Plato and Aristotle say that the opinions we hold are true when they assert that that.. which
is... is, or that that which is not, is not; and thatour opinions are false when they assert that that
whch is, is not, or that that which is not, is...
This statement is the wisdom one I would like to use, before beginning my topic...
This page is praiseworthy sister Truong thi Hue, ex-professor of college Doc Binh Kieu, Cailay,
different kind of love...
Most of us when we hear the word love, we think
about the relation between man and woman. This is certainly a real and evident form of love. It is not the staple of great
dramas, and romantic fiction. It is also one of the basic expressions of the wedding union, of the permanent bond between
But this is only one of many forms of love. There is not only the love of David for Bathsheba, there is also the
love between David and Jonathan, and the love of David for " Absalom, my son, my son." There is also the love of
Plato for Socrates, the love between Jesus and the disciples. the love between persons
who belong to a religion or intellectual fellowship. Man love their native or adopted land, their family, their ideals, and
their God. We feel that we must use the same word for many different kinds of relationship, The Greeks have many
words for it, but roughtly, the three philia, eros, agape are considered definition of relationship, desire,
charity. Philia is the Jonathan- David, kind of love, comrade or felloship even not only for the
persons of the same sex. Eros is desirous, longing kind of love that is satisfied only by the possession
of the loved object. We think that the sexual love between the man and the woman. Agape is the religious love, between
God and man and between man and man. Thsi kind of love had been mentioned in the Bible toward God and neighbor. This emphasis
is the self-giving, on devotion and service, rather than on attaining some finite satisfaction.
These three types of love, even the erotic, are directed toward someone or something else.
We are tempted to say that love is always for another. But what about self - love? Does not the injunction to love your neighbor
as yourself imply that you can and should love yourself? Yet moralists and psychoanalysts frown on self - centered love as
a kind of perversity and ommaturity, and religion counsels us to abandon our pretty self - concern. Perhalps
there is a right and wrong form of self - love, and we are enjoined to love not our pretty, grasping egos but what
is true and good in ourselves.
It is not easy to separate the three kinds of love. For instance, in France lowers call each
other '' my friend " and no one can deny that there can be true friendship and comradeship between lowers.
They can also be real self - sacrifice and devotion in romantic love. Erotic love is perhaps harder to pin
down than religious love. for it seems to include everything from the trivial to the sublime. It runs all the way
from the puppy love of youngsters nibbling at the bonbons of amorous delight to the solid bond between two adults who have
pledged themselves to one another.
Freud, of course, thinks that sexual or erotic lovw, derived originally from
animal instinct, is the basic type of love, and that all other types are refined forms of it. I disagree with this. I believe
that love essentially is good will - thinking well of others and wishing them well. It is a state of the will, not of the
animal passions. Even in its earthiest form it is a giving as well as a taking. People who cannot give of themselves can never
The real problem about erotic love arises from the strange fusion of animal passion,aesthetic
sensibility, and the loving will that makes it what it is. Perhaps, this is just another paradoxical characteristic of that
strange mixture of things - man. Even in what seem to be animal enjoyments he is at his most human. Erotic love
is specifically human love, and in it man may find the way to a deeper love and reality. Sexual love should be the
gateway, not the barrier, to human fulfillment...
love and lust...
St. Augustine was asked " What is time ? " he replied ..." If no one asks me, I do not know."
To define love is equally difficult. Freud, near the end of his long life confessed..." Up to
the present I have not found the courage to make broad statements on the essence of love and I think that our knowledge is
not sufficient to do so... We really know very little about love. " However, we can gain some insight by considering
the views of various philosophers, poets and psychiatrists, all of whom have contributed to an understanding, if not a solution,
of the prblem - what is love ?
When a man and a woman fall in love they desire each other,
but not in the samt way that they desire food and warer. Human sexuality takes two directions : there is sex in the
service of love, and there is sexdivorced from love (i.e. lust ). To desire aperson as onedesires foodor drink is lust - a
completely selfish desire. But sexual love implies a fusion of soul and body. It seeks to realize itself in a union which
involves knowing, understanding, compassion and self - sacrifice.
