DEFINITION OF LOVE: Impersonal Love, Interpersonal Love, & Christian Understanding of Love
Love can be said to be a widely misunderstood word, even though there could be so many explanations on it. Not to worry, this post is on the definition of Love, and more.
Etymological Meaning of Love
From Middle English love, luve, from Old English lufu, from gem-pro *lubō, from ine-pro *lewbʰ-.
The verb is from Middle English loven, lovien, from Old English lufian, from the noun lufu.(English Dictionary)
Love is a variety of different feelings, states, and attitudes that ranges from interpersonal affection (“I love my mother”) to pleasure (“I loved that meal”). It can refer to an emotion of a strong attraction and personal attachment .
Love can also be a virtue representing human kindness , compassion, and affection—”the unselfish loyal and benevolent concern for the good of another”. It may also describe compassionate and affectionate actions towards other humans, one’s self or animals.
Non-Western traditions have also distinguished variants or symbioses of these states ; words like storge, philia, eros , and agape each describe a unique “concept” of love.
Love has additional religious or spiritual meaning—notably in Abrahamic religions. This diversity of uses and meanings combined with the complexity of the feelings involved makes love unusually difficult to consistently define, compared to other emotional states.
Love in its various forms acts as a major facilitator of interpersonal relationships and, owing to its central psychological importance, is one of the most common themes in the creative arts.
Love may be understood as a function to keep human beings together against menaces and to facilitate the continuation of the species.
Definition of Love – Distinct Meanings
The word “love” can have a variety of related but distinct meanings in different contexts. Many other languages use multiple words to express some of the different concepts that in English are denoted as “love”; one example is the plurality of Greek words for “love” which includes agape and eros . Cultural differences in conceptualizing love thus doubly impede the establishment of a universal definition.
Although the nature or essence of love is a subject of frequent debate, different aspects of the word can be clarified by determining what isn’t love (antonyms of “love”).
See also: The Characteristics of Love
Love as a general expression of positive sentiment (a stronger form of like) is commonly contrasted with hate (or neutral apathy ); as a less sexual and more emotionally intimate form of romantic attachment, love is commonly contrasted with lust; and as an interpersonal relationship with romantic overtones, love is sometimes contrasted with friendship , although the word love is often applied to close friendships. (Further possible ambiguities come with usages “girlfriend”, “boyfriend”, “just good friends”).
Abstractly discussed love usually refers to an experience one person feels for another. Love often involves caring for, or identifying with, a person or thing (cf. vulnerability and care theory of love ), including oneself (cf. narcissism ).
Change over time – Definition and Meaning of Love
In addition to cross-cultural differences in understanding love, ideas about love have also changed greatly over time. Some historians date modern conceptions of romantic love to courtly Europe during or after the Middle Ages, although the prior existence of romantic attachments is attested by ancient love poetry.
The complex and abstract nature of love often reduces discourse of love to a thought-terminating cliché. Several common proverbs regard love, from Virgil ‘s “Love conquers all ” to The Beatles’ ” All You Need Is Love “. St. Thomas Aquinas , following Aristotle , defines love as “to will the good of another.”
See also: What Love is and What Love is Not
Bertrand Russell describes love as a condition of “absolute value,” as opposed to relative value . [ citation needed ] Philosopher Gottfried Leibniz said that love is “to be delighted by the happiness of another.”
Meher Baba stated that in love there is a “feeling of unity” and an “active appreciation of the intrinsic worth of the object of love.” Biologist Jeremy Griffith defines love as “unconditional selflessness”.
A person can be said to love an object, principle, or goal to which they are deeply committed and greatly value. For example, compassionate outreach and volunteer workers’ “love” of their cause may sometimes be born not of interpersonal love but impersonal love, altruism , and strong spiritual or political convictions. People can also “love” material objects, animals, or activities if they invest themselves in bonding or otherwise identifying with those things. If sexual passion is also involved, then this feeling is called paraphilia.
Interpersonal love refers to love between human beings. It is a much more potent sentiment than a simple liking for another. Unrequited love refers to those feelings of love that are not reciprocated. Interpersonal love is most closely associated with interpersonal relationships. Such love might exist between family members, friends, and couples. There are also a number of psychological disorders related to love, such as erotomania.
See also: Love as the Nature of God
Throughout history, philosophy and religion have done the most speculation on the phenomenon of love. In the 20th century, the science of psychology has written a great deal on the subject. In recent years, the sciences of psychology, anthropology , neuroscience , and biology have added to the understanding the concept of love.
The Christian understanding is that love comes from God. The love of man and woman— eros in Greek—and the unselfish love of others (agape), are often contrasted as “ascending” and “descending” love, respectively, but are ultimately the same thing.
Christian theologians see God as the source of love, which is mirrored in humans and their own loving relationships. Influential Christian theologian C.S. Lewis wrote a book called The Four Loves. Benedict XVI wrote his first encyclical on “God is love “.
See also: Love as a Fruit of the Spirit
He said that a human being, created in the image of God, who is love, is able to practice love; to give himself to God and others (agape) and by receiving and experiencing God’s love in contemplation (eros).
This life of love, according to him, is the life of the saints such as Teresa of Calcutta and the Blessed Virgin Mary and is the direction Christians take when they believe that God loves them.
In Christianity the practical definition of love is best summarized by St. Thomas Aquinas, who defined love as “to will the good of another,” or to desire for another to succeed. This is the explanation of the Christian need to love others, including their enemies. As Thomas Aquinas explains, Christian love is motivated by the need to see others succeed in life, to be good people.
The quote of Jesus on Love for Enemies
Regarding love for enemies, Jesus is quoted in the Gospel of Matthew chapter five:
“You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven.
He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.
If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others?
Do not even pagans do that? Be perfect, therefore as your heavenly Father is perfect.” – Matthew 5: 43-48
You may like to see: Bible Verses about Love
Tertullian wrote regarding love for enemies: “Our individual, extraordinary, and perfect goodness consists in loving our enemies. To love one’s friends is common practice, to love one’s enemies only among Christians.”(Wikipedia)
Contributor: Temiloluwa Olaposi