From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Love has several different meanings in the English language, from something that gives a little pleasure ("I loved that meal") to something one would die for (patriotism, pair-bonding). It can describe an intense feeling of affection, an emotion or an emotional state. In ordinary use, it usually refers to interpersonal love. Probably due to its emotional primacy, love is one of the most common themes in art. Love is sometimes descibed as an OCD.
Love might best be defined as acting intentionally, in sympathetic response to others (including any gods or goddesses), to promote overall well-being. Or to put simply, "love responds intentionally to promote well-being"(Thomas Jay Oord). Love promotes overall flourishing, but often focuses on those close at hand.
Love is inherent in all human cultures and thus may be seen as a defining trait of humanity, that is, love is a quality that makes one human. It is precisely these cultural differences that make any universal definition of love difficult, but not impossible, to establish. See the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis. Expressions of love may include the love for a soul or mind, the love of laws and organizations, love for a body, love for nature, love of food, love of money, love for learning, love of power, love of fame, love for the respect of others, et cetera. Different people place varying degrees of importance on the kinds of love they receive. Love is essentially an abstract concept, easier to experience than to explain.
Throughout history, predominately, philosophy and religion have speculated the most into the phenomena of love. In the last century, the science of psychology has written a great deal on the subject. Recently, however, the sciences of evolutionary psychology, evolutionary biology, anthropology, neuroscience, and biology have begun to take center stage in discussion as to the nature and function of love.
Biological models of love tend to see it as a mammalian drive, just like hunger or thirst. Psychology sees love as more of a social and cultural phenomenon. There are probably elements of truth in both views — certainly love is influenced by hormones (such as oxytocin) and pheromones, and how people think and behave in love is influenced by their conceptions of love.
Attraction and attachment
The conventional view in biology is that there are two major drives in love — sexual attraction and attachment. Attachment between adults is presumed to work on the same principles that lead an infant to become attached to his or her mother or father.
In the February 2006 issue of National Geographic, Lauren Slater's cover page article "Love: The Chemical Reaction" discusses love and the chemicals responsible. In it Slater explains some of the research in the area. Some key points:
- The chemicals triggered responsible for passionate love and long-term attachment love seem to be more particular to the activities in which both participate rather than to the nature of the specific people involved.
- The serotonin effects of being in love have a similar chemical appearance to obsessive-compulsive disorder (which could explain why a person in love cannot think of anyone else). For this reason some assert that being on a SSRI and other antidepressants, which treat OCD, impede one's ability to fall in love. One particular case:
- "I know of one couple on the edge of divorce. The wife was on an antidepressant. Then she went off it, started having orgasms once more, felt the renewal of sexual attraction for her husband, and they're now in love all over again." (38)
- The long-term attachment felt after the initial "in love" passionate phase of the relationship ends is a result of chemicals such as oxytocin. Things like massaging and "making love" can help trigger oxytocin.
- Novelty triggers attraction, so nerve-racking activities like riding a roller coaster are good dates. Even a person working out for ten minutes can make that person more attracted to other people on account of increased heart rate and other physiological responses.
Companionate vs. passionate
The traditional psychological view sees love as being a combination of companionate love and passionate love. Passionate love is intense longing, and is often accompanied by physiological arousal (shortness of breath, rapid heart rate). Companionate love is affection and a feeling of intimacy not accompanied by physiological arousal.
Triangular Theory of Love
- Main article: triangular theory of love
In 1986 psychologist Robert Sternberg published his famous triangular theory of love in Psychological Review (Vol. 93, No.2, 119-135), which postulated a geometric interpretation of love. According to the triangular theory, love has three components:
- Intimacy – which encompasses the feelings of closeness, connectedness, and bondedness.
- Passion – which encompasses the drives that lead to romance, physical attraction, and sexual consummation.
- Decision/Commitment – which encompasses, in the short term, the decision that one loves another, and in the long term, the commitment to maintain that love.
