Eros and Philia in the Seinfeld episode “The Deal”

Eros and Philia in the Seinfeld episode “The Deal”

Love is defined as “a feeling of strong or constant affection for a person” or “attraction that includes sexual desire,” (The Merriam-Webster Dictionary).  That is to say that in the modern day, love is defined as a combination of eros and philia and as we will see, perhaps a little something more. Eros expresses a strong passion or erotic desire to possess. Philia expresses having pleasure or friendship. In an episode of Seinfeld  entitled “The Deal” two of the main characters, Jerry and Elaine, attempt to create the ideal relationship by combining “this” referring to their friendship, or philia with “that” referring to sexual intercourse or eros. However, the eros that Jerry and Elaine hope to attain is not the purified ideal form of eros that the Greeks valued highly, but rather the carnal form.

In Ancient Greece the relationships of philia and that of eros were separate relationships with different people. Furthermore, eros was often a unidirectional relationship, that is to say that there would be one lover and a beloved. Eros was a selfish relationship, while philia included wanting the good for a person for their own sake. In the end, Elaine states that she wants “this, that and the other.” “The other” is all the romantic elements in a relationship as a couple aside from philia and eros. For example, spending the night after sexual intercourse would be considered part of “the other” as would having breakfast together in the morning and reading the paper. As the episode comes to an end one is left wondering if “this, that and the other” is really attainable, and whether in the modern day we are asking too much from a single relationship to fulfill both eros and philia.  Perhaps, in Ancient Greece they had the right idea dividing the satisfaction of eros and philia into different relationships with different people.


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