A "family" in the sense of two parents devotedly raising common offspring over a long period is not unique to humans. It can be observed in many birds, voles, some monkeys, and more. But the intensity of feeling that occurs with family life reaches its peak in humans. Of all the many stormy feelings, the most prominent are those that are involved in the first steps of the family process: falling in love, selecting the partner with whom we will embark on the long journey of raising a family. Falling in love is, in many cases, an inexplicable experience. Who can speak rationally of its sensuous, dazzling, sweeping, overflowing nature? And yet, let us try to understand it in the spirit of this book, as an evolutionary product selected for its contribution to reproduction.
Falling in love is a dramatic component of mate selection. When we seek a mate, we look around, opening our eyes up wide. As opposed to other creatures, who open their nostrils to sniff, we open our eyes to gaze. And our eyes are drawn, as if by magic, to beauty. We strongly respond to beauty.
Moral edicts teach us to ignore beauty and instead to defend different values: "Look not on the jar, but on its contents." That is morality's way, to insist on the very issues that our hearts most hanker for; it stands in the breach of our sweeping impulses. Indeed, beauty catches our hearts, dazzles our eyes, and overrides our judgment, so that in lieu of it we tend to ignore the importance of wisdom, diligence, kindness, and other merits.
As a sworn-in Darwinist, I believe that if beauty has the power to awaken such yearning in us, then evolution selected and perfected this sensitivity as