(left-shifted triangle), typically. Each of these elements can be present in a relationship to the main nine varieties of love via the following combinations:
|Liking or friendship|| |
|Infatuation or limerence|| |
|Empty love|| |
|Romantic love|| |
|Companionate love|| |
|Fatuous love|| |
|Consummate love|| |
In the history of human thought, various researchers, from time to time, have come forward with hypothetical formulas of love. One such famous formula, from the early 20th century, was provided by the pioneer sexologist Havelock Ellis who postulated the following mathematical equality:
- Love = Sex + Friendship
Susan Hendrick and Clyde Hendrick developed a Loves Attitude Scale based on John Alan Lee's theory called Love styles. Lee identified six basic theories that people use in their interpersonal relationships:
- Eros (romantic love) — a passionate physical love based on physical appearance and beauty.
- Ludus (game playing)— love is played as a game; love is playful; often involves little or no commitment and thrives on "conquests".
- Storge (companionate love) — an affectionate love that slowly develops, based on similarity and friendship.
- Pragma (pragmatic love) — inclination to select a partner based on practical and rational criteria where both will benefit from the partnership.
- Mania (possessive love) — highly emotional love; unstable; the stereotype of romantic love; its characteristics include jealousy and conflict.
- Agapē (altruistic love) — selfless altruistic love; spiritual
The Hendricks found men tend to be more ludic and manic, whereas women tend to be storgic and pragmatic. Relationships based on similar love styles were found to last longer.
Helen Fisher suggests three main phases of love: lust, attraction, and attachment. Generally love will start off in the lust phase, strong in passion but weak in the other elements. The primary motivator at this stage is the basic sexual instinct. Appearance, smells, and other similar factors play a decisive role in screening potential mates. However, as time passes, the other elements may grow and passion may shrink — this depends upon the individual. So what starts as infatuation or empty love may well develop into one of the fuller types of love. At the attraction stage the person concentrates their affection on a single mate and fidelity becomes important.
Likewise, when a person has known a loved one for a long time, they develop a deeper attachment to their partner. According to current scientific understanding of love, this transition from the attraction to the attachment phase usually happens in about 30 months. After that time, the passion fades, changing love from consummate to companionate, or from romantic love to liking.
- Ai (愛) is used as a verb (e.g. Wo ai ni, "I love you") or as a noun, especially in aiqing (愛情), "love" or "romance." In mainland China since 1949, airen (愛人, originally "lover," or more literally, "love person") is the dominant word for "spouse" (with separate terms for "wife" and "husband" originally being de-emphasized); the word once had a negative connotation, which it retains among many on Taiwan.
- Lian (戀) is not generally used alone, but instead as part of such terms as "being in love" (談戀愛, tan lian'ai—also containing ai), "lover" (戀人, lianren) or "homosexuality" (同性戀, tongxinglian).
- Qing (情), commonly meaning "feeling" or "emotion," often indicates "love" in several terms. It is contained in the word aiqing (愛情); qingren (情人) is a term for "lover".
In Confucianism, lian is a virtuous benevolent love. Lian should be pursued by all human beings, and reflects a moral life. The Chinese philosopher Mozi developed the concept of ai (愛) in reaction to Confucian lian. Ai, in Mohism, is universal love towards all beings, not just towards friends or family, without regard to reciprocation. Extravagance and offensive war are inimical to ai. Although Mozi's thought was influential, the Confucian lian is how most Chinese conceive of love.
Gănqíng (感情), the feeling of a relationship. A person will express love by building good gănqíng, accomplished through helping or working for another. Emotional attachment toward another person or anything.
Yuanfen (緣份) is a connection of bound destinies. A meaningful relationship is often conceived of as dependent strong yuanfen. It is very similar to serendipity. A similar conceptualization in English is, "They were made for each other," "fate," or "destiny".
Zaolian (Simplified: 早恋, Traditional: 早戀, pinyin: zǎoliàn), "puppy love" or literally "early love," is a contemporary term in frequent use for romantic feelings or attachments among children or adolescents. Zaolian describes both relationships among a teenaged boyfriend and girlfriend, as well as the "crushes" of early adolescence or childhood. The concept essentially indicates a prevalent belief in contemporary Chinese culture that due to the demands of their studies (especially true in the highly competitive educational system of China), youth should not form romantic attachments lest they jeopardize their chances for success in the future. Reports have appeared in Chinese newspapers and other media detailing the prevalence of the phenomenon and its perceived dangers to students and the fears of parents.
