I'm not sure if I'm allowed to ask this qestion. But here it is:

These young people have grown up with sociable robot pets, the companions of their playrooms, which portrayed emotion, said they cared, and asked to be cared for. We are psychologically programmed not only to nurture what we love but to love what we nurture. So even simple artificial creatures can provoke heartfelt attachment. Many teenagers anticipate that the robot toys of their childhood will give way to full-fledged machine companions. In the psychoanalytic tradition. a symptom addresses a conflict but distracts us from understanding or resolving it; a dream expresses a wish. Sociable robots serve as both symptom and dream: as a symptom, they promise a way to sidestep conflicts about intimacy; as a dream, they express a wish for relationships with limits, a way to be both together and alone.

  1. What does it mean when she says, "...not only to nurture what we love but to love what we nurture?"

  2. What is the conflict about intimacy?

  • We not only seek to foster the well-being of those for whom we feel an emotional attachment; the act of tending to the needs of another can create such an attachment, and that can happen even if the "creature" who is being tended to is not human, and not an animal, but a mechanical thing that is unable to feel emotion or to reciprocate. The robot toys are not unlike the talking dolls of yesteryear. Despite the artifice, people do tend to feel emotions for such things when people act as if they are not things at all, but creatures who are capable of emotion. Pretending has real consequences.
    – TimR
    Mar 7, 2015 at 21:45

1 Answer 1

  1. Nurture: "care for and encourage the growth or development of". The point is that not only do we provide care for (nurture) the things we love, such as infants and pets, but to some degree we also come to love the things we nurture. The classic example would be a pet which we buy without any particular emotional attachment, but then become deeply bonded with.

  2. The article is speaking about the general "conflicts of intimacy" which many people show. Many wish intensely for intimacy while at the same time fearing the vulnerability and responsibility which it entails.

  • Do you mean that we somehow unconsiously develop a kind of emotional attachment to things that we nurture? Second, do you mean that the "conflict" refers to the phenomena that people dislike being isolated yet abhor the idea of taking responsibility to other people and think that people are hard to satisfy and they are imperfect and thus relationships in reality is easy to break up?
    – pxc3110
    Mar 5, 2015 at 17:33
  • 1
    To your first: Yes, and not just "a kind of emotional attachement". "Emotional attachment", period. Not everyone, and not in every case, but in general yes. To your second, the fears, desires and conflicts of people vary from person to person. Your "phenomena" is only one of a wide range of possible situations. Mar 5, 2015 at 18:38
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    For #1, I would add that the original quote employs parallelism, which can often make the language more memorable, convincing, and pleasing to the ear. The author could have easily said something like, "We are programmed to nurture what we love, and we also develop feelings of affection for those things we take care of," but that's not nearly as catchy or well-balanced.
    – J.R.
    Mar 6, 2015 at 10:19

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