Love is a relation to someone or something as unconditionally valuable, uniting and connecting with whom (what) is perceived as a blessing; one of the highest values. In a narrower sense, love (if one does not take into account the various emotional states associated with attachment or passion for different things, states and experiences, eg, voluptuousness, avarice, lust, love, etc.) is an attitude toward another person (or at least an individuality). Different terms, expressed in modern European languages, as a rule, with one word “love”, in ancient languages corresponded to special terms: sensual love-desire was denoted by the words kama (Skt.), (Greek), amor (lat.), Ishk Arab.); friendly love (see Friendship) – with the words sneha, priyata (Skt.), (Greek), delictio (lat.), Sadaka (Arabic); love-mercy – with the words prema (Sanskrit Hinduism), karua (Sanskrit Buddhism), esed (Heb.), caritas (lat., ascending to the Greek – beneficence), rahma (Arabic.). In living European languages, there are also various concepts and terms similar to the above, for example – “lust”, “friendliness”, “compassion” (“pity”), “mercy”, “reverence”. In parallel, the permissible combination of different meanings in one word “love” reflects the intuition of a profound kinship between the various experiences of a person’s spiritual and spiritual activity: love always acts as a purposeful and connecting force.

In the European intellectual and spiritual tradition, from Pythagoras and Empedocles to A. Bergson and M. Scheler, love is the great principle of the world (cosmic) life link. But if the first natural philosophers love – this is the principle of space, physical communication between people, then, starting with Socrates, love is viewed primarily as an individual state of the human soul and human attitude. In the Platonic “Pir” – a work that asked most of the main subjects of subsequent philosophical discussions of love – the reunifying function of love-eros appears as the main: “love is called the thirst for wholeness and desire for it”, in love everyone finds his unique other I, in conjunction with which harmony is acquired (the myth of the lost androgyny of the pervilions). In love, man is attached to the Good, the Cosmos, the eternity. Speaking about eros, Plato builds a hierarchy of beauty, in the context of which the meaning of “platonic love” as an aspiration for the sublime and beautiful is clarified. Eros, therefore, turns out to be a fundamental cognitive and creative force (this motif will be consistently developed in Neoplatonism, in particular, in Plotinus and J. Bruno). In the Platonic doctrine of eros, the relation to the higher is determined and mediated by the attitude toward the “neighbor”. The same thesis develops in the doctrine of love-friendship of Aristotle (see Friendship), for which, as well as for Xenophon’s Socrates, it was essential to show that real love rests on reciprocity, benevolence, trust, caring, striving for virtue and perfection. The fact that this was not a typical view among philosophers is evidenced by the consumer interpretation of love as attraction and predilection by Cyrenaica (see Kirensk school). In the intellectual movement from Plato to Aristotle, there is a significant change in the understanding of a love relationship. In Plato, love is the attitude of the lover to the beloved; the ratio of unequal. Aristotle, however, insists that in the friendliness of the equation, although it is implicitly felt that it is mostly about the relationship between the elder and the younger. Epicurus speaks of love only as about love pleasures: in them there is nothing wrong, if they do not harm anyone; in Lucretius, however, love is spoken of as a low sensuality.

The Christian conception of love, as it is expressed in the New Testament, combines the Judaic and ancient traditions and brings to the fore in the understanding of love self-sacrifice, caring, giving (see Agape, Commandment of Love, Charity). The care born of the Platonic Eros or the Aristotelian philia was determined by a special attitude towards this particular person who became his beloved because of his beauty; Christian charity (agapic) love is not a consequence of personal sympathy or admiration for others, it updates the kindness of a person, potentially contained in it initially, while in love for a loved one it turns out to be the neighbor with his specific concerns and problems. Here, as in Plato, the relation to the higher is related, and the relation to the neighbor, but unlike classical antiquity in Christianity, the love of God predetermines and at least mediates love for one’s neighbor; Moreover, in Christianity, the theory of love is initially formulated as ethics: love is explicitly and insistently prescribed; Agape (Caritas) is put forward as a fundamental ethical principle. Developing New Testament ideas of love, Augustine combines them with the Neo-Platonist doctrine of eros as a mystical faculty of knowledge: “we know to the extent that we love.” This is not knowledge of the mind – this is a knowledge of the heart. In fact, the tradition of the philosophy of the heart, rich in European history of thought, originates from here.

In the Renaissance, there is a significant turn in the perception of love, the theme of which is split and developed in the spirit of either Neoplatonist-mystical (for example, M.Fichino, L.Ebreo, J. Bruno) or hedonistic (eg, M.Montenya) eroticism. Splitting of love themes is preserved in the philosophy of modern times. Boris Pascal expressed the most fully cognitive function of love: after Augustine, he regarded love as the driving force that leads man to the knowledge of God, and “the logic of the heart” – as the basis of truth. The role of the heart as a moral sense in the comprehension of spiritual phenomena was highly appreciated and in sentimentalism ethical. In rationalism, the cognitive function of love is disavowed, and love is forced into the “nonessential” realm. For R. Descartes and B. Spinoza, the place of love is in the sphere of passions. At the same time, Descartes retained an essential for European thought understanding of love as an embodied whole, into which a person includes along with himself and another person, and Spinoza believed that the desire of a person who loves to unite with the object of love is not the essence of love, but only its property.

