The Four Loves is a book by C. S. Lewis which explores the nature of love from a Christian and philosophical perspective through thought experiments. The book was based on a set of radio talks from 1958, criticised in the US at the time for their frankness about sex.
Taking his start from St. John's words "God is Love", Lewis initially thought to contrast "Need-love" (such as the love of a child for its mother) and "Gift-love" (epitomized by God's love for humanity), to the disparagement of the former. However he swiftly happened on the insight that the natures of even these basic categorizations of love are more complicated than they at first seemed: a child's need for parental comfort is a necessity, not a selfish indulgence, while conversely parental Gift-love in excessive form can be a perversion of its own.
Lewis continued his examination by exploring the nature of pleasure, distinguishing Need-pleasures (such as water for the thirsty) from Pleasures of Appreciation, such as the love of nature. From the latter, he developed what he called "a third element in love...Appreciative love", to go along with Need-love and Gift-love.
Throughout the rest of the book, Lewis would go on to counterpart that three-fold, qualitative distinction against the four broad types of loves indicated in his title.
In his remaining four chapters, Lewis treats of love under four categories ("the highest does not stand without the lowest"), based in part on the four Greek words for love: affection, friendship, eros, and charity. Lewis states that just as Lucifer (a former archangel) perverted himself by pride and fell into depravity, so too can love—commonly held to be the arch-emotion—become corrupt by presuming itself to be what it is not.
A fictional treatment of these loves is the main theme of Lewis's novel Till We Have Faces.
Storge (storgē, Greek: στοργή) is liking someone through the fondness of familiarity, family members or people who relate in familiar ways that have otherwise found themselves bonded by chance. An example is the natural love and affection of a parent for their child. It is described as the most natural, emotive, and widely diffused of loves: natural in that it is present without coercion; emotive because it is the result of fondness due to familiarity; and most widely diffused because it pays the least attention to those characteristics deemed "valuable" or worthy of love and, as a result, is able to transcend most discriminating factors. Lewis describes it as a dependency-based love which risks extinction if the needs cease to be met.
Affection, for Lewis, included both Need-love and Gift-love. He considered it responsible for 9/10th of all solid and lasting human happiness.
Ironically, however, affection's strength is also what makes it vulnerable. Affection has the appearance of being "built-in" or "ready made", says Lewis, and as a result people come to expect it irrespective of their behavior and its natural consequences. Both in its Need and its Gift form, affection then is liable to "go bad", and to be corrupted by such forces as jealousy, ambivalence and smothering.
Philia (philía, Greek: φιλία) is the love between friends as close as siblings in strength and duration. The friendship is the strong bond existing between people who share common values, interests or activities. Lewis immediately differentiates friendship love from the other loves. He describes friendship as "the least biological, organic, instinctive, gregarious and necessary...the least natural of loves". Our species does not need friendship in order to reproduce, but to the classical and medieval worlds it is a higher-level love because it is freely chosen.
Lewis explains that true friendships, like the friendship between David and Jonathan in the Bible, are almost a lost art. He expresses a strong distaste for the way modern society ignores friendship. He notes that he cannot remember any poem that celebrated true friendship like that between David and Jonathan, Orestes and Pylades, Roland and Oliver, Amis and Amiles. Lewis goes on to say, "to the Ancients, Friendship seemed the happiest and most fully human of all loves; the crown of life and the school of virtue. The modern world, in comparison, ignores it".
Growing out of companionship, friendship for Lewis was a deeply appreciative love, though one which he felt few people in modern society could value at its worth, because so few actually experienced true friendship.
Nevertheless, Lewis was not blind to the dangers of friendships, such as its potential for cliquiness, anti-authoritarianism and pride.
Eros (erōs, Greek: ἔρως) for Lewis was love in the sense of "being in love" or "loving" someone, as opposed to the raw sexuality of what he called Venus: the illustration Lewis used was the distinction between "wanting a woman" and wanting one particular woman—something that matched his (classical) view of man as a rational animal, a composite both of reasoning angel and instinctual alley-cat.
