What Exactly Is Love?

The topic of types of love often starts a conversation about it. The claim implies that some philosophers can oppose the essence of love by arguing that love is logically illogical. This means that love can never be adequately represented or expressed by a rational proposition. For such critics, love may be seen as a philosophical argument, as well as an ejection of feelings that transcend rational analysis. Others argue that certain languages, such as Papain, never admit this principle, thus ruling out the conceptual possibility. In English, “love” can roughly be defined and this generates some first order issues of meaning and definition that are resolved to some extent by referencing to the Greek terms such as Eros, agape, and philia.


The term Eros “Greek Eastham” refers to the part of love that constitutes of an intense and passionate desire for something. Eros is often referred to as the sexual desire resulting to the modern notion of “erotic” (Greek erotic) (Annas and Julia 112). About the writing of Plato, Eros is a typical aspiration that always seeks the original beauty which is the beauty of some individuals who remind us of the truth, of beauty that exists in the world, of the ideas and forms. “He who loves beauty is called a lover because he partakes it.” The position of Plato maintains that love is generated for beauty on earth and can never be truly satisfied till we die (Bratton and Susan 53). In the meantime, we need to aspire beyond the sharp image that is beyond us so as to contemplate the beauty that is in itself.

The main implication of the Platonic theory of Eros means that ideal beauty is always reflected in particular beauty images. It is possible to find the interchangeable behavior across things, ideas, and art. The Plato’s form of beauty, therefore, suggests that to love is to love not a particular individual but an individual who possesses some truth about the ideal beauty. Reciprocity is not necessary given Plato’s idea due to the desire of beauty. Many people, therefore, hold that love is an intrinsically high value about the Platonic vein of philosophy. They also note that physical attraction holds a common belief about the kingdom of animals. Love, thus, is a lower order of stimulus and reaction than the rationally induced love (Annas and Julia 87). For this reason, love can be produced rationally, and this can stimulate the reasonably induced love. Love provides some rational discourse and exploration of ideas that in turn define the pursuit if ideal beauty. Physical love of an idea, object, and a person is not a proper form of love, because love reflects a part of an object, idea or a person who partakes some ideal beauty.


Philia entails the appreciation and fondness of other people. In references to the Greeks, philia is not only friendship but also the loyalty to the family, community, discipline or job. Philia might tend to motivate an individual just as Aristotle explains in the Nicomachean Ethics due to the sake of the agent, in the interests of other people. The motivational distinctions are usually derived from the love of other people as friendship is a useful situation in case of the business contacts, since their values and character are pleasing. Love concept in English roughly captures Aristotle notion of Philia. He also writes that “Everything that some of the things that cause friendship are doing them the unasked, doing some kindness and not stating the fact when one is done.” (Nussbaum and Martha 90). Aristotle continues to elaborate that bond occurs due to love and this suggests that the best basis of philia is the objective that every individual who shares it should share no grudge, should seek what others do, should be temperate and admire other people appropriately as we continue to respect them. The best character of philia is that it produces the best form of friendship and love. It is important to be a proper role of philia because it is a theme of Nicomachean Ethics (Osborne and Catherine 67). A rational man should live in happiness and be friendly. We can summarize that the love between the equally equal status of Aristotle and the happy, perfect people is great. Aristotle characterizes this kind of love as the “sort of an excessive feeling.” The friendship of a lesser quality can be based on the utility and pleasure that is derived from a different organization. Business friendship, on the other hand, can be built on the service of mutual reciprocity that is familiar to the substantial interests. The friendship dissolves, once the enterprise is at the end. This is also similar to the friendship that is based on some benefit that can be derived from some other company.


