Defining Love

There is probably no stronger emotion than love.  Love has fascinated humans since the beginning of time.  The question “What is Love?” is not only asked in Pop songs, literature, and art.   People from different cultures have asked this question since, apparently, forever.  Different people and cultures around the world have found varied approaches to this topic. For this month’s theme, I wanted to write about defining love.

The Ancient Greeks top the list for the most famous definitions of love.   Their schools of thought and philosophy divided and defined love into discreet categories, some of which we still use today.   For example, the Greek word Storge describes the love for one’s family, or filial relationships.  Phillia describes the affectionate love one has for friends.  Agape is universal love; charity and empathy for all.  Eros, on the other hand, is very true, passionate love.

In the Far East, the Mandarin language uses xihuan to express emotions or passion towards another person.  However, this term is used in a more casual and universal way than in Western cultures.  Some translators even go as far as translating xihuan as like, since it is often used in an casual yet affectionate manner.  It was only in the last couple of years when the word Ai was reintroduced into the contemporary Mandarin vernacular, which is meant in a more serious context and is like Western usage.

In Western cultures, the concept of love is heavily influenced by songs, poetry, and literature. The Shakespearean era in England was a defining moment for love. Our culture began to see love as a powerful, unwieldy force, which could either be a positive emotion, or a dramatically destructive force.

Unfortunately, the varying definitions of love across cultural divides has led many European scholars to think love was a concept exceptional for European cxultures.  However, this perspective has started to shift in the last century.  In a landmark study, anthropologists concluded the concept of love is known approximately 88.5% of all cultures.  Which makes love an almost universal feeling around the world.


picture credits: pixabay

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