I. Kant and GVFGegel did not pay special attention to love as such, but their teachings finally reveal the tendency of the new European thought to extrapolate the essential characteristics originally identified about love already in antiquity, morality and personality. The second practical principle of the categorical imperative of Kant in the removed form contains features not only of Christian love-agape, but also Aristotelian love-filia, and Platonic love-eros. A close content is found in the disclosure by Hegel of the concept of freedom as the identity of me with another. Hegel reproduces the main provisions of the European philosophy of love in the discussion of the basis of the family. According to L. Feuerbach, love, which most fully expresses the attitude of the I-Thou, is the basis of human relations and encompasses the whole mystery of being. Love for Feuerbach is just a sensual, passionate attitude in which a man and a woman complement each other and in unity “represent a kind, that is, the perfect man. “Thanks to Feuerbach, European philosophy substantially returns to the understanding of love in the unity of its essential manifestations. At the same time, having problematized love in the context of the concept of dialogue (considering it not in the static nature of personality conditions but the dynamics of specific interpersonal relations), Feuerbach posed a new direction in philosophizing about love.

In the end 19 – beginning 20 centuries the philosophy of love develops in three main directions:

a) by religious philosophy;
b) philosophical anthropology;
c) psychoanalytic philosophy.

Love is a relationship of complete and constant exchange, the assertion of oneself in another, the relation of perfect interaction and communication. The meaning of love is in overcoming egoism, which occurs, however, thanks to the “completely objectified subject” – the Other. As for Feuerbach, it is essential for Solovyov that the physical, everyday and spiritual combination of two beings leads to the “creation of a new man”: in love as a sexual relation, the empirical man and woman unite in “one ideal person”. In love, the other is mentally transferred to the sphere of the Divine, and thus, according to Soloviev, there is a deliverance from the inevitability of individual death. Ideas of the philosophy of love were also developed in the works of VV Rozanov, NA Berdyayev, BP Vysheslavtsev.

Kind of force that directs “everything” toward its inherent perfection. The rules of the preference of one and the negligence of others, formed in an individual, form, according to Scheler, the “order of love” (ordo amoris), or his “ethos”. It is exactly as “the being who loves” (ens amans) a person can be a “knowing being” and a “being leading”. In any of its varieties, love is an unfinished love of God; as such, it – along with hatred – is the fundamental value basis of human existence. The idea of the “order of love” was systematically developed in the book “The Metaphysics of Love” (Das Wesen der Liebe) by D. von Hildebrand – the most fundamental in the 20th-century philosophical work on the topic of love. Considering love as a kind of value answer (in love, another person is perceived holistically and unconditionally – as a value in itself), Hildebrand deliberately contrasts his understanding with Platonic, according to which love is a longing for perfection. According to Hildebrand, love is characterized by attitudes toward unity (intentio unionis) and benevolence (intentio benevolentiae). By intentio unionis, selfishness is overcome; as intentio benevolentiae love is different from respect, reverence, admiration – with the obvious preservation of his personality, the lover gives himself to the beloved and, as it were, says: “I am yours.”

Revolutionary impact on the understanding of the source and the psychic nature of love was rendered by Z. Freud’s anthropology, although he did not bring new ideas into the understanding of its essence. Freud reduced love to libido; love is “the spiritual side of sexual aspirations.” The phenomenon of the I-libido, unlike the object-libido, was called narcissism – a self-expressed self-love. Libido is the psychophysical basis of not only love in the proper sense of the word but the whole variety of those attachments and drives that in a living language are called love in nonspecific and private senses. Concerning another person, libido is realized in sexual union; projected onto other objects or activities, the libido is sublimated and transformed into various forms of creativity. In later works of Freud, there is a characteristic difference between libido and eros: since the complete satisfaction of libido as sexual energy is conceived in the realization of the instinct to death (Thanatos), it is eros as the instinct of life that allows man to preserve himself, gives life a newness and intensifies the tension of creativity. Pogromising with Freud, E. Fromm synthesizes his later ideas with classical philosophical ideas of love as a way of overcoming loneliness and unification with other people; The destructive libido is contrasted with “productive love” – creative and creative power, manifested care, responsibility, respect and knowledge; it is thanks to her that self-love is completely mediated by love for one’s neighbor. In-depth psychological analysis allowed Freud’s followers (K.Horni, Fromm, E.Erikson, etc.) to unfold the phenomenology of love, including the variety of its aberrations.

Tags: Buddhist PhilosophyGreek Philosophy
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