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  • 1. What is Love?A Conceptual Analysis of "Love", focusing on theLove Theories of Plato, St. Augustine and FreudNico Nuyens GRIPh Working Papers No. 0901 This paper can be downloaded without charge from the GRIPh Working Paper Series website: http//www.rug.nl/filosofie/GRIPh/workingpapers
  • 2. What is love? A Conceptual Analysis of “Love”, focusing on the Love Theories of Plato, St. Augustine and FreudCONTENTSINTRODUCTION............................................................................................................. 11. FORMAL ANALYSIS OF LOVE............................................................................... 32. SEMANTIC ANALYSIS OF LOVE........................................................................... 63. HISTORICAL ANALYSIS OF LOVE....................................................................... 9 3.1 ANCIENT GREEK PHILOSOPHY: PLATO ..................................................................... 11 3.2 CHRISTIAN PHILOSOPHY: SAINT AUGUSTINE............................................................ 18 3.3 MODERN PHILOSOPHY: FREUD ................................................................................. 274. COMPARATIVE EVALUATION............................................................................ 37CONCLUSIONS ............................................................................................................. 40REFERENCES................................................................................................................ 43
  • 3. IntroductionThe starting point of this paper is the question: “What is love?”, or, in other words, howcan we understand or even define the concept of love? To clarify this question we have toapproach the problem systematically. Love is no natural kind, nor is it a substance of anabstract kind. It seems to be an empirical phenomenon, since we encounter it almostevery day. It is, however, not an empirical concept in the sense that we can empiricallydecide whether something is love or not. In everyday situations we use “love” in a greatvariety of meanings, but still, and maybe exactly because of that, we are not quite able tosay what it exactly means. We say for instance: 1) “Romeo loves Juliet”; 2) “Odysseusloves Penelope”; 3) “Abraham loves his son Isaak”; 4) “Humbert loves Lolita”; 5) “Epi-curus loves champagne and caviar”; 6) “Boudewijn Büch loves books”; 7) “William Wal-lace loves Scotland”; 8) “Jesus loves you”; 9) “This chemical loves water”; and finally 10)“Socrates loves wisdom”. In all these sentences, the sense in which “love” is used differs. Romeo’s love forJuliet is highly romantic, whereas Odysseus’ love for Penelope is an instance of matri-monial love, in which honour and obligation towards the spouse is prominent. Someother examples prove to be even more distinct from love as we would normally under-stand it. Loving your wife, for instance, means something quite different from lovingyour books, for whereas the former is love for a person, the latter relates to a set of non-personal objects. But still, both occasions can be, arguably, interpreted as something like“the desire to be with it and care for it”, if we accept this as a provisional and rather intui-tive definition of love. For a true bibliophile it is not unusual to have a deep emotionalrelationship with his or her books. And this feeling can become so strong that the love forother things – including relations to human loved ones – is neglected. In some cases, hu-man loved ones may even become jealous of the other object of love. It may sound, ofcourse, a bit odd to be jealous with a book, but such reactions do have their plausibilitywhen we realize that true bibliophiles often pay more attention to books than to humanloved ones. Obviously, what we perceive as the object of love may differ greatly. Evenwhen individual persons, such as spouses, family members and (girl/boy) friends are ad-mittedly the first that come to mind if we think about the meaning of love, this does notnecessarily mean that non-living things or activities, such as a country, a God or some 1
  • 4. abstract value or entity, cannot be loved. It, hence, turns out that almost anything can be-come an object of love. But what about the other way around: Can we say that everythingis capable of loving? This seems not to be the case, since, normally, we consider onlyhumans, and perhaps also some higher animals to have that ability. From a biologicalperspective the love of God for human beings and vice versa may be a difficult case sincethe existence of a supreme being capable of loving falls outside the scope of the modernscientific worldview. For our purposes, however, which are philosophical, it should notbe a problem to deal with the love of an individual for God in the sense of a personifiedabstract entity. Moreover, as we shall see later on in this paper, the love of God andGod’s love for his creation has actually been an important subject of study for many cen-turies and, hence, needs to be taken very seriously. When looking at the great variety of meanings in which “love” is used, it becomesclear that it is a very broad concept. If we want to get a full understanding of the scopeand possible meanings of love, the following research questions require an answer.1. What is the formal structure of love?2. What sorts of things can love and what sorts can be loved?3. What are the ‘causes’ and ‘effects’ of love?4. What is the relation between sexual and non-sexual love?5. What is the relation between love and philosophy?6. What do we mean by “true love”?In Chapter 1 I start the analysis of the formal structure of the concept of love, since thiscounts as an important preliminary for further investigation. The second question, con-cerning what sorts of things can love and what sorts can be loved, that is, the semanticanalysis of the concept, is dealt with in Chapter 2. For the remaining four research ques-tions I have chosen the strategy of providing a historical analysis, which reconstructsthree attempts to explicate the concepts of love by three established experts on this issue:Plato (Section 3.1), St. Augustine (Section 3.2) and Freud (Section 3.3)1. Of course, many1 Scholz 1929 distinguishes merely the first two concepts of love as „die beiden größten Gestalten derLiebe auf dem Boden des Abendlandes“, but he is in a way excused for this, since he wrote this work as 2
