In my previous article, I discussed what love is according to philosophy as well as the various types of love from Greek theory. In that article the best I could conclude from the various forms of thought is that love, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder or at least its expression is. Love is not just feelings, emotions, a mood, a mindset, or actions, it is all of them. It is mental, physical and spiritual. In this article, I will discuss where most of the Greek thought of love comes from as well as modern theory on love and what it is. The next article in the series will concentrate on the science of love and the top researcher trying to resolve the enigma of passion.
Plato and His Colleagues
Much of the Greek theory on love can be chased back to Plato and his pupil Aristotle. Plato's most credible theory is the estimate of “platonic love” or passion between friends, a non-sexual relationship. Plato’s theory is relevant today in explaining why we hold such a high divorce rate. He proposes that “we expect a lot from the sexual passion we call love, but usually end up disappointed when the romance goes away”. Plato taught that “love is our search for our alter ego, that part of us that will make us whole again”. This is also where the idea of Soulmates in Greek thought comes from. He explains that “each of us is only half of himself or herself, searching relentlessly for completion”. Socrates’ adds to this later by proposing that “we don’t yearn for the half or the whole unless it is good”. Therefore, “when we love something, we are really seeking to possess the goodness which is in it”. With this understanding, we get Plato’s definition of love, which is “the perpetual possession of the good”. Plato even gives a guide on falling in love step by step starting with the recognition of physical attraction or desire, recognition of what is attractive and causing the desire, and recognition of the beauty of the soul. The process also includes the recognition of morals and ethics, seeking philosophical understanding and knowledge of what is going on, and finally the beauty of the object of your affection transcending the physical into something everlasting. There is much more to this theory, but I have outlined the basics for further reading simple consult Google with the term “Symposium”.
The most notable modern theory on love comes from Robert Sternberg. Robert Sternberg came up with the triangular theory of love. The triangular theory is based on the proposal that love is made up of three components: intimacy, passion, and commitment. This theory takes from the Greeks in that there are different forms of love, and the combination of any two of the mentioned components makes these various forms of love, as well as each component itself, a form of love. Intimacy is friendship, passion is infatuation or “love at first sight”, and commitment is empty love. Intimacy and passion together make romantic love. Intimacy and commitment make companionate love or the love typically found in marriages. Passion and commitment make fatuous love, which is a mixture of both romantic love and companionate love. The fourth and most complete form of love is the combination of intimacy, passion, and commitment. None of these forms of love are permanent and can shift from one to another throughout the course of a relationship.
This concludes the second article in this series. Please look for the third, which will cover the science of love.