We may never be able to tell which come first - liking
or wanting. Does love spring fromdesire, or desire from love? Aristotle felt that benevolence
come first; Freud felt sexual love grows out of desire. While the question is perhaps insoluble, it does
seem to make a practical difference which way love does happen. If sex comes first, the union is likely to be short
- lived; if love come first, a more stable, fruitful union seems likely because, among other things, a more intelligent choice
has been made.
The observation of the poets and the clinical experience
of the psychoanalysts and psychiatrists seem to confirm this point..." Love and sex often coincide...".
writes Theodore Reik, the well known psychiatrist,..." butcoincidence is not evidence
of identity... There is no doubt among psychoanalysts that there is sex wothout love, sex - straight. but they vehemently
deny that therer can be love without sex. ". Another psychiatrist, Erich Fromm, the author of
The Art of Loving, warms us:...Since erotic love is the most deceptive form of love there is...it becomes important
to distinguish sexual desire per se from love. If erotic love is not also botherly love, the union is likely to be orgiastic,
The great poets support these views. Indeed, fascinated by the subject,
they long ago anticipated some of the findings of the psychologists. If they fail to come up with a precise definition, they
do at least discern some of the attributes of human love.
Love implies passion, or as Milton put it in Paradis Lost:
........ with new
Wine intoxicated both
They swim in mirth, and fansie that they feel
Divinitie within them breeding wings
Wherewith to scorn the Earth.
Love implies constancy, or as Shakespeare declared
Love is not love
Which alters when it alteration finds.
Above all, love implies union, a union of body and soul, or as
John Donne expressed it :
Love's mysteries in souls do grow
yet the body is his book.
According to an ancian Greek myth, man was originally a composite
of being, half male and half female. A capricous god split him in two, with the result that the separated male and female
have sought ever since to become re - united with the " other half ". Modern psychologists make the same point in a somewhat
different way when they say that : " the deepest need of man is the need to overcoe his separateness, to leave the
prison of his aloneness..."
love of things and of persons
Descartes noted in The Passion of the Soul that the term " love " may be applied
to " The Passion of an ambitious man for glory, of a drunkard for wine, of a brutal man for a woman he wants to rape,
of a man of honor for his friend or his mistress and of a good father for his children ". Since Descartes
defines love as the will to join oneself to something or someone, he considers all these passion as forms of love. However,
he makes one essential distinction.
The glory seeker, the miser, the drunkard and the rapist, he says, only seek possession
of an object for their own use and pleasure without regard of the good of the object. In this kind of love,even human persons
are treated as mere instruments of use for pleasure. The fried, the lover, and the good father, on the other hand, wish
for the good of those they love. In this kind of love, the lover will oftensacrifice his own interests for the sakeof the
However, Descartes rejects the tradional distinction between "
concupiscent " and " benevolent " love, because he thinks that in actual psychological reality,
the two are always interwined. We feel benevolent toward what we wish to be united with and we also desire it., " if
we judge that it is good to possess it...in some way other than through the will ". It would seem then, that the merely
instrumental relations are not really love, except in some formal or empty sense.
The kind of love embodied in the love - mistress relation is sexual or erotic love. Many people
regard it as a definitive form odf love, with all other forms of love as metaphors or sublimations of
it. Others regard it as mere self - satisfaction, and hence, not really love at all. Tolstoy, a notable opponent
of the eratic in his later years, called it " this false feeling that men call love, and which no more resembles
love than the life of an animal resembles the life of a man ".
However, the attempt to reduce sexual love to mere selfish gratification meets with
some difficulty. In the first place, it is an important element of conjugal love, upon which the family, that model
of benevolent union, is founded. Secondly, even on the physical and aesthetic level, mutuality and benevolence are essential
for the ideal consummation of sexual love. Thirdly, it is extremely difficult, if not impossible, to separate the physical
and the spiritual in such an intimate human relation.
