“Love is a smoke made with the fume of sighs. Being purged, a fire sparkling in lovers’ eyes. Being vexed, a sea nourished with lovers’ tears. What is it else? A madness most discreet, a choking gall and a preserving sweet.”
~ William Shakespeare
The Philosophy of Love is considered as the field of social philosophy, which is specifically focused on explaining the nature and concept of love. For the philosophers, the question that what is love? Results in raising many issues related to its concept and explanation. However, in general form, Love is an abstract noun and for some it is something that is unreal and not sensible, while for others it is the most sensible and real thing through which people are attached to each other and this world exists. A fact cannot be denied that love plays a significant role in philosophical and social concepts of different cultures.
The concept and depiction of love can be found in the songs, films, dramas and novels, which makes it the most significant and constant theme in the maturing life of humans and also a very vibrant and passionate theme during the youth. Philosophically, since the time of Ancient Greeks, the nature and concept of love has remained a significant pillar of the philosophical discourse. Plato’s Symposium is considered as the main text that initiates the understanding towards the attractive and influential conception of love in philosophical discourse.
In the philosophical discourse, various theories and concepts have been produced that range from materialistic conception of love to considering it as purely physical phenomenon (under this Love has also been considered in philosophy as an animalistic or a genetic urge that specifically explains the human behaviour) to the theories of love that mainly depicts love a an spiritual affair, the heights of which allows humans to touch the supreme divinity.
According to the old Cliché, “the Greek have the word for it” can be considered as apt for this subject. This is because Greek language has several words for every thought and feeling and it is also true in relation to ‘love’, as the Greeks not only have a word, but they have many words related to ‘love’. According to the Greek vocabulary, some of the prominent nouns for ‘love’ are ‘‘storge,’’ ‘‘epithymia,’’ ‘‘philia,’’ ‘‘eros,’’ and ‘‘agape’’.
Some of the Greek terms that were used to express different kind of love, are not very popular in the current vocabulary of love. Storge was used mainly in the literary terms and used to express familial or parental affection, while, epithymia was the term that was mainly associated with libido. However, the three important nouns that significantly influenced the western vocabulary are Philia, eros, and agape. These terms have also significantly influenced the Western ideas and language.
Eros is the term that is highly familiar in the modern languages and related to the word ‘erotic’. In the pre-philosophical Greek period, the theories related to the birth of cosmos and creation was considered as the uniting forces. A great poet and philosopher of the 8th century BCE, who was called as Hesiod has presented Eros as something that firstly merged from the dark gulf of chaos and then towards something that works as the uniting force.
In the Greek mythology, Eros is also the most beautiful God of attraction. However, in the ancient Greek literature, Eros has been presented as violent and a crafty god, whose arrow can overpower the prudent purpose of the kind and can drive people to the feeling of passion for a first person they see after getting struck by the arrow of Eros. In the later Greek philosophy, Eros is also considered as the personification of love as ‘sexual desire’. Therefore,
Eros is the term that constitutes passion and intense desire for something, mainly referred as the sexual desire, resulting in the development of the modern term ‘erotic’ (Greek erotikos). However, in the writing of Plato, Eros stands for the common desire of seeking the mystical beauty or mainly the beauty of an individual. The philosophical theory of Eros has also included the term ‘Platonic’, which is named after the great philosopher Plato, although this term was never used by him. According to the term Platonic love in the theory of eros defines the love that is spiritual, intimate, but not sexual.
Philia is the term that is mainly used for displaying the love in relation to friendship, close family relations and love in humanity. In the English form it is quite similar to term “Philadelphia” that displays brotherly love and compassion for kindness. This word is also used in terms of displaying well-being of others. Although such meaning is reversed in the related term ‘philander’. In contrast to the passionate and desiring yearning of Eros, Philia entails the appreciation and fondness towards others. In the Greek philosophy, the term philia is not just used to express friendship, but it is also expressed to display loyalties towards families as well as loyalty towards one’s job, discipline or political community (polis).
According to the philosophy of Aristotle in the Nicomachean Ethics, Philia can be motivated and the motivational distinction can be derived form the expression of love for another, such as the matters, where friendship can be beneficial for both or for one. According to the Aristotle’s philosophy and the concept of Philia, things that can result in friendship are doing kindness with other in such a manner that that kindness is kept unasked and never proclaiming, when such kindness is done.
