As a post-Valentine’s Day offering I would like to share an interesting tidbit about love picked up in my studies of the human being. Most of us through history have come to the awareness of Love as a major component, if not the purpose, for our lives on Earth. From the seat of Western Civilization, ancient Greece, I found three conceptual delineations of the word “love” as it occurred to our philosophical ancestors.
|Glittery, beautiful Eros...|
The one we evoke most often at Valentine’s Day is eros, romantic, physical love. Eros is attraction oriented and appeals to lovers who do not wish to sully the moment with logic. Think Romeo and Juliet, Kermit and Ms. Piggy, and love-at-first-sight. This is magnetic and kinesthetic love. Couples that cannot keep their hands off each other are excellent examples of erotic love.
Though many of us believe we are looking for eros and all the pleasure it brings, more often the love in our lives comes in the form of philia, friendly love. This was a conceptual delineation made by Aristotle to denote “brotherly” love and loyalty toward friends. Our expression of philia is demonstrated through gestures of appreciation, community events and sharing common passions. I would hazard to guess that most people experience philia with co-workers and teammates.
|Team spirit is the essence of philia.|
Beyond the love of one’s neighbor is the higher love, agape. This is godly love, a spiritual connection that has the quality of universal, unconditional positive regard with the connotation of contentment. People who follow a spiritual leader express agape through offerings and acts on behalf of that person. This may be the special love between teachers and students, or parents and children. Many people connect with Nature as the object of agape. In fact agape is an expression of the feeling people have with their pets.
Storge is a fourth word I found when looking up the above Greek words online. This means familial love, or affection. Storge also implies tolerance. Specifically in reference to a parent/child type of love, this is the human energetic that gets some children through puberty alive. Most often in literature storge is depicted as acceptance for a difficult family member. This is a very human sentiment that allows us to continue loving each other despite many flaws and mistakes.
Even if there is no eros in your life now, I hope that the above ideas support you in looking a little deeper into the magnitude of love in your everyday experience. Thanks to all of you who bring the more subtle expressions of agape, philia and storge into the world. I commend you on being an examples of gentle sincerity amid overt demonstrations of eros that are so popular in media today.