  • 5. other philosophers have expressed themselves on the topic of love, but since I have tolimit the scope of this paper and think it is better to make a selection of the most impor-tant and influential ideas on this topic, I shall confine myself to these three authors. Theyrepresent, in a way, the different worldviews in which the various concepts of love areembedded. Plato represents the ancient Greek worldview, Saint Augustine stands for theChristian worldview, and Freud is characteristic of the modern scientific approach tosexuality and love. I am aware of the fact that in this way I generalise greatly, but con-sider this to be necessary as I feel that the most important concepts are sufficiently dealtwith.2 My strategy is to focus on the concept of love expressed by each author with theintention of formalising their views in a form that allows them to be compared with eachother. In Chapter 4 the three concepts of love are evaluated in the context of the researchquestions as mentioned above.1. Formal analysis of loveIn this chapter the mere logical form of the concept of love is considered, without lookingat its possible semantic content. In order to determine these formal characteristics theverb of the substantiated form should be taken, for it appears that the noun “love” is a de-rivative form of the verb “loves”. This becomes obvious if we look at the sentences men-tioned in the Introduction. Love here operates syntactically as a verb3, which indicatesthat “love” is not a substance or a natural kind, but a logical relation. The next step is todetermine, with the help of practical examples, how many and which aspects or variablesare possible and necessary in this relation, which is expressed in syntactically and seman-tically sound sentences expressing love. It then turns out quickly that love is a relationalconcept in which two aspects are involved: the lover and the loved one, or to put it differ-early as 1929, and hence could not have been fully aware of the later importance of Freud’s work. Morgan1964 and Santas 1988 on the other hand do recognize the significance of Freud as a major theorist of love.2 Helmut Kuhn gave in his work Liebe: Geschichte eines Begriffs (1975) a very helpful overview of thedifferent concepts of love throughout the history of philosophy. Unfortunately he did not include Freud’stheory in his analysis.3 One obvious exception is the expression: „is in love with“, which designates the strong and sometimessuddenly occuring feeling of being in love. Essentially, that is, formally, there is no difference in logicalstructure between „is in love with“ and „loves“. 3
  • 6. ently, the amans and the amandum.4 The correctness of this statement is easily shown,since if the verb „to love“ occurs with only one variable, it will prove to be not informa-tive, as in the phrase „John loves“5 we feel that something is missing. To know that “Johnloves” is not enough; we want to know what he loves. Even if one is to claim that such asentence is syntactically and semantically possible, it must be admitted that obviouslysome information is missing or left implicit: namely the object of John’s love. This objectof love need not be a concrete physical or even ontological object, distinct from the per-son who loves. If we say that John loves himself, this is a perfectly well formed andmeaningful sentence, which allows for one physical object to be both the epistemologicalsubject and epistemological object of love. Self-love is, thus, a relation between the selfas a subject and the self as an object. What I want to make clear with this example is thatif we take as a starting point syntactically sound sentences that express a love relation, wefind that there always must be a grammatical subject as well as an object. Of course, loverelations are not just sentences, they are statements about reality, but for some kinds oflove no fitting physical object can be found. Therefore, when I speak of the “subject oflove” and the “object of love”, I refer to the epistemological meaning of that term, andnot to the grammatical or ontological meaning. In the table below an overview of thevarious types of meaning is given. Type of meaning The subject variable (amans) The object variable (amandum) Grammatical meaning the grammatical subject the grammatical object Epistemological meaning the epistemological subject the epistemological object Ontological meaning the lover, i.e. Romeo the beloved, i.e. JulietIn all concepts of love there is someone or something that loves, and someone or some-thing that is being loved. This leads to the statement that there are two necessary and suf-4 See also Kuhn, p. 10 who says that „Vielerlei wird Liebe genannt. Aber immer benennt das Wort eineBeziehung zwischen mindestens zwei Partnern, einem Liebenden und einem Geliebten.“ Kuhn states that„at least“ two partners are required, so that also love between three or more people can be accounted for.What I am talking about, however, are no concrete physical objects of love, but rather conceptual. The ob-jects Kuhn is referring to are no conceptual aspects, but ontological objects.5 Or, alternatively, “John is being loved”. 4
