A Short History of Love
The concept of love from ancient times to today
The question about the nature of love has plagued philosophers from the ancient times to today. In this mini-series of posts, we trace the history of the concept of love from Plato and Aristotle through the Christian world to the Desert Fathers of the 5th century AD. In the next post, we will discuss the medieval and romantic concepts of love. (more...)
Erich Fromm: How to Become a Loving Person
What keeps us from finding happiness in love?
The philosopher and psychologist Erich Fromm believes that the main source of pain and anxiety for human beings comes from the feeling of separateness from others. To overcome this loneliness, men have tried many different rituals and relationship forms, but the only true way out is love. For Fromm, real love is based on care, responsibility for the other person, respect and knowledge of the other. (more...)
Erich Fromm: The Art of Loving
Do we need to learn how to love?
In his book “The Art of Loving” (1956) the psychoanalyst and philosopher Erich Fromm (1900-1980) discusses how love is often wrongly perceived as the passive “falling in love.” For Fromm, love is mainly a decision to love, to become a loving person. (more...)
How Can We Define Love?
How is love different from liking or friendship?
Love is characterised by: 1. Exclusivity; 2. Constancy; 3. Reciprocity; 4. Uniqueness; and 5. Irrepleaceability of the beloved. (more...)
Sternberg’s Triangular Theory of Love
What is love made of?
Robert Sternberg thinks that we can best describe love as composed of three “primary” components that combine to produce all the kinds of love that we observe around us: intimacy, passion and decision or commitment. (more...)
St Augustine on the Function and Pleasure of Sex
The real cost of pure pleasure
For St Augustine, the pleasure inherent in any activity is good as long as the activity is performed because of its intended function. When we try to get the pleasure without the function of the activity, we are violating the order of nature and committing a sin. (more...)
Love is All Around
Eryximachos’ views in Plato’s Symposion
In Plato’s Symposion, the doctor Eryximachos says that love is the harmony of opposites. This resonates with beliefs in the traditional medicine of many cultures, as well as with our concept of a “balanced” person. (more...)
Can love be forever?
In Plato’s Symposium, Plato defines love as the desire for the eternal possession of the good. (more...)
Let’s Talk About Love
The complexities of understanding love
The philosophy of love is one of the smaller areas of philosophy but one that has fascinated thinkers since ancient times. Love is a very complex phenomenon that encompasses sex, friendship, self-love and selflessness, as well as God’s love in many religious traditions. (more...)