Eros turns the need-pleasure of Venus into the most appreciative of all pleasures; but nevertheless Lewis warned against the modern tendency for Eros to become a god to people who fully submit themselves to it, a justification for selfishness, even a phallic religion.
After exploring sexual activity and its spiritual significance in both a pagan and a Christian sense, he notes how Eros (or being in love) is in itself an indifferent, neutral force: how "Eros in all his splendor...may urge to evil as well as good". While accepting that Eros can be an extremely profound experience, he does not overlook the dark way in which it could lead even to the point of suicide pacts or murder, as well as to furious refusals to part, "mercilessly chaining together two mutual tormentors, each raw all over with the poison of hate-in-love".
Agape—unconditional "God" love
Charity (agápē, Greek: ἀγάπη) is the love that exists regardless of changing circumstances. Lewis recognizes this one as the greatest of the four loves, and sees it as a specifically Christian virtue to achieve. The chapter on the subject focuses on the need to subordinate the other three natural loves—as Lewis puts it, "The natural loves are not self-sufficient"—to the love of God, who is full of charitable love, to prevent what he termed their "demonic" self-aggrandizement. Lewis did not actually use the word "agape", although later commentators did.
- ^Carl Rogers, Becoming Partners (1984) p. 238
- ^Walter Hooper, C. S. Lewis: A Companion & Guide (1996) pp. 779 and 88–90
- ^C. S. Lewis, The Four Loves (1960) p. 9-12
- ^Hooper, p. 368-70
- ^Lewis, pp. 20 and 27
- ^Lewis p. 26
- ^R. MacSwain ed, The Cambridge Companion to C. S. Lewis (2010) pp. 147–148
- ^Lewis, pp. 50 and 66
- ^Lewis, pp. 50–2
- ^Hooper, pp. 370–1
- ^Hooper, p. 654
- ^Lewis, p. 70
- ^Lewis, pp. 77, 84–5, and 70
- ^Hooper, p. 372
- ^Lewis, p. 108-9 and p. 116
- ^Hooper, p. 373
- ^Lewis, p. 127-32 and p. 113
- ^Lewis, p. 124
- ^Lewis, p. 124 and p. 132
- ^Lewis, p. 133
- ^MacSwain, p. 146
- ^A. Lindsley. C.S. Lewis on Love. C. S. Lewis Institute
- ^P Kreeft. Love, in Fundamentals of the Faith: Essays in Christian Apologetics. Ignatius Press 1988, p. 181
- ^The Question of God, Program Two: C.S. Lewis: The Four Loves. PBS
Don't let the word love define your LOVE
Love is the most powerful emotion a human being can experience. The strange think is, that almost nobody knows what love is. Why is it so difficult to find love? That is easy to understand, if you know that the word "love" is not the same as one's feeling of love.
The word "love" is used and abused for the expression of different sets of feelings.
The word love is used as an expression of affection towards someone else (I love you) but it also expresses pleasure (I love chocolate). To make it a little more complicated, the word "love" also expresses a human virtue that is based on compassion, affection and kindness. This is a state of being, that has nothing to do, with something or someone outside yourself. This is the purest form of Love.
The ancient Greek used 7 words to define the different states of love:
Storge: natural affection, the love you share with your family.
Philia: the love that you have for friends.
Eros: sexual and erotic desire kind of love (positive or negative)
Agape: this is the unconditional love, or divine love
Ludus: this is playful love, like childish love or flirting.
Pragma: long standing love. The love in a married couple.
Philautia: the love of the self (negative or positive)
These are 7 different kind of feelings. The love you feel for your partner is not the same as the love you feel for your mother. Even the love for your partner changes in time. You feel different emotions for different situations and people.
But still, we use the same word. It is easy to understand that a confusion is easy made while communicating. I can say "I love you" to two different people (and mean it), but I am actually feeling in a different way.
