What is love? Other than "Baby don't hurt me" I haven't heard too many answers. So then, how are we to begin in this philosophical pursuit. As any other, with deconstruction and examination of existing definitions and the determination of definitions for this particular inquiry.
What is love?
Love has many definitions, but if we examine the most common, we will soon discover the solution. Love is traditionally defined as one of three types. There is agape, eros, and philia. Modern Greek has come up with a word for natural love as well, storge. The modern type refers only to familial love, love that is said to be natural. I, however, disagree with this classification for several reasons. There are several reasons to believe that storge is not anymore natural than any other type of love. Love develops from affection into something stronger, so I am arguing that familial love is not a new "natural" type of love as much as it is a classification of a developed love. Freud would have often believed that the Oedipal and Electra complex is due to our original tie to our paternal figure as the only opposite sex we know within the first period of our life. We begin to form our gender schema of the opposite gender from them, and often the parent of the opposite sex is the first person that you say you love. This explains such phenomena as the latest Mrs. Woody Allen. (Get it? Almost-Incest jokes!)
So, for the purpose of the discussion, we will assume that storge is either an awkward composite of some of the other three types of love, or what I perceive it to be- philia. Philia is known as the fraternal love. It is the love we feel amongst friends that we are not attracted to physically. Whether it is a girl or a boy, if you are not attracted to them at all physically, it is fraternal love, philia. So if it is fraternal, than how can we say that it is the same way in which we love our parents? I would argue that we feel a fraternal bond that differentiates itself through the respect and esteem we give those who are twenty years our superiors in age and experience. Over time, when teens are in angst and claim hatred of their parents, it is because there is no longer respect for them from a foolish teenager who has lived slightly over twelve years and think that they have seen all there is to see; and when they are no longer are friends with their parents, whom often isolate children unintentionally through the necessity of their busy schedules.
The reason I refuse to classify a combination of philia and respect as a new type of love all on its own is because respect, is in no real way a game-changer. I can love my idiot friend who is a loveable-oaf and constantly doing stupid actions and not respect him, the same way I can respect a past professor without loving him. Furthermore, in a certain sense, true philia might require respect to express a more true and sincere feel of equality within the framework of fraternal love. So if anything, storge does nothing more but express what philia truly intends to express in a full and true fraternal love. Philia describes the commitment we see in true comradery. A love of brothers that would die for one another.
Eros is the fundamental component that ignites Agape. Eros is the term used to refer to passion. A passionate love is usually one that begins with sensation. This often means a physical reaction to physical beauty. There can, however, be eros between two people without sexuality. Say two people are passionate about the same interests, it creates a love and passion between two common fans that can be transferred into a mutual sort of self-appreciation in which people see their own passions in others as an admirable or desirable trait.
Plato used the term eros stating that it often transcends a love for another person when it transcends physicality. It ceases to be an admiration of a person and becomes the admiration of beauty. Eros is the love that we live to someday feel, one of exhilaration and excitement. This is why young love is often one short-lived. We will use an archetypal romantic experience for the common person in today's society to examine the way that eros, philia, and agape interrelate.
Two people fall in love, Person A upsets Person B by pointing out an imperfection. Person B is offended and either leaves or is told to leave. Person A either accepts this departure, as they reject Person B due to their imperfections; or, Person A returns to Person B, apologetic that they had seen such imperfection as irreconcilable. Unfortunately for Person A, (except in the case of the most perfect tragedy of Romeo and Juliet, in which neither character sees the other nor develops their views and both meet their end thinking that they understood love) Person B usually has seen this criticism as insincerity within the other person. They have been attacked and their reconsideration of their own feelings has led to the realization that Plato is correct: "I was admiring the idea of romantic love and not actually loving a person."
This disillusionment is not impossible to overcome, though it is rare that Person B can do so while dating the same person who now represents to them "the idea of love." What is more likely to happen is that Person B will find Person C. What person B does not know is that for Person B to fall in love, it must be with a person who appears to be sincerely passionate in all of their endeavors, so as not to fall into the same trap as Person B. Person C and Person B might fall in love, but it will once again be eros. What Person B does not know, is that Person C is so easily passionate in every endeavor because Person C does not commit to any of their passions, with Person B as no exception. Person B will then be taught the same lesson they once taught Person A. When times get rough, Person B is forced to make a choice: commit or abandon. If he abandons he will be just as Person C, passionate but fleeting. But for Person B to ascend to true love, he must realize he must commit wholeheartedly to his endeavors. Eventually, because Person C was defined as passionate but fleeting, Person C will leave.
Person B, must then come across the same exam they gave to Person A when they left. That test is as follows: Is commitment ever worth it? This statement can be rephrased in this way: Hedonism or agape?
Agape is what I choose to describe as a blend between Philia and Eros. The phrase it most easily equates to in colloquial American English is "in love" as opposed to simply "love." Agape can best be described as a blend between commitment and passion. When someone is in love, it combines what you live for with what you would die for. Passion makes the relationship beautiful and fun, whereas commitment makes it meaningful and stable. Each day of Agape, Person B will awake and see the person he loves with the same beauty and vibrancy as the first day the two met. Person B will remember that it is the imperfections that allow for such a complete picture of beauty. Person B will see the beauty within each person. When Person B finds someone willing to accept it, Person B will give their wholehearted devotion. So Person B waits for Person D, a mysterious newcomer or someone whom Person C might become and whom Person A might have always been.
In a way, Person B is no longer Person B. Person A and B started out as young lovers whom had no value to their love. Person C has the appearance of a genuine passion, but still no value in its fleeting graces. Person D, the long sought after lover is passionate but committed. It can be said that there are three classes of lovers. Those ignorant of passion, those who feel passion constantly,and those who are constant when they feel passion. A person constant with their passion can only love another of the same sort. The two remain independent and grow; teaching and learning with each other. Both must show each other the world and both must see more of it each day. A tag team of dreamers and artists seeking knowledge and beauty together. Someone willing to be loved and love back, willing to leap without looking, willing to jump without falling. That is love.