Something of this inseparability is suggested by the word used in the Bible for the sexual relation. The
wprd is " knowing ". Perhaps this indicates that in this, as in all true love relations, persons come to know
one another in their fullness and uniqueness. And in so doing they may also come to know themselves. Many persons first
realize their own essence and worth in lovong and being loved by another person.
Cynics and pundits call such personal knowledge in erotic love " idealization " or " over
- valuation " of the love object. But perhaps what they call " idealization " is simply realization of
what exists potentially in the beloved person and is first actualized in love. This will be true also on the external level
of physical beauty. That the homely face of a person we love appears beautiful to us is a common human experience.
An instance of this is provided in the recent novel, A New Life, by Bernard
Malamud, in which the hero falls in love with a woman who is almost completely regarded as essential
to feminine charm. Yet he comes to find her flat - chestedness beautiful and right, for it is an attribute of a woman he love.
the marital state...
Ancient and primitive man regarded marriage,
like birth and death, as one of the decisive moments in human life. It was accordingly attended by the
most solemn religious ceremonies, to mark the crucial " jump " that is involved in the transition from the single
to the wedding state. Through solemnly sanctioned marriage, the individual was empowered to create the small community of
the family and thus, to join actively in maintaining the great community of the race.
We would like to think that we are more matter - of - fact about marriage, and not affected
by any sense of awe at the supposed prospect of " a new life ". But the figure of the nervous and apprehensive
bridegroom still seems to be with us, and our jokes about weddings and about marriage in general may indicate something of
our own anxious awareness of the potent change involved. Perhaps marriage, like adolescence, can be made into something automatic
in modern society, but human nature may prove to be refractory to such a transformation.
In the revered beginnings of our own religious tradition, the union of man and woman is held
to be essential to the attainment of the full humanity as well as to the continuance of the human race.." Male and Female
created he them; and blessed them, and called their name Adam ( Man ), in the day when they were created. " The association
of this basic idea with the precept to increase and multiply was tradionally understood to imply a divine command to marriage
- God first commandment to man.
In the ancient Judaism, not to be married was considered abnormal and wrong..." An unmarried
man is not a man in the full sense "..says the Talmud. A similar attitude was prevalent in ancient Greece
and Rome, where remaining unmarried was considered an impious affront to the family Gods.
Moreover, celibacy seemend to have been forbidden by law or subject of certain penalties in ancient Rome, in
Sparta and other Greek city - states. The ancient attitude was that the individual has no right to halt
the transmission of the family and racial life that has been handled on to him.
It is hard for us today to grasp this collective or communal attitude towards marriage. We tend to think
of it almost wholly in terms of individual choice, preference and decision, as a personal agreement between individuals rather
than as solemn event involving the whole community. And, above all, we assocciate it with romantic love, agreement withthe
popular song that .." love and marriage go together like a horse and carriage ".
That romantique love should normally be fullfilled within the marriage relation is a comparatively
recent edea in Western Society, one which has flamed into popularity only within the past centuries.
Certainly it would have astonished the ancients who either did not make such satisfaction a central concern of their lives,
or sought it outside of marriage.
Hegel, a German philosopher who dealt with all things systematically, has provided us with
a systemic view of love and marriage. According to this, the natural union of male and female to carry on the race attains
the ethical quality of marriage when it is based on the free consent of the two parties and culminates.." in the
love, trust and common sharing in their entire existence as individuals ". But marriage involves something far wider
than individual fullfillment, for it is the first step in the making of the family, the primary form of the human community,
that is ultimately fullfilled in the great society of the state. Hegel associates the substantial ethical bond
of marriage with what he calls..." ethici - legal love " as opposed to the merely subjective feeling, desire, or
interest which we often call.." love ". Therefore he considers the formal wedding ceremony, an indispensable element
of a real marriage, as a necessary sanction, not as superflous formality.