Love is not a stand-alone concept but weaves together diverse meanings: sexual, romantic, parental, brotherly/sisterly love, love of God, and love of self. It is controversial whether these diverse kinds of love rightly share the same name.
Ancient Greek distinctions of love include eros, philia, and agape (Helm, 2009). Although there are clear behavioral differences, the theoretical distinctions can blur. Eros is passionate desire which is acquisitive, conditional on the value of the object loved, and somewhat selfish as it involves identification with the other. Philia also responds to the good qualities in another but is more affectionate than sexual. Agape is familial love experienced independent of the value of the object. While not necessarily rational, such love may be understood in terms of shared history.
Although recognized as overlapping in scope, Helm (2009) identifies four classes of theories of love: love as (1) union, (2) concern, (3) valuing,...
- Bowlby, J. (1969). Attachment and loss (Attachment, Vol. 1). New York, NY: Basic Books.Google Scholar
- Butler, J. (1990). Gender trouble: Feminism and the subversion of identity. New York, NY: Routledge.Google Scholar
- Fisher, H. (2004). Why we love: The nature and chemistry of romantic love. New York, NY: Henry Holt.Google Scholar
- Freud, S. (1958). On the universal tendency to debasement in the sphere of love. In J. Strachey (Ed. & Trans.), The standard edition of the complete psychological works of Sigmund Freud (Vol. 11, pp. 177–190). London: Hogarth Press. (Original work published 1912).Google Scholar
- Helm, B. (2009). Love. In E. N. Zalta (Ed.), The Stanford encyclopedia of philosophy. Retrieved January 10, 2013, from http://plato.stanford.edu/archives/fall2009/entries/love/
- Jung, C. G. (1966). The psychology of the transference. In H. Read, M. Fordham, G. Adler, & W. McGuire (Eds.) & R. F. C. Hull (Trans.), The collected works of C. G. Jung (Vol. 16, 2nd ed., pp. 163–201). Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press. (Original work published 1946).Google Scholar
- Krishnamurti, J. (1993). On love and loneliness. New York, NY: HarperCollins.Google Scholar