In Japanese Buddhism, ai (愛) is passionate caring love, and a fundamental desire. It can develop towards either selfishness or selflessness and enlightenment.
Amae (甘え), a Japanese word meaning "indulgent dependence", is part of the child-rearing culture of Japan. Japanese mothers are expected to hug and indulge their children, and children are expected to reward their mothers by clinging and serving. Some sociologists (most notably, Takeo Doi) have suggested that Japanese social interactions in later life are modeled on the mother-child amae.
Linguistically, the two most common words for love are ai （愛）and koi (恋). Generally speaking, most forms of non-romantic love are expressed using the former, while romantic love is expressed using the latter. "Parental love", for example, is oya no ai (親の愛), while "to be in love with" is koi suru (恋する). There are of course exceptions. The word aijin (愛人) means "lover" and implies an illicit, often extra-marital relationship, whereas koibito (恋人) has the connotation of "boyfriend", "girlfriend", or "partner".
In everyday conversation, however, ai (愛) and koi (恋) are rarely used. Rather than using ai shiteiru (愛している) or koi shiteiru (恋している) to say "I love you", for example, most Japanese would say suki desu (好きです), which literally means "I like you" -- suki (好き) being the same word used to express preferences for food, music, etc., as in sushi ga suki desu (寿司が好きです), or "I like sushi." Rather than diluting the sentiment, however, the implied meaning of "love" is understood.
Greek distinguishes several different senses in which the word love is used. For example, ancient Greek has the words philia, eros, agape, storge and xenia. However, with Greek as with many other languages, it has been historically difficult to separate the meanings of these words totally. At the same time the ancient Greek text of the Bible has examples of the verb agapo being used with the same meaning as phileo.
Agape (ἀγάπη agápē) means love in modern day Greek. The term s'agapo means I love you in Greek. The word agapo is the verb I love. It generally refers to a "pure", ideal type of love rather than the physical attraction suggested by eros. However, there are some examples of agape used to mean the same as eros. It has also been translated as "love of the soul".
Eros (ἔρως érōs) is passionate love, with sensual desire and longing. The Greek word erota means in love. Plato refined his own definition. Although eros is initially felt for a person, with contemplation it becomes an appreciation of the beauty within that person, or even becomes appreciation of beauty itself. Eros helps the soul recall knowledge of beauty, and contributes to an understanding of spiritual truth. Lovers and philosophers are all inspired to seek truth by eros. Some translations list it as "love of the body".
Philia (φιλία philía), means friendship in modern Greek, a dispassionate virtuous love, was a concept developed by Aristotle. It includes loyalty to friends, family, and community, and requires virtue, equality and familiarity. Philia is motivated by practical reasons; one or both of the parties benefit from the relationship.
Storge (στοργή storgē) means affection in modern Greek; it is natural affection, like that felt by parents for offspring.
Xenia (ξενία philoxenía), means hospitality in modern Greek, was an extremely important practice in ancient Greece. It was an almost ritualized friendship formed between a host and their guest, who could previously be strangers. The host fed and provided quarters for the guest, who was only expected to repay with gratitude. The importance of this can be seen throughout Greek mythology, in particular Homer's Iliad and Odyssey.
The Latin language has several different verbs corresponding to the English word 'love'.
Amare is the basic word for to love, as it still is in Italian today. The Romans used it both in an affectionate sense, as well as in a Romantic or sexual sense. From this verb come amans, a lover, amator, 'professional lover', often with the accessory notion of lechery, and amica, 'girlfriend' in the English sense, often as well being applied euphemistically to a prostitute. The corresponding noun is amor, which is also used in the plural form to indicate 'love affairs' or 'sexual adventures'. This same root also produces amicus, 'friend', and amicitia, 'friendship' ed on mutual advantage, and corresponding sometimes more closely to 'indebtedness' or 'influence'). Cicero wrote a treatise called On Friendship (de Amicitia) which discusses the notion at some length. Ovid wrote a guide to dating called Ars Amatoria (The Art of Lovers), which addresses in depth everything from extramarital affairs to overprotective parents.
