Definition Essay – Is Love Definable?
Love is a noun, verb and idiom. Its meaning is subjective since it has such an extreme variety of meanings depending on the situation and person: from affection for another person, to deep personal attachment to a family member, to passion or desire and even enthusiasm for something. Love can be for another human being, love for an animal, love for a god, love of doing things, love of material things. This essay sets out to review and assess the definitions of love.
The nature of love is studied as a social philosophy. Its philosophical roots date back to the Ancient Greeks – Eros was revered as their god of love and Plato’s Symposium discusses various judgements on what Eros or love is and culminates by saying that love is a conscious need for a good that the person does not yet possess. However he does place emphasis on the notion that the human mind should direct its feelings of love to divinity. Platonic love, which is non-sexual love, is named after Plato. Meanwhile Plato’s philosophical counterpart Aristotle defined love as ‘to will the good of another’ focusing on the friendship and affection aspects of love.
It was during the Roman Empire that the term love came to be used to describe affection as well as in a romantic or sexual sense. It is widely accepted to this day that love is connected with positive sentiment rather than negative feelings. Yet it is defined within the denotation that it is either impersonal, love of an object, purpose or belief, or interpersonal, which is love between people.
The human being bases its feelings of love on both inherent biological instinct and mental perception. It could be said that the feelings of romantic or sexual love derive from the biological instinct as well as family bonds, while platonic love for friends, commitment and objects is more derived from mental perception. There has also been much research into the aspect that love is a survival criterion for the human race, findings show that children need nurturing, contact and love in order to survive their very early years and in order to ensure development.
Meanwhile the world’s religions all have their own definitions of love. Most surround the principle of love for god. However Asian religions such as Buddhism and Hinduism do describe a type of love in the sensuous, pleasurable sense.
While it is impossible to go into any great detail on each of the above described aspects and history of the definition of love – each of which could form an essay in their own right – love has played a central theme in the evolution of mankind. It forms the central pillar to the world’s religions, is said to be a requirement for the continuation of the human race, and is of great debate and interest in modern day popular culture, as well as being a central premise for the arts over hundreds of years.
Whatever we do to attempt to understand love or compartmentalise its origins and definition, as a feeling of the human race it truly is in the eye of the beholder – the only one who can truly identify and connect to the physical and mental sensations that arise from experiencing love.