Author Topic: Four kinds of love  (Read 1550 times)

Bu☆ns

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Four kinds of love
« on: May 18, 2012, 05:26:00 am »
I've been checking out this idea of love by the French Monk Bernard de Clairvaux.  He breaks down the love of God into four components in is work, The Four Loves.  IMO, however, it seems like we can attribute these four loves in terms of any relationship where love applies.  And, I'd even suggest that serving others in our relationships isn't different than serving "God" in the Christian sense of the word.

Love #1: I love me for the benefit of me.

Basically the  toddler. It's the most primal--yet, in a sense, its' also the foundation for the rest of the loves because it's through this self love that we can understand loving others. The old adage: you can't love others if you don't love yourself applies but it's very superficial and primal.

Love #2: Loving god for self's sake or loving others for one's benefit.

i think this is the most common form of relationships. The whole "I want youuuuuuuuuu to want meeeee" shtick. It's selfish but it's a good start too. I mean we objectify others to whom we're naturally attracted. But then there's that quality of neediness present and it gets in the way. Then we talk about things like, "you're not being who i need you to be" and so on.

Love #3: Loving God for the benefit of god or Loving others for their own sake.

Total horseshit. it's the 'martyr syndrome.' But, i think, also a stage. I think in modern times it's more or less the "nice guy" syndrome. Although hidden in the "nice guy" syndrome is, again, that primal sense of selfishness. It seems it's a lot like Love #1 but posturing in terms of others and it's inevitably going to end with the lover feeling disenchanted or, as shown during those times of persecution, eventual death. I think these days it comes about as more a form of unconscious manipulation. i.e. "I do SOOOOOO much for you, why don't I ever get anything in return!!!"

Anyway -- lets move on to the last love...


Love #4: It's the highest in Bernard's system. It's loving God for the benefit of self or loving others for the benefit of self.

It's taking your role in life and cultivating yourself to the utmost potential and through that process serving others (or god...no difference). It's through cultivating your innermost qualities, your talents. It's leadership in the most profound sense of the word and through this goal we can help others by modeling the way. It's both self focused as well as focus on others because it's through our work on our self that we can be MOST effective in serving others. If we're laying a trip on others like in love #3 or #2 we're just posturing. I'd even suggest that it's touching on the same idea that Krshna talks about in the Gita in regards to Karma yoga or yoga of action: The idea of taking what you have, right now, and working with that as a method of understanding the universe.



Not to get all preachy, here...but this model has taken a rather dramatic change in my relationship with my kids and I thought that I'd share it with you.  :)
« Last Edit: May 18, 2012, 05:36:28 am by Bu☆ns »

Tiddleywomp Cockletit

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Re: Four kinds of love
« Reply #1 on: May 18, 2012, 08:51:55 am »
2 and 4 look like the same thing until you actually read everything. Then it makes sense.
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Bu☆ns

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Re: Four kinds of love
« Reply #2 on: May 18, 2012, 11:51:38 am »
Right, #4 is follows the same idea like when you're getting your preflight speech on an airplane telling you to put the mask over your face before you do your child's.

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Re: Four kinds of love
« Reply #3 on: May 18, 2012, 12:35:46 pm »
I don't get your problem with #3? I agree that it's probably not the most virtuous or "efficient" type, especially in comparison with #4 (where you do good for others but also maximise your own potential, making it more powerful).

But "total horseshit"? It is real, and not just in a "nice guy" syndrome type of way. Unless I'm understanding it wrong, but I'm reminded of my past relationship, it's been half a year now and I still love her, not that I'm "in love", but we had been together for 3 years and I still care deeply about her and how she's doing and want her to be happy. But this can't be selfish, because she moved far away, and we really don't have that much contact anymore, I would not benefit from her happiness, I just feel she deserves to be happy. Possibly this feeling might fade with time (or more likely future relationships), but right now it is there and it is real.

I also disagree with the inevitable primal selfishness you see in it. Just that it is inevitable, though, I won't say it doesn't happen, a lot. Case in point: I've been that nice guy for years when I was younger--not particularly with girls or anything but rather selfless, providing the listening ear for all sorts of troubles my peers went through. I just did that because I was good at it, listening. And I've always been a bit slow to pick up on concepts of "social currency", so it wasn't until years later that I found how much trust and slack this had earned me when I needed to lean on those friends myself. If you didnt expect a benefit, you can't be selfish about it right? Of course the feeling of "I'm good at this" provided me with some sort of validation, but that hardly weighs up. Or maybe it does, it's really the only reward I actually respond to, everything else is just "stuff".
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Bu☆ns

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Re: Four kinds of love
« Reply #4 on: May 18, 2012, 01:23:34 pm »
Yeah I was probably a bit hasty to say "total horseshit" especially with how I followed it up. 

