B1 Intermediate UK 620 Folder Collection
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Love is our highest value, what we all crave
and what we believe makes us fundamentally

human, but it is also the source of considerable
anxiety. Chiefly, we worry whether we are

entirely normal because it frequently feels
as if we are not experiencing love the way

we should be. Society is subtly highly prescriptive
in this regard. It suggests that to be a decent

person, we should all be within sexual relationships
and furthermore, that within these, we should

'love' in a very particular way: we should
be constantly thrilled by our partner's

presence, we should long to see them after
every absence, we should crave to hold them

in our arms, to kiss and be kissed by them
and – most of all – want to have sex with

them every day or so. In other words, we should
follow the script of Romantic ecstasy throughout

our lives. This is beautiful in theory and
hugely punitive in practice. If we're going

to define love like this and peg the idea
of normality accordingly, then most of us

will have to admit to ourselves (with considerable
embarrassment) that we don't know much about

love – and therefore don't qualify as
decent, sane, or normal people. We've created

a cult of love radically out of line with
most of our real experiences of relationships.

This is where the Ancient Greeks can help.
They realised early on that there are many

kinds of love, each with their respective
virtues and seasons – and that a good society

requires us to append a correct vocabulary
to these different states of the heart, lending

each one legitimacy in the process. The Greeks
anointed the powerful physical feelings we

often experience at the start of a relationship
with the word 'eros' (ἔρως) . But

they knew that love is not necessarily over
when this sexual intensity wanes, as it almost

always does after a year or so in a relationship.
Our feelings can then evolve into another

sort of love they captured with the word 'philia'
(φιλία) normally translated as 'friendship'

though the Greek word is far warmer, more
loyal and more touching than its English counterpart;

one might be willing to die for 'philia'.
Aristotle recommended that we outgrow eros

in youth, and then base our relationships
– especially our marriages – on a philosophy

of philia. The word adds an important nuance
to our understanding of a viable union. It

allows us to see that we may still love even
when we are in a phase that our own, more

one-sided vocabulary fails to value. The Greeks
had a third word for love: agape (ἀγάπη).

This can be best translated as a charitable
love. It's what we might feel towards someone

who has behaved rather badly or come to grief
through flaws of character – but for whom

we still feel compassion. It's what a God
might feel for his or her people, or what

an audience might feel for a tragic character
in a play. It's the kind of love that we

experience in relation to someone's weakness
rather than their strength. It reminds us

that love isn't just about admiration for
virtues, it's also about sympathy and generosity

towards what is fragile and imperfect in us.
Having these three words to hand – eros,

philia and agape – powerfully extends our
sense of what love really is. The Ancient

Greeks were wise in dividing the blinding
monolith of love into its constituent parts.

Under their tutelage, we can see that we probably
have far more love in our lives than our current

vocabulary knows how to recognise.
did you know that The School Of Life is actually a place?
Ten places in fact. Campus' all over the world from Melbourne to London, Taipie to Istanbul.
With classes and books and much more. Please click on the link below to explore more.
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Why ‘love’ is a useless word – and three alternatives

620 Folder Collection
Samuel published on March 21, 2018
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