Different Ideas of Love

Different Ideas of Love
Love is a popular theme these days. As many of us interpret it differently, the term has come to possess different meanings, with the most popular definitions as follow:


(1) Love as sex, infatuation, being sparked by the emotion of instant passion

(2) Love as caring for other people, you genuinely care about your partner’s well being.


Sounds familiar? They are commonly seen in our culture today. Games, television series, movies had taught us much about ‘love’. With the prevalent idea of (1), we tend to view love an infatuated feeling, sexual desire – the instant feeling that you were ‘hooked’, attracted by someone. In movies, we see characters attracted with each other, and we have experienced it ourselves – we want to stick with the person so badly that we can sacrifice any appointments, day of lives just to be with them. It is often confused with love. It could be a different term we used, however, the crux of this emotion has a more accurate description – lust. It is lust that we are experiencing. Hence, the strong feeling of something pulling us together is not the feeling of love, but a feeling of lust.


In the Symposium, the liking to the body is a superficial feeling, as contrast to the deep feeling of the liking to the soul:

“If someone got to see the Beautiful itself, (they see) absolute, pure, unmixed, not polluted by human flesh or colors or any other great nonsense of mortality…” Diotima, Symposium, 211E-212B


In the five stages of ‘love’, the liking to the body is the first attachment – it is superficial, but can be developed.


The liking to the soul is also a desire to be good. The Greeks sees love as a desire. Note desire is just like any of our desire, to eat, to drink, to socialize etc, where the object here is the well-being of the soul – the desire to complete our souls.


Unfamiliar as it sounds, we always fall in love with the people we admire. We see qualities in these people that we yet to have – the strength, the confidence and so much more. In other sense, we want ourselves to become better; therefore, we are prone to attach to people who possess those qualities. Another way to interpret is, the desire to grow out from what we already possess, to evolve to a better soul.


There are a lot of dialogues on this topic, Symposium, Phaedrus, and even the Alcibiades have mentioned extensively about this. Poets also wrote a lot on this topic and expressed their thoughts on love. Therefore, the idea of love throughout the century is also complex. Aristotle’s notion, love as a genuine care has been prevalent, however, idealistic as it sounds, we seldom see a real sacrifice from ourselves just to benefit the person for the sake of benefiting them. Either way, it’s us don’t want to loose them – we don’t want to loose their accompany, we don’t want to loose their presence, we don’t want to have someone take away them. It’s stemming from our desire – what do we desire for our relationship.


There’s always a debate about this (Plato’s) idea of love, whether it is selfish or not, which is what I’d like to point out in here – it is a selfish act, but it stems from our desire to be good, where a good (or healthy) soul always brings better harmony than a bad soul. We wish to be strong, healthy, so we can display these qualities in our life. Wanting to become good is never a bad thing; we can only benefit people with our qualities when we possess them. It is not always bad to be good, when we are doing it in a right way. To complete our souls is the door to complete others as well.


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