Good call out :) .

I think it's all sort of outlining a gradual process of understanding.  I also think it was much colored by my OWN process.  By being the 'nice guy' is, imo, walking a slippery slope.  A lot of trappings of manipulation from nice guys who act selfless and then secretly harbor resentment because they're not getting anything in return.

I think that #3 is very virtuous at the onset.  The wanting to do for others in a seemingly selfless way.  The flip side, however, is being virtuous for selfish (Love #1) reasons.  People who fall into this trap (or stage...in the sense of... this is how we learn through life experience) i think are people who want to be overly spiritual or, it think the term is, "phony holy." The idea that "i wanna be holy but I'm doing it for selfish reasons." 

The primal selfishness I'm referring to is a reference to #1 since #3 seems to sprout from the root of #1.  In the end, though, it's through stages 1-3 that we can fully understand #4.

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Re: Four kinds of love
« Reply #5 on: May 19, 2012, 01:55:09 am »
This is great. I followed a link Cain put up once (can't remember, some great political blog) which had a list of advice. One piece of advice was 'seek practical, not explanatory models'. Actually it may have been 'predictive' but Practical is also good. This works well as a practical model, and beats the crap out of Eros, Philios and Agape.
If sheep entrails could in any way be related to the weather, i.e. sheep trails only originate where it rains, then you could use it as an accurate model for discerning what the weathers going to be like. Either, sheep shit makes it rain, or raining makes sheep shit. Sheep don't shit "randomly" sheep shit after they eat, it doesn't rain "randomly" it rains after water collects in the atmosphere.

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Re: Four kinds of love
« Reply #6 on: May 19, 2012, 04:59:01 am »
I was talking about this with a coworker today and he brought up the Greek meanings.  It occurred to me that Eros, for instance, sort of gives a greater validation (in some sense) to the love #1 and it's not as superficial and base as I might have originally suspected.

I wonder, now, how Agape might relate to love #4.  Could #4 be a practical approach to a human expression of Agape?

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Re: Four kinds of love
« Reply #7 on: May 19, 2012, 05:28:53 am »
I am not sure I'm on board with typifying these "types of love" at all. There are variously valid reasons each type is equally valid at various stages of development, but more so, there are reasons each may be expressed by people in varying states of estrangement from social contact.
“I’m guessing it was January 2007, a meeting in Bethesda, we got a bag of bees and just started smashing them on the desk,” Charles Wick said. “It was very complicated.”

“People get used to anything. The less you think about your oppression, the more your tolerance for it grows. After a while, people just think oppression is the normal state of things. But to become free, you have to be acutely aware of being a slave.”
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The Right Reverend Nigel

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Re: Four kinds of love
« Reply #8 on: May 19, 2012, 05:30:04 am »
Essentially, I should probably SHUT UP.
“I’m guessing it was January 2007, a meeting in Bethesda, we got a bag of bees and just started smashing them on the desk,” Charles Wick said. “It was very complicated.”

“People get used to anything. The less you think about your oppression, the more your tolerance for it grows. After a while, people just think oppression is the normal state of things. But to become free, you have to be acutely aware of being a slave.”
― Assata Shaku

Tiddleywomp Cockletit

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Re: Four kinds of love
« Reply #9 on: May 19, 2012, 08:42:31 am »
No, don't shut up, it's fun trying to parse this stuff.

I've seen it explained that Eros is impersonal, it's "the zeal of the organs for each other", Amor is personal, it's about a particular person, and Agape is kind of a higher octave of Eros in the sense that it's also impersonal, but it's selfless. Like when you put youself in danger to save a some strangers ass.