Another Greek term that defines love is ‘Agape’. This term is mainly used to inform about the love of God for man and love of man for God. Agape can also be considered as the love for humanity in the philosophical discourse. It also means ‘brotherly love’ for humanity and draws elements from both, philia and eros and seeks to inform about the perfect kind of love. The term Agape has also been expanded on the Judaic-Christian tradition of loving God. There are various example of Agape in Biblical text, such as Deuterono Mythology states that “You shall love the Lord, your God with all your heart and with all your might”; Leviticus informs that one should love “thy neighbour as thy self” and Matthew states “Love thy enemies”.
Therefore, the love that is expressed in Agape is beyond any kind of degree and measures and according to it every human being is lovable. Such impartial love, fellow feeling and respect is depicted in the theories and philosophies of Kierkeguard and Kant. However, the philosophy of Aristotle states that one individual cannot love all with same feeling and there can be the feeling of affection. Aristotle further informs that one cannot be friend with many people to same extent; similarly one cannot love many people at once.
A significant experience that is associated with love is ‘orgasm’. Human sexuality is a significant part of humanity and also played a significant role in developing the understanding of universe. According to Michelle M. Sauer (Ref. “Divine Orgasm and Self-Blazoning: The Fragmented Body of the Female Medieval Visionary” published in “Sexuality, Sociality and Cosmology in Medieval Literary Texts” Ed. By Brown J, Segol M.)…. “Sex and sexuality lie in the centre of the Christian Cosmology, beginning with the expulsion of Adam and Eve from the Garden of Eden. It is clear that the knowledge gained from eating fruit of the Tree of Knowledge is sexual knowledge, though; it can be surprising when the people are confronted with sexuality or sexual expressions in the religious texts”. Furthermore, according to Alan Watts, “studies have considered that mythology is not sexual, but sexuality is mythological since the union of the sexes prefigures the transcending of duality, of the schism whereby man’s experience is divided into subject and object, self and other.” Considering the complex discourse on Religion and Sexuality that started with the dawn of human civilization it would be pertinent to quote Wilhelm Reich who writes in his book “The Mass Psychology of Fascism” that….”Originally and naturally, sexual pleasure was the good, the beautiful, the happy, that which united man with nature in general. When sexual feelings and religious feelings became separated from one another, that which is sexual was forced to become the bad, the internal, the diabolical”. This is how the epic ‘confusion’ was introduced in the complex yet simplest understanding of Love and Sexuality.
Sexuality and the philosophical discourse of love informs that these have been a significant part of humanity and human race that are seen and perceived in various forms (sexual or non-sexual). The different nouns of love developed from the Greek philosophy also informs that love has not just been associated with the passionate sexual desire, but the philosophers have also found love in intimate non-sexual relations between humans. This leads to the development of a new concept of celestial orgasm.
The concept of Eroticism or more specifically speaking; the idea of Concupiscence has also found to be significant for understanding the complex human mind. It is a sexual human experience that could self-sufficient mental activity that brings orgasm. For some of the people, sexual orgasm could be an ultra-divine and spiritual experience, because it fills them ecstasy and an explosion of energy occurs that could not be experienced in normal state. However, in the philosophical discourse, orgasm is not just associated with sex or sexuality or a physical experience.
The celestial orgasm is not just the feeling that comes with sexual contact influenced by lust, but it could be the feeling that brings bliss without concupiscence and sexual contact. Divine orgasm brings a purely divine experience, which can also bring human close to the Almighty. Feeling the celestial orgasm can also bring the humans close to divine energy and the feeling of love eventually comes.
Aniruddha Vithal Babar, B.com, D.H.R.L., LLM (International Law and Human Rights), M.A. (Political Science with specialization in International Relations and Conflict Studies), Former Advocate; Bombay High Court and independent researcher as well as a Freelance Writer with interdisciplinary temperament. He has respectable hold on political and Socio-legal philosophy and thought with research interests include International law, Naga Tribal Studies, Dr. Ambedkar’s Thoughts and Philosophy, Applied Politics, Idea of justice, Peace & Conflict Studies, Northeast Studies, Subaltern Studies, People’s Movements and Human Rights. Presently he is pursuing his PhD in the interdisciplinary fields of Law, Governance and Conflict Management at SSLG, JAIPUR NATIONAL UNIVERSITY. He may be contacted at [email protected])