*Similarly, in simply seeing others without ever having an opportunity to get to know them, we cannot reasonably be said to love them. Indeed, in some cases, when we get to know others whom we admire from a distance, we may even come to regard them as downright repulsive!
Nevertheless, some people believe there can be a mystical experience of unity that accompanies the mere sight of the beloved for the first time. Perhaps there is a sense of déjà vu triggered by having known this person in a prior lifetime. Perhaps at first sight your “other half” pulls you toward him like the opposite poles of a magnet. Thus, Plato held the view that, when our souls descended from heaven to earth, they were divided, so that meeting your soul mate for “the first time” in this lifetime was a sort of reunion. Notice, however, that such metaphysical explanations of love at first sight also include some prior direct experience with the person in question. So, even in accepting such explanations, we must concede that love at first sight is not really love at first sight . There is familiarity of sorts; we do not simply see others and then, automatically, love them. There is what Bertrand Russell called, “knowledge by acquaintance.” We are directly acquainted with others in certain ways before we come to love them.
Such acquaintance can be cognitive (what she says to you, and what emotions and attitudes she expresses); auditory (her tone of voice); kinesthetic (the way she moves her body); olfactory (her scent); tactile (how she feels such as in an embrace); and even gustatory (as in the “taste” of the first kiss). This does not mean that all such types of acquaintance are requisite to “love at first sight”; however, this knowledge cannot meaningfully be restricted to the visual perception alone.
Gabriel D Odonkor