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Four Types of Love and Agape as Its Highest Form

The word “love” has various meanings, and everyone usually uses it, implying their meaning. I believe that clarifying the definition of love would benefit society and the world due to sympathy being one of the most important. As a result, people would be better at understanding their own emotions and, thus, in controlling them, too. There is an idea about words of theologist’s Thomas Aquisas, that true love will be less connected with emotions and more with reason. It would reduce violence, crimes, and mental issues, making the world a much safer and healthier place for living. It was motivating for me to realize that there are different kinds of love; one of them, agape, means unconditional love, similar to those mentioned by Aquinas.

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There are four types of love defined by ancient Greeks, and they successfully explain the variety of sympathetic feelings. The first, philia, is a friendly love that feels warm and is accompanied by the desire to be around someone considered a friend. Such love is usually calm and careful, but it is only an affection that grows from friendship, and it usually fades away quite quickly (Clout, V., 2020). Another type, storge, is the relative love, between parents and children and brothers and sisters. The third type, eros, is the most usual meaning of the word “love”: erotic, sensual, passionate love, which sparks between those in love. The fourth type, agape, differs from the three other types, and it is probably not an emotional feeling at all in its ordinary sense. It has no passion accompanying it, and according to Kreeft (1988), it is agape, which is the greatest love on Earth. It is responsible for the feeling of solidarity and understanding behind the boundaries of races, cultures, and religions (United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, 2017).

Agape, from the Greek language, means the highest kind of love, the God-like unconditional love, which seems to be the most important one. Curiously, in English, we once have a word with a similar meaning: charity (Kreeft, 1988). Now this word means only alms or mercy, but it was wider in the past and defined the unconditional fraternal love between fellow Christians. The importance of this love goes further than the three other types of love discussed earlier.

Unlike philia, storge, and eros, agape is not a feeling but independent of the changeable and sometimes deceiving emotions. It is perceived as the open, unconditional, equal love to all living people, connected with a desire to help them, no matter what one feels in each particular moment (Clout, V., 2020). In its highest form, charity is the vital element of agape: giving to those who need it without expecting anything in return (United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, 2016). This quality is not feeling instantly; instead, it emerges and rises gradually, along with one’s spiritual development. In his book, Kreeft (1998, p. 2) uses it as a wordplay, saying that “we do not fall in agape; we rise in agape” and showing that the agape has no “passion,” which can be a reason for “falling.” It is that kind of love that can unite humanity based on mutual understanding and cooperation (Talent Recap., 2020). Thus, understanding the quality of agape and accustoming it to it will be significant progress for our civilization.

While one can see love in many ways, it is better to distinguish, to not get lost among the different types. While philia, storge, and eros are essential too, agape is higher due to its position beyond the ordinary emotional feelings, similar to Aquinas’ defitinion. Its qualities, once accustomed, become independent from the unstable and ever-changing human emotions. People who have agape are eager to help those who need it and understand others as better as they understand themselves. In that way, I think the concept of agape is essential for the modern world, with its multicultural civilization and globalization, to successfully pass the stages of divisions, avoid wars, and promote peaceful development and cooperation.

References

Kreeft, P. (1988). Love. In Fundamentals of the faith: Essays in Christian apologetics (First ed., pp. 1–8). Ignatius Press.

Clout, V. The 2020 New York life Super Bowl commercial that proves all you need is love [Video]. YouTube. Web.

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Talent Recap. (2020). Lionel Richie, idol alumni, top 11, and winner perform “We Are The World” | American Idol Finale [Video]. YouTube. Web.

United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. (2016). CST 101: Option for the poor and vulnerable [Video]. YouTube. Web.

United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. (2017). CST 101: Solidarity [Video]. YouTube. Web.

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