  • 7. ficient aspects in a love-relation. Even when A loves both B and C, this is not a three-sided relation, but two two-sided relations; namely that A loves B and A loves C. Thistwo-sided relation is technically referred to as a dyadic relation.6 This insight is signifi-cant for the formal analysis, since the logic of dyadic relations admits of three logicalcharacteristics: symmetry, transitivity, and reflexivity. With respect to ‘symmetry’, dy-adic relations can be symmetrical, asymmetrical or non-symmetrical. A symmetrical rela-tion is a relation such that if one thing has that relation to a second, then the second musthave that relation to the first. An asymmetrical relation on the other hand, says that thesecond cannot have that relation to the first. Non-symmetrical relations finally, are de-fined as such that they are neither symmetrical nor asymmetrical. Now, in the case of aspecific love relation, such as between Romeo and Juliet, it may well be that the relationis symmetrical (this would mean that their love is reciprocal), but if we purely look at theformal structure of the love relation itself, we see that it can only be a non-symmetricalrelation, since it is possible, but not necessary that the object of love returns this love tothe subject.7 The characteristic of ‘transitivity’ means for dyadic relations that they can beeither transitive or intransitive or non-transitive.8 A transitive relation is a relation suchthat if one thing has it to a second, and the second has it to the third, then the first musthave it to the third. For an intransitive relation this cannot be the case, and non-transitiverelations are neither intransitive nor transitive. Again, in particular for love relations itmight be possible that they are transitive (in the case that Socrates loves Alcibiades, Al-cibiades loves Agathon, and Socrates for this reason loves Agathon as well), but this iscertainly not logically necessary. So formally, love relations are non-transitive. The thirdand last characteristic of dyadic relations is ‘reflexivity’. This means that any relation ofthis kind is either reflexive, irreflexive or nonreflexive. For reflexive relations it goes thatA not only loves B, but A also loves A, i.e., itself. Irreflexive relations exclude this pos-siblity, whereas non-reflexive relations are neither reflexive, nor irreflexive. According toCopi “loves” is an example of such a non-reflexive relation, since although it is possible,6 Copi, Irving, Symbolic Locic, Fourth Edition. New York: 1973 (first edition: 1954), The Macmillan Com-pany, p 130.7 Copi, p. 131. In Goethe’s Das Leiden des Jungen Werthers, for instance, was Werther’s love for Lotte(tragically) not returned by her. The notion that true love can only exist if the two aspects (the subject andthe object) of a love relation love each other equally is interesting, but seems not to be necessary to fulfillthe logical criteria of the relation of love. 5
  • 8. it is not necessary that the subject of love loves itself as well as the object.9 So to sum up,the following characteristics of the formal structure of love can be given:1. Love is a dyadic relation,2. which has two necessary and sufficient epistemological variables, and which is3. non-symmetrical,4. non-transitive, and5. non-reflexive.These characteristics provide the logical framework for the semantic analysis of the con-cept, which I shall discuss now.2. Semantic analysis of loveFollowing the formal analysis, the next step is to determine the possible semantic contentof the two aspects of love: the amans and the amandum. That is, we should try to answerthe question, what sorts of things can love and what sorts of things can be loved? First,we must ask ourselves what kind of entities they are. There are, in my view, three maincategories of entities: ontic, epistemic and semeiotic entities,10 which could constitute thesemantic content of either the amans or the amandum. With respect to the amans we cansay that for instance, in German, the verb loves to be at the end of long and complicatedsentences. But, obviously „love“ is here only used in a metaphorical sense, that is, theverb does not literally “loves” to be at the end of sentences. What the speaker wants toexpress is that there is this linguistic phenomenon in the German language that verbs tendto occur at the end of sentence, thereby making it difficult for beginners in German tograsp long sentences in one time. Similarly, with respect to epistemic entities, we can saythat a sentence like „the idea that I will fail my exam tomorrow loves to occupy my8 Copi, p. 131.9 Copi, p. 130-132 specifically mentions “love” as an example for non-symmetric, non-transitive and non-reflexive relations.10 Ontic entities are things that exist in space and time, and can be considered to be material, such as a cator a table. Epistemic entities on the other hand have no such physical extension, but are indirectly existen-tially dependent on a material brain to think them. All concepts, thoughts, ideas, mental representations and 6
