If other people must always and to some extent only ever be ideas to any of us, how can those ideas ever love us back without the whole thing devolving into intricate games of haunted, hollow and narcissistic self-deception? What, in essence, is the meta-ethical solution here? Is there one? I suspect there is, but it is logically subtle and radically counter-intuitive.
We do not share identity, experience or essence beyond those consensus conceptual vocabularies with which we attempt to communicate. We do not share the specific instances of emotional lack or the unique cognitive blindspot that define the existential vacuum within us all and yet it is precisely this absence of closure that we do share.
This is not so much a proof by negation as it is a suggestion that this absence that inadvertently unites us all is much more significant than we might ever have imagined. No, our ideas can not love us back but it is in precisely the persistence of a shared experience of enigma that we find the potential (if never actual or present) manifestation of existential and emotional closure.
The one thing we all share is the absence of Self that Other implies but that also embodies the kernel seed upon which even the possibility of self is grounded. We can never love or be loved by that which exists beyond our mental experience but neither can anyone else.
This absence and constructive epistemological (as much as, perhaps, metaphysical, even – spiritual) vacuum is both the absence of love and the possibility of it. Love is possible precisely because it isn’t and for this reason our assertion of innate human value and compassion as primary components of and motivations for our actions is justifiable. It is built upon an emptiness that is as irreducible as it is generative.