Agape is the parental love that God has for man, and the love man has for God; that is extended towards including the brotherly love for all humankind. Agape draws from the elements of not being philia and Eros because it seeks to be a flawless kind of love that is at once a transcending or a fondness of some particular passion that is without some necessity of reciprocity. This concept is expanded through the Judaic tradition of the Christians who love God. Deuteronomy 6:5 says that “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with your soul and with you might.” Leviticus 19:18 says that “love your neighbor as you love yourself.” (Nussbaum and Martha 112). For one to love God, it is important to devote yourself fully just as Plato’s love suggests through beauty. God is the most rational being who deserves respect, love, and considerations from an individual. The universalism of agape always possesses various ethical implications. Aquinas also admits that partiality for love are related to the maintenance of what we should be charitable of while people like Kierkegaard insist on impartiality. Other people claim that universal love, which involves loving others equally is not only impracticable but an empty Aristotle argument that argues that an individual can never be a friend of a large number of people in the sense of having friends who are of a perfect type. Likewise, one can never be in love with several people at one time. This means that love is an excess feeling and it is a nature that can only be felt towards one individual.

Further Conceptual Contemplations of Love

Audacious love has some nature. This means that to a certain extent, this kind of love can be described within various concepts of language. The appropriate language of love, therefore, means that love can sometimes philosophically be beguiling as love itself. Such consideration invokes the philosophy of language through the appropriateness and relevance of meanings. They all provide some analysis of love with its first principles. At times love might be comprehensible and obvious to other people as it is understood from the phrases, “I love you, and “I am in Love” (Rubin and Zick 87). We can fail to analyze what these sentences mean because the concept of love is quite irreducible as an axiomatic or as being self-evident.

We might question ourselves about what we know about love through its epistemology. We can also question ourselves about what we understand about love, whether it is plausible or possible so as to make some statements about ourselves and other people who are in love. The epistemology of love is also intimately connected towards the language of philosophy and various theories of such emotions. If love remains to be an entirely emotional condition, it would be reasonable to argue that it will continue to be an isolated phenomenon that is incapable of being assessed by other people, especially through some language expressions. The language can be a poor indicator of some emotional state for both the subject and the listener (Nussbaum and Martha 87). The emotivists stick to the statement such as, ” I am in love” which is reasonable towards other statements since it is a no propositional utterance that it is veracity and is beyond examination. The phenomenologists present love as a non-cognitive phenomenon. Scheler, for instance, figures like as an ideal act about Plato cognition. He claims that love brings the continuous emergency of some high values through the objects that stream from one object that is without any exertion towards the part of a lover. The lover always appears to be passive towards the beloved. (Rubin and Zick 94)

The other view about the nature of love is derived from the Philosophy of Plato. It suggests that love may permit the understanding by a certain individual and not another person. This, therefore, invokes the epistemological hierarchical that only the intended love has experienced some philosophical ideas either through the musical and poetical view (Osborne and Catherine 98). From one of the levels, it is clear that one can admit that only an experienced individual can know the nature of love which is the truth about the experience. From the first implication of the philosophy, the persons who never feel or experience love may never be incapable of the comprehending nature of love. The second connection states that those who are incapable of the understanding can only feel the physical desires and not passion. Love only belongs to the higher faculties of all people through the knowledge that one should be educated in some form and it belongs to the upper echelons of the society. It also belongs to the artistic, philosophical and poetic class. The inexperienced people who are not romantic are doomed so as to have the physical desire feeling. This separates the physical desire of love, and this has a far implication that concerns the romantic nature of love.

Romantic Love

Romantic love is higher ethical and metaphysical status than the physical or sexual attractiveness. Romantic love mostly stems from the tradition of Platonic that love is always the desire for beauty and value that transcends to some discriminations of the physical body. According to Plato, the love for beauty always results in the love of philosophy, and this is the subject that always pursues the highest thinking capacity. The romantic of damsels and knights emerged from the early medieval ages which are a philosophical echo that consists of Aristotelian and Platonic love, and this was not theoretically consummated because this kind of love was transcendentally motivated by profound respect for a lady (Bratton and Susan 34). It was important to pursue it in the chivalric deeds rather than contemplating it through the contrast that persistent the sensual pursuit of the conquests.