  • 9. mind“ is metaphorical, for we would translate it as something like „I am very occupiedwith the idea that I will fail my exam tomorrow“. Neither words nor ideas are able to as-sume the place of the subject variable in a love relation. So only the category of ontic en-tities remains as a candidate to be a lover. However, we generally think that not all mate-rial things are capable of loving. According to the common sense view, the amans mustbe a sentient living organism11, such as a human or some kind of animal. Plants and inor-ganic things, however, are usually not considered to be capable of loving. Again, the oc-currence of sentences like “this plant loves to be watered” and “that plant loves the sun”prima facie seem to prove the opposite, but what is really meant here is that, generally,plants cannot survive without some periodic quantity of water and sunshine.12 In order tocreate some preliminary structure in the overwhelmingly broad concept of love I proposethe schema in Figure 1, by using semantic criteria for the subject and object variable oflove. This model is not to be taken as the only possible one, nor as reflecting a monolithicreality, but as a heuristic proposal making further investigation easier. 1 Absolute love 2a Proper love 2b Metaphorical love 3a Human love 3b Divine and cosmic love 4a Inter-human 4b object love love 5a Sexual love 5b Non-sexual loveFigure 1: A model for distinguishing different conceptions of love.emotions can be subsumed under this category, such as the idea of a cat or the thought of a table. Semeioticentities are ontic expressions of epistemic or ontic entities, such as the words „cat“ and „table“.11 See also Santas, p. 4, who says: “there is minimal agreement, I think, that lovers are sentient beings, ca-pable of some perception or thought and feeling. Animals, humans and divine beings can fall under thischaracterization, but there is disagreement whether divine beings can love, and whether al non-human ani-mals can be lovers.”12 Similarly we say of certain chemicals that they are hydrophile (water loving) for the reason that they areattracted to water or mix well with it. In the same way the Greek philosopher Heracleitus onceaphoristically said that „nature loves to hide“ (McKirahan, p. 14). 7
  • 10. I start with the very broad notion of “absolute love” (concept 1), which includes all non-symmetrical, non-transitive and non-reflexive dyadic relations, of which the epistemo-logical subject loves the object. For each following phase a semantic criterion is added,which distinguishes between instances of love that meet the criterion and those that donot. The first distinction is drawn between love relations of which the subject of love isrestricted to persons (concept 2a), which may be called “proper love”, and those whichare not (concept 2b). The latter category applies to the love relations already mentionedabove, and which can be called “non-proper” or “metaphorical love”. The chemical forinstance does not ‘really’ love the water, but is “attracted” to it in a purely physical sense.So being a lover in the proper sense seems only possible for sentient living organisms,which we consider to be persons.13 But this concept still includes many things, since per-sons are not necessarily identical with humans. A divine being might be said to be capa-ble of love as well as some animal, if we anthropomorphically regard it to be a person.But also the possibility for “machine love” must be kept open since we cannot excludethat some day artificial intelligence may become so advanced that we may call it an intel-ligent life form that is capable of love.14 To exclude these categories of love, we apply thecriterion that the subject of love is restricted to humans (concept 3a). Human love nowexcludes instances of non-human love, such as divine and cosmic love, animal love andmachine love (concept 3b). One may justifiably object that the limitation of the subject oflove to persons and even to humans is arbitrary, since the formal essence of love only in-cludes the relation between a subject and an object. Strictly speaking this is true: there isno good reason to exclude non-persons or non-humans from love. The point is, however, that all identified problems of love are related to humanlove (concept 3a). Further, only the research question concerning the relation betweenlove and philosophy applies to a concept of love that is not inter-human or “object love”(concept 4b), since the object of love is not another human but an epistemic, semeiotic, ornon-human ontic entity. All other forms of love are inter-human love (concept 4a). This13 See also Kuhn, p 11: „Der Liebende – um zuerst von ihm zu sprechen – muss jedenfalls ein lebendigeswesen sein. Liebe als Beziehung ist eine Lebensbeziehung – nur lebendiges kann lieben“.14 In his book De ijzeren wil (The Iron Will), Bas Haring claims that machines can have emotions, and arecapable of loving. He notes: „…we must conclude that it is possible for machines to have emotions. Realemotions. In any case just as real as our emotions. Machines can really love the sun, and be afraid ofdeath“ (Haring, p. 122). 8
  • 11. former type of love includes the love for abstract and material entities, such as a man’slove for wisdom, books, or his country. The final distinction can be made between humanlove that we perceive to be erotic or sexual in nature, and love that is not. This is ofcourse highly problematic, because it is exactly the point that is hard to determine, whatis meant by “sexual” and what is not. As we shall see, the three authors that will be dis-cussed in the following chapters all account for “inter-human love” differently, so thisinterpretation should only be taken as an informal and intuitive distinction.15 The mainfocus of concept explication should be on the kind of love relation between two humanbeings, since most research questions are related to inter-human love. This focus, how-ever, must not be too exclusive since we do not want to rule out the possibility of a hu-man having a non-human object or even a personal God as an object of love.3. Historical analysis of loveOne of the first accounts of love we find in stories on cosmogony of