional sense. In chapter 13 it refers to caring for the world as much as for oneself:


He who loves his body as much as the world
Can be entrusted with the world.



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       In chapter 17 it is about the people's feelings towards their ruler:


The supreme rulers are hardly known by their subjects.
The lesser are loved and praised.
The even lesser are feared.
The least are despised.


       The idea to regard love as a decision more than an emotion is from the psychoanalyst and sociologist Erich Fromm (1900-1980) in his book The Art of Loving from 1956. He wrote about a love that is committed and intended to last (page 56):


To love somebody is not just a strong feeling - it is a decision, it is a judgment, it is a promise. If love were only a feeling, there would be no basis for the promise to love each other forever. A feeling comes and it may go. How can I judge that it will stay forever, when my act does not involve judgment and decision?


       In later literature it has been shortened to the quote discussed here. The earliest example of this I have found is in The Healing Energies of Music from 1983, by Hal Lingerman. He paraphrased Fromm, naming The Art of Loving as his source. Later books with this quote mention neither Fromm nor anyone else as the source.

       Also on the Internet the quote started to appear years ago, without any accreditation. Around the year 2013 the reference to Lao Tzu started to appear, mainly in memes. In July that year, the quote got its first like on Goodreads, where it was also accredited to Lao Tzu.

       My guess is that the accreditation to Lao Tzu happened rather haphazardly. The quote was around years before, and somewhere along the way it was starting to get linked to Lao Tzu, just to set a fancy name to it.

Stefan Stenudd
September 17, 2020.



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The Taoism of Lao Tzu Explained. The great Taoist philosophy classic by Lao Tzu translated, and each of the 81 chapters extensively commented. Click the image to see the book at Amazon.

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The Ancient Wisdom of the Tao Te Ching by Lao Tzu. 389 quotes from the foremost Taoist classic, divided into 51 prominent topics. Click the image to see the book at Amazon.

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Fake Lao Tzu Quotes - Erroneous Tao Te Ching Citations Examined. Book by Stefan Stenudd. Fake Lao Tzu Quotes

Erroneous Tao Te Ching Citations Examined. 90 of the most spread false Lao Tzu quotes, why they are false and where they are really from. Click the image to see the book at Amazon.

       More about the book here.



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