Finally, romantic love returns towards the Aristotle version of some special love of two individuals who find each other as the virtues of one should and two bodies as Aristotle puts it poetically. This kind of love is deemed as a higher status, aesthetically, ethically and metaphysically than the kind of love that the physicalists and behaviorists describe.

The Physical, Spiritual and Emotional Nature of Love

Some people insists that love is physical. For instance, they can say that love is nothing but just a physical response towards another agent who feels the physical attraction towards the individual. Various actions of love encompass the broad range of behaviors that include listening, caring, preferring to other people and attending to as proposed by the behaviorists (Osborne and Catherine 231). The geneticists on the other side reduce the examinations of love towards the real motivation of some sexual impulses that like is a pure sexual instinct that can be shared with some complex and living entities which may be directed towards the rational potential mates and objects of some sexual gratifications. Secondly, the physical determinists who believe that the world is entirely a physical and that physical cause contemplates love to be an extension of some chemical and biological constituents about the human creatures and can be explicable about such processes. The geneticists have the power to invoke this theory that genes can form the determining criteria of love in the original romantic choice especially while choosing a mate. The determinism, however, ignores the possibility of ideational and romantic love. This can, therefore, explain Eros but not agape or philia.

What is more, behaviorism that stems from the mind theory asserts the rejection of Cartesian dualism that is between the body and the mind. Behaviorism states that love entails a series of preferences and actions that can be observable to an individual or from others. The behaviorist theory, therefore, suggests that love is apparent meaning that can be theoretically quantified. Expressionist love appears to be related to the behaviorism because in both cases love is considered to be an expression of the taste of affairs towards a loved one (Bratton and Susan 67). This kind of love is communicated through words, music or poetry or even the behavior of a person. It is, however, a reflection of an emotional state, general behavior rather than the exhibition of the physical response to stimuli. Other people claim that love is a spiritual response that results in the recognition of the soul that assists in the completion of one’s soul. The spiritualist vision of love can incorporate the mystical and the traditional romantic notion of love. It, however, rejects the physicality or behaviorist explanation.

The Ethical and Political Aspects of Love

The moral perspective of love involves the worthy appositeness of loving or the forms through which love should or should never take. The moral perspective of love, however, raises some questions like: should the romantic, and sexual notions of love apply towards the same sex couples and should always aim to transcend sexual desire or even the physical appearances? (Annas and Julia 63) The ethical aspect of love brings up some subject areas that spill naturally into the sex ethics which should deal with the appropriateness of all the sexual activities that lead to reproduction and homosexual activities.

Political Philosophy of love on the other side is studied from various perspectives of life. For instance, some people can view love as the instantiation that results to social dominance by particular groups either the males or the females. In this case, the etiquette if love can design to empower the men or disempower the ladies. From this theory, love appears to be a product of patriarchy and goes on to act as an analogous toward Karl Marx view of religion that love is an opiate of the women. This implication points out that if there was no shrugging off on the notion of love then loving someone can be empowering. This theory attracts the Marxists’ and the feminists’ view of the social relations that reflect the deeper social structure that always divides people into different sexes, races and classes.


Summing up, it is clear that the research has pointed out the key elements of the philosophy of love. The examination reaches the key philosophical fields that can be noted as the theories of human nature, the mind and the self. Love language as found in other languages as well as in English is similarly a broad subject and requires some extensive attention.

Works Cited

Annas, Julia. “Plato and Aristotle on friendship and altruism.” Mind 86.344 (1977): 532-554.

Bratton, Susan P. “Loving nature: Eros or Agape?.” Environmental Ethics 14.1 (1992): 3-25.

Nussbaum, Martha. “The Ascent of Love: Plato, Spinoza, Proust.” New literary history 25.4 (1994): 925-949.

Rubin, Zick. “Measurement of romantic love.” Journal of personality and social psychology 16.2 (1970): 265.

Osborne, Catherine. “Eros Unveiled: Plato and the God of love.” (1994).

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