What Is Love
Hello, my friend! I am Plato from Athens, Socrates’ pupil, and Aristotle’s teacher.
In my writings, I brought up the topics like the universe essence, justice, soul. Indeed, it was impossible not to get into such an eternal concept as love.
Have you ever found the word “love” confusing? So short but so hard to clarify.
In modern society, the perception of love mainly equals romance. Also, people use it so often that they lose the sense of significance coded within these four letters.
All cultures faced that issue and created a solution in one way or another.
We, Ancient Greeks, understood the complexity of love, so we divided the meaning between several words. Each meant to reflect one of the many faces of one colossal phenomenon.
For me, all love aims at the beauty and good that live in everything that surrounds us. In people, vocation, or God.
In my “Symposium” I captured the idea of love as a ladder: it is not a goal or result but a way up that includes hundreds of rungs.
It is something needed to be experienced in a complex, ascending from one aspect to another to cognize all the manifestations of love.
In this journey, I encourage you to go up the ladder from the most self-oriented to the most sublime form of love. From Eros to Agape.
But before you take the first step, let me explain why climbing this ladder is necessary for every individual.
Even though people mainly use “love” in the romantic context, there is greater depth to it.
Seeking love and happiness, we aim for one but so many: warmth, passion, kindred spirit, acceptance, and joy.
It’s a pity to reduce such a comprehensive phenomenon to just one thing like passion or tenderness. Our soul has room for all expressions of love.
Friendship, romance, family — every aspect fills its part of the soul like pieces of a mosaic. When put together, life becomes whole and happiness possible.
The Greek words for love don’t define the “right” way to experience it. They unite a set of characteristics that help us understand and find their presence in our lives.
Let me introduce you to the most important definitions:
The most emotion-driven and selfish type of love. Love on purpose, which is necessary for body and soul-satisfying. Eros can give but only to receive.
What do you love because it satisfies your needs first and foremost? For example, “I love my partner because it makes me feel desired.”
Affection without suffering, Philia speaks of joy, companionship, and trust. Primarily associated with friendship and can only exist as a process between you and other(s).
Compared to Eros, this type of love concentrates on “our happiness” rather than “my happiness.”
Reflect on your connections with the close ones. Are they based on goodwill and fondness by both sides? Can your relationships fit the description of Philia?
The description of this form is “devotion.” When you feel Storge, you want to care and stay close, loving quietly.
Storge is mainly associated with blood relatives, but nowadays, we are free to choose people we want to call “family.” What is it for you? To whom do you feel natural closeness and obligation?
Self-love, self-acceptance, and self-improvement.
This type of love is the last stage before the highest form because to love someone unconditionally, you need to love yourself first.
Philautia reminds you to regard your own interests to never get lost in feelings to others.
In which way can you take care of yourself? For example, fix your sleeping schedule or delete your social media apps for a while.
Self-acceptance also means being in charge of your life and future. Imagine your existence as a project and yourself as to its chief.
What can you do to make the project successful and worthy?
The noblest and the purest love of all. This form of love is unconditional, unilateral, and completely selfless.
Agape rises from the best parts of the human soul. Divine and faithful, it gives it all while seeking nothing in return.
Do you have something or someone you love regardless?
Greetings on the other side of knowledge! I hope I succeeded in expanding your perception of love or, at least, making it more transparent.
Like all typologies, Greek words for love are not strictly and perfect. One type can flow into another and evolve but can’t be replaced. Quite possible that one person can embody all the forms of love for you.
I gave you the idea of each type of love. Now, start creating forms for them!
Love is not something we possess but what we have to create, the process in between. In the next lesson, set foot on the first rung of the ladder of love - Eros.