I don't buy the inherent selfishness thing either, sometimes we really don't give a fuck about ourselves and it's all about somebody else.
That tend to come and go, though.
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Re: Four kinds of love
« Reply #10 on: May 19, 2012, 02:27:44 pm »
In some ways, this seems to mirror the Ancient Greek typologies of love:

1. Storge (maybe)
2. Eros
3. Platonic
4. Agape

It's not a perfect fit, but it's close enough to suggest Bernard was influenced by C.S. Lewis's The Four Loves, which is actually a pretty excellent read, regardless of your opinions on Christianity.
"The thoughts of all men arise from the darkness. If you are the movement of your soul, and the cause of that movement precedes you, then how could you ever call your thoughts your own? How could you be anything other than a slave to the darkness that comes before? Only the Logos allows one to mitigate that slavery. Only knowing the sources of thought and action allows us to own our thoughts and our actions, to throw off the yoke of circumstance."
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Bu☆ns

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Re: Four kinds of love
« Reply #11 on: May 19, 2012, 06:08:30 pm »
I am not sure I'm on board with typifying these "types of love" at all. There are variously valid reasons each type is equally valid at various stages of development, but more so, there are reasons each may be expressed by people in varying states of estrangement from social contact.

I think that's a good observation.  I was considering it in a linear progression and never even though of it going backwards.  That seems to add another dimension.

Essentially, I should probably SHUT UP.

uh, okay?

No, don't shut up, it's fun trying to parse this stuff.

I've seen it explained that Eros is impersonal, it's "the zeal of the organs for each other", Amor is personal, it's about a particular person, and Agape is kind of a higher octave of Eros in the sense that it's also impersonal, but it's selfless. Like when you put youself in danger to save a some strangers ass.

That clarifies it a bit more for me, thanks.

I don't buy the inherent selfishness thing either, sometimes we really don't give a fuck about ourselves and it's all about somebody else.
That tend to come and go, though.

Yeah you folks have changes my opinion about that and, like you say, it comes and goes...I think that's where I was getting stuck earlier.

In some ways, this seems to mirror the Ancient Greek typologies of love:

1. Storge (maybe)
2. Eros
3. Platonic
4. Agape

It's not a perfect fit, but it's close enough to suggest Bernard was influenced by C.S. Lewis's The Four Loves, which is actually a pretty excellent read, regardless of your opinions on Christianity.

Heh, my coworker also mentioned checking out that work.  I think I might check that out soon.

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Re: Four kinds of love
« Reply #12 on: May 20, 2012, 11:57:19 am »
In some ways, this seems to mirror the Ancient Greek typologies of love:

1. Storge (maybe)
2. Eros
3. Platonic
4. Agape

It's not a perfect fit, but it's close enough to suggest Bernard was influenced by C.S. Lewis's The Four Loves, which is actually a pretty excellent read, regardless of your opinions on Christianity.

Hmmm, Lewis defines Eros a little differently, what I've heard called Eros he calls Venus...definitely worth reading.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Four_Loves
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Re: Four kinds of love
« Reply #13 on: May 20, 2012, 12:31:56 pm »
In some ways, this seems to mirror the Ancient Greek typologies of love:

1. Storge (maybe)
2. Eros
3. Platonic
4. Agape

It's not a perfect fit, but it's close enough to suggest Bernard was influenced by C.S. Lewis's The Four Loves, which is actually a pretty excellent read, regardless of your opinions on Christianity.

Hmmm, Lewis defines Eros a little differently, what I've heard called Eros he calls Venus...definitely worth reading.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Four_Loves

Yeah, ditto that. I actually think a bit more of that model having browsed that overview.
If sheep entrails could in any way be related to the weather, i.e. sheep trails only originate where it rains, then you could use it as an accurate model for discerning what the weathers going to be like. Either, sheep shit makes it rain, or raining makes sheep shit. Sheep don't shit "randomly" sheep shit after they eat, it doesn't rain "randomly" it rains after water collects in the atmosphere.

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Re: Four kinds of love
« Reply #14 on: May 21, 2012, 08:36:50 pm »
OK:
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In some ways, this seems to mirror the Ancient Greek typologies of love:

1. Storge (maybe)
2. Eros
3. Platonic
4. Agape

It's not a perfect fit, but it's close enough to suggest Bernard was influenced by C.S. Lewis's The Four Loves, which is actually a pretty excellent read, regardless of your opinions on Christianity.

Hmmm, Lewis defines Eros a little differently, what I've heard called Eros he calls Venus...definitely worth reading.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Four_Loves

Yeah, ditto that. I actually think a bit more of that model having browsed that overview.