The Nature of Love: Eros, Philia, and Agape
Love has a “nature,” a proposition that some may oppose arguing that love is conceptually irrational, in the sense that it cannot be described in rational or meaningful propositions.
In English, the word “love,” which is derived from Germanic forms of the Sanskrit lubh (desire), is broadly defined and hence imprecise, which generates first order problems of definition and meaning, which are resolved to some extent by the reference to the Greek terms, eros, philia, and agape.
The term eros is used to refer to that part of love constituting a passionate, intense desire for something; it is often referred to as a sexual desire, hence the modern notion of “erotic”.
Many philosophers hold that love is an intrinsically higher value than appetitive or physical desire. Physical desire is held the animal kingdom too. Hence, it is of a lower order of reaction and stimulus than a rationally induced love—that is, a love produced by rational discourse and exploration of ideas, which in turn defines the pursuit of Ideal beauty. Hence the physical love of an object, an idea, or a person in itself is not a proper form of love, love being a reflection of that part of the object, idea, or person, that partakes in Ideal beauty.
Philia entails a fondness and appreciation of the other. It is not just friendship, but also loyalties to family and political community, job, or discipline. According to Aristotle’s notion of philia, “things that cause friendship are: doing kindnesses; doing them unasked; and not proclaiming the fact when they are done” . This in another way is parental love too.
Friendships may also be based on the pleasure or utility that is derived from another’s company. A business friendship is based on utility–on mutual reciprocity of similar business interests; once the business is at an end, then the friendship dissolves.
Agape refers to the love of God for man. It seeks a perfect kind of love that is at once a fondness, a transcending of the particular, and a passion without the necessity of reciprocity. It is sacrificial Love. The recepient may not deserve the love at all.
The concept is expanded on in the Judaic-Christian tradition of loving God: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your might” (Deuteronomy 6:5) and loving “thy neighbour as thyself” (Leviticus 19:18). The love of God requires absolute devotion.
The universalist command to “love thy neighbor as thyself” refers the subject to those surrounding him, whom he should love unilaterally. Jesus Christ further elecated this love to a newer dimension when he said "Love Your Enemy".
He demonstrated in his life. "For God demonstrated His own Love towards us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.......For if when we were enimies (to God) we were reconciled to God through the death of His own Son (Jesus Christ)" (1 Corinthians 5:8,10). (Bible)
Writer Apostle Paul sings of this Agape Love in his letter 1Corithians Chapter 13 (Bible)
The Beutiful song goes as below:
1 Corinthians 131 If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. 3 If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.
4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
8 Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. 9 For we know in part and we prophesy in part, 10 but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears. 11 When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me. 12 For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.
13 And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is (Agape) Love