Complicating the picture somewhat, Latin sometimes uses amare where English would simply say to like; this notion, however, is much more generally expressed in Latin by placere or delectare, which are used more colloquially, and the latter of which is used frequently in the love poetry of Catullus.
Diligere often has the notion 'to be affectionate for', 'to esteem', and rarely if ever is used of romantic love. This word would be appropriate to describe the friendship of two men. The corresponding noun diligentia, however, has the meaning 'diligence' 'carefulness' and has little semantic overlap with the verb.
Observare is a synonym for 'diligere'; despite the cognate with English, this verb and its corresponding noun 'observantia' often denote 'esteem' or 'affection'.
Caritas is used in Latin translations of the Christian Bible to mean 'charitable love'. This meaning, however, is not found in Classical pagan Roman literature. As it arises from a conflation with a Greek word, there is no corresponding verb.
Indonesian and Malaysian
In Indonesian and Malaysian linguistics perspective, love can be defined in several ways:
Cinta is a word that defines lust or love that involves physical attraction.
Jatuh cinta literally means falling in love: the initial action that triggers love.
Sayang is a word to express unconditional love, but also to express deep regret in losing something.
Whether religious love can be expressed in similar terms to interpersonal love is a matter for philosophical debate. Religious 'love' might be considered a euphemistic term, more closely describing feelings of deference or acquiescence. Most religions use the term love to express the devotion the follower has to their deity, who may be a living guru or religious teacher. This love can be expressed by prayer, service, good deeds, and personal sacrifice. Reciprocally, the followers may believe that the deity loves the followers and all of creation. Some traditions encourage the development of passionate love in the believer for the deity. Refer to Religious Views below.
Karunā is compassion and mercy, which reduces the suffering of others. It is complementary to wisdom, and is necessary for enlightenment.
Advesa and maitrī are benevolent love. This love is unconditional and requires considerable self-acceptance. This is quite different from the ordinary love, which is usually about attachment and sex, which rarely occur without self-interest. Instead, in Buddhism it refers to detachment and unselfish interest in others' welfare.
The Bodhisattva ideal in Tibetan Buddhism involves the complete renunciation of oneself in order to take on the burden of a suffering world. The strongest motivation one has in order to take the path of the Bodhisattva is the idea of salvation within unselfish love for others.
|"Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up, Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil; Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth; Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things." |
—1 Corinthians 13:4-7 (KJV)
There are several Greek words for Love that are regularly referred to in Christian circles.
- Agape - In the New Testament, agapē is charitable, selfless, altruistic, and unconditional. It is parental love seen as creating goodness in the world, it is the way God is seen to love humanity, and it is seen as the kind of love that Christians aspire to have for others.
- Phileo - Also used in the New Testament, Phileo is a human response to something that is found to be delightful. Also known as "brotherly love".
- Two other words for love in the Greek language -- Eros (sexual love) and storge (needy child-to parent love) were never used in the New Testament.
Many Christians believe that the greatest commandment is "thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment." and "Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself." are the two greatest commandments (the two greatest commandment of God, according to Jesus). See The Gospel of Mark chapter 12, verses 28-34). Saint Augustine summarised this when he wrote "Love God, and do as thou wilt". Saint Paul glorified agape love as the most important virtue of all in 1 Corinthians, chapter 13. Attempting to define it he wrote, " Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up, Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil; Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth; Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things. Charity never faileth: but whether there be prophecies, they shall fail; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away. "(13:4-8 KJV)
Christians also believe that God felt so much agape love for man that he sacrificed his son for them. John the Apostle wrote, "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved." (John 3:16-17 KJV)
In contrast to kāma, prema or prem refers to elevated love.
Karuna is compassion and mercy, which reduces the suffering of others.
