I would like to point to the dependence of love on knowledge (analysing Maimonides' Code, Book of Adoration, Repentance 10:6):

"according to the knowledge will be the love."

Originally I had intended on rephrasing that as:

Love is a function of knowledge.

Compare Random House Dictionary (1967), function, 3rd definition:

  1. a factor related to or dependent upon other factors: Price is a function of supply and demand.

But that creates an ambiguity, as if I were saying that:

Knowledge does things, performs certain functions--one of them being love.

And that's definitely not my intention. How do I disambuiguize "a function of"?

PS Ngram Viewer seems ot indicate that usage of the phrase peaked at around 1960, and has significantly dropped since then. I welcome alternatives that would accurately convey my intention.


The expression "Y is a function of X" is well known and understood in mathematics. Outside this field, you might want to use something else.

Even in mathematics, "Love is a function of knowledge" is ambiguous: it does not say what kind of function it is. "The amount of love is directly proportional to the amount of knowledge" would be more true to the original.

In "plain" English one might express this as:

The more knowledge, the more love.


In the mathematical sense, to say that love is a function of knowledge means that you could define the x-axis of a Cartesian coordinate system as "knowledge" and the y-axis as "love". The value of love depends on the value of x. It appears to me that you have misunderstood the definition which you then quote. The example says that the value of "Price" depends on, or is a function of, "supply and demand". It does not illustrate the meaning of function as "performing an action". I see no ambiguity in "Love is a function of knowledge."

  • But why should this definition of 'a function of' be assumed? The original seems far from mathematical in register. – Edwin Ashworth Feb 16 '17 at 14:03
  • Maimonides indeed intends a form of "mathematical" function. A fuller quote reads: "It is known and certain that the love of God does not become closely knit in a man's heart till he is continuously and thoroughly possesed by it... One only loves God with the knowledge with which one knows Him. According to the knowledge will be the love. If the former be little or much, so will the latter be little or much. A person ought therefore to devote himself to the understanding and comprehension..." – Mike Feb 16 '17 at 14:10

To say that love is a function of knowledge does not imply that knowledge produces love, only that you cannot get to feeling love without going through a process of building knowledge about the love object.

That is why a teen crush has little value—it is based on a fantasy of the beloved rather than learning about the full person.

As a medical doctor and lover of reason (and of God), Maimonides naturally gravitated toward tangible learning. He would not have thought that God is great, God is good without knowing why that might be true.

Even the title translation, Book of Adoration (for Mishneh Torah), starts at learning (mishneh) and becomes love (adoration).

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