This confusion is not only the case while 2 people are talking, your own brain does not get it.
What you feel is controlled by the right side of your brain and language is controlled by your left side. If you use the word "love" 10 times a day with different situations, it losses power. Your left part or your brain does not get fully activated when you really mean "I love you" and want to get exited about it. 50% of your brain is a lot.
The first thing that you need to do is learn the differences of the (7?) states of love. Not the words, but how they feel. It is easy if you recognize the words. It is basic training. Awareness, that is the secret to love.
Love is a practice, it is not something you find or don't find. You can practice love for the rest of your life.
Don't abuse the word love. Use other words where you are not addressing emotion towards other people.
Example: I love chocolate, becomes: I enjoy chocolate. I love my job, becomes: I have passion for what I do.
Enjoying, loving and passion are 3 different emotions. It is essential to learn (again) the true meaning of words, not merely to communicate with someone else, but also so learn to experience them. Words are very powerful instruments. Not only to communicate with others, but also with your self. The words you use, creates awareness and eventually your reality.
If you use words wisely, you can learn to recognize what kind of love you are feeling, and enjoy the different kinds of love. With one person of different ones.
If you don't know how to find love with in you, you will never find it outside you.
Words are agreements to express ideas or feelings. The meaning of words is not absolute, it is always a personal interpretation. The group of feelings associated with the word "love" is difficult to understand, and even more difficult to express to other person. Let put is this way: it is impossible with only one word.
With the creation of a word, you can give it a special meaning. Some lovers create words to express what they feel to each other. A word creates and agreement or memories. This moments can be repeated when you use that word or when you think about it.
In other languages exist words, related to love, that expresses different situations that don't have a translation to English. When you know this words, you recognize this feelings. You get more grip in what you are experiencing.
Beautiful words in other languages:
Yuanfen (Chinese): A love relationship that has been established by lot, based on principles of Chinese culture.
Mamihlapinatapei (Yaghan): A look that without words is shared by two people who want to initiate something, but neither start.
Cafuné (Brazilian Portugees): Slowly stroking your fingers through someone else's hair.
Retrouvailles (France): The happiness of seeing someone again after a long time.
La Douleur Exquise (France): The enormous pain in your heart when you desire someone you cannot have.
Ya'aburnee (Arabic): The hope that you will die earlier than the other, so you don't need to live without the other.
Forelsket (Nordic): The euphoria you feel when you fall in love for the first time.
Saudade (Portugees): The feeling of longing for someone you love, but is far away.
This "moments" are so important in other cultures that they have words to express them. My point is, don't use just one word to define your love. Learn this "words" and recognize them when you are living them.
With love, you get what you put in
Love is an emotion in action. You can learn how to feel and cultivate your love... First learn and know the different situations of love. Learn how to recognize them when you are feeling them. Then you go and share your love with others.
Love between 2 people can only begin if the interaction is based on truth, trust and respect. That is something you start giving. This is essential to grown mutual love between 2 individuals. If the other person gives you wat you give, then you start feeling love for each other and it can grow...
It is not difficult to understand love, once you know how love works.
It is very easy to fall in love with someone. The difficulty is to stay in love. But if it is difficult to stay in love, that means, that it is not the love of your life. It is a love experience. Love is always beautiful, if it is not beautiful, it is not love. Time to move on. Sometimes, love just fades away. It is better to move on when you don't feel anything, then when you feel the opposite of love.
Finding your loved one or a relationship...
If you want to find the love of your life, start being aware of your use of the word love. Saying and thinking I want to find the love of my life and not I want a relationship is fundamental. You find what you are looking for.
"Being in a relationship" is a marketing term invented in magazines. Everyone that is not single is in a relationship. To address a large group of people it is perfect, but it is to vague to define your personal situation.
The only important question for you should be: "Am I experiencing love or not?"
This is the first philosophy essay forming a series under the name: "Natural Philosophy" about the most important matters of life, trying to define a "Theory of everything". Continue reading here.
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