Bhakti is a Sanskrit term from Hinduism meaning 'loving devotion to the supreme God'. A person who practices bhakti is called bhakta. Hindu writers, theologians, and philosophers have distinguished nine forms of devotion that they call bhakti, for example in the Bhagavatha-Purana and according to Tulsidas. The booklet Narada bhakti sutra written by an unknown author distinguishes eleven forms of love.
In a sense, love does encompass the Islamic view of life as universal brotherhood which applies to all who hold the faith. There are no direct references stating that God is love, but amongst the 99 names of God (Allah), there is the name Al-Wadud or 'the Loving One', which is found in Surah 11:90 as well as Surah 85:14. It refers to God as being "full of loving kindness". In Islam, love is more often than not used as an incentive for sinners to aspire to be as worthy of God's love as they may. One still has God's love, but how the person evaluates his own worth is to his own and God's own counsel. All who hold the faith have God's love, but to what degree or effort he has pleased God depends on the individual itself.
Ishq, or divine love, is the emphasis of Sufism. Sufis believe that love is a projection of the essence of God to the universe. God desires to recognize beauty, and as if one looks at a mirror to see oneself, God "looks" at itself within the dynamics of nature. Since everything is a reflection of God, the school of Sufism practices to see the beauty inside the apparently ugly. Sufism is oftentimes referred to as the religion of Love. God in Sufism is referred to in three main terms which are the Lover, Loved, and Beloved with the last of these terms being often seen in Sufi poetry. A common viewpoint of Sufism is that through Love humankind can get back to its inherent purity and grace.
|"And you shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your might." |
In Hebrew Ahava is the most commonly used term for both interpersonal love and love of God. Other related but dissimilar terms are Chen (grace) and Hesed, which basically combines the meaning of "affection" and "compassion" and is sometimes rendered in English as "loving-kindness".
Judaism employs a wide definition of love, both between people and between man and the Deity. As for the former, the Torah states: "Love your neighbor like yourself" (Leviticus 19:18). As for the latter, one is commanded to love God "with all your heart, with all your soul and with all your might" (Deuteronomy 6:5), taken by the Mishnah (a central text of the Jewish oral law) to refer to good deeds, willingness to sacrifice one's life rather than commit certain serious transgressions, willingness to sacrifice all one's possessions and being grateful to the Lord despite adversity (tractate Berachoth 9:5). Rabbinic literature differs how this love can be developed, e.g. by contemplating Divine deeds or witnessing the marvels of nature.
As for love between marital partners, this is deemed an essential ingredient to life: "See life with the wife you love" (Ecclesiastes 9:9). The Biblical book Song of Songs is a considered a romantically-phrased metaphor of love between God and his people, but in its plain reading reads like a love song.
The 20th-century rabbi Eliyahu Eliezer Dessler is frequently quoted as defining love from the Jewish point-of-view as "giving without expecting to take" (from his Michtav me-Eliyahu, vol. I). Romantic love per se has few echoes in Jewish literature, although the medieval rabbi Judah Halevi wrote romantic poetry in Arabic in his younger years (he appears to have regretted this later).
Different cultures have deified love, typically in both male and female form. Here is a list of the gods and goddesses of love in different mythologies.
- Áine — goddess of fertility and passionate love in Irish mythology
- Amor or Cupid — god of passionate love in Roman mythology
- Aonghus or Aengus— god of beauty, youth, and sensual love in Irish mythology
- Aphrodite — goddess of beauty and passionate love in Greek mythology
- Astarte — goddess of love in Canaanite mythogy
- Eros — god of passionate love in Greek mythology
- Freya — goddess in Norse mythology
- Inanna — goddess of love and war in Sumerian mythology
- Ishtar — goddess of love and war in Babylonian mythology
- Kama — god of sensual love in Hindu mythology
- Rati — goddess of passionate love in Hindu mythology
- Venus — goddess of beauty and passionate love in Roman mythology
- Xochipilli — god in Aztec mythology
- Antheia — goddess in Crete mythology of love, flowers, gardens, and marshes
Even though in monotheistic religions, the God is considered to represent love, there are often angels or similar beings that represent love as well.