The Definition of Love

The concept of love has been studied extensively throughout history, with Greek philosophers identifying six different forms of love.

Love is a small word with a vast connection to people and things around the world. It can be directed towards a person, an action, or even something that is hated. The word is versatile and has a flexible concept.

But what exactly is love? According to science, love is an emotion that is triggered by the release of certain hormones and the activation of specific regions of the brain, such as the hippocampus. However, hopeless romantics, poets, and philosophers have pondered and studied love since the beginning of humanity.

The result of all this study is the knowledge that there are many different kinds of love. Ancient Greek philosophers identified six forms of love, including Agápe, the highest form of love, which is often associated with divine love. Éros is the love of romance and intimacy, while Philia is the love shared between friends.

Aristotle defined Philia as the love shared between friends, particularly in three specific types of friendships based on usefulness, pleasure, or virtue.

The concept of philia can be categorized into three different forms. The first form is a superficial kind of relationship that occurs in mundane situations, such as buying something from someone. While it may not be considered a friendship, it is more like an acquaintance. The second form is closer to our expectations of philia. It is about taking pleasure in the company of others, whether it’s having a drink together, sharing mutual hobbies, or doing something pleasurable with another person. The final form is the highest form of philia and is the love shared between brothers and true friends. It’s a type of love where you appreciate the other person’s character, not just their fun-loving personality.

Storge is a natural form of love that is developed as an instinct, especially between family members. It’s the kind of love that a mother feels towards her child even before it’s born, and it holds families together, no matter what the world throws at them. Storge is almost exclusively experienced between family members, but it can also be found amongst the closest of friends. As a friendship grows, the love becomes closer to philia, but as friends become closer and start caring for each other in an instinctual way, it can develop into storgic love, where friends feel like family.

Philautia is the love one holds for oneself, as well as looking after one’s own happiness or well-being. It wasn’t always considered a highly valued form of love and was once considered a moral flaw. People who practiced philautia were viewed as vain, selfish, and egotistical. However, over time, it has gained a better reputation and understanding. Nowadays, self-love is considered vitally important for mental health, and it’s acceptable to take a day off just to look after oneself.

Xenia is a form of love that stems from hospitality. It’s less a type of love and more a general guideline to follow in order to be hospitable to all who pass by your home. It’s one of the oldest and most deep-rooted forms of love found all over the world.

Despite being from different parts of the world, cultures have similarities in their understanding of Xenia.

These similarities revolve around the principle of honoring and providing for all guests who enter one’s home.

Pre-Christian European myths and legends often feature a deity testing hospitality in human form, rewarding those who treat the guest well and punishing those who do not.

Love, on the other hand, is a concept that is difficult to define and has countless interpretations.

John Lennon and Paul McCartney perhaps said it best with their famous line, “Love is all you need.”

FAQ

1. What is the definition of love?

Love is an intense feeling of affection or deep attachment towards someone or something. It is often described as a complex mix of emotions, behaviors, and beliefs that can vary from person to person and culture to culture.

2. How can you tell if you are in love?

Being in love is an individual experience, and everyone may experience it differently. However, some common signs of being in love include feeling a strong emotional connection with someone, wanting to spend time with them, feeling a sense of happiness and calmness when you are together, and being willing to make sacrifices for the other person.

3. Can love fade away over time?

Yes, love can fade over time if it is not nourished and maintained. Relationships require effort and attention to stay healthy and strong. If one or both partners do not invest in the relationship, the love can gradually fade away.

4. Is love a choice or a feeling?

Love can be both a choice and a feeling. Initially, people may feel an attraction or a connection with someone, but choosing to love and commit to them is a decision that requires effort and dedication.

5. How do you know if someone loves you?

There are many signs that someone loves you, including verbal and nonverbal cues. Verbal cues may include saying “I love you” or expressing affection. Nonverbal cues may include physical touch, eye contact, and body language that shows they are attentive and caring towards you.

6. Can love be unconditional?

Yes, love can be unconditional. Unconditional love is often described as a selfless and forgiving love that is not based on receiving something in return. It is a love that accepts a person for who they are, flaws and all, and is committed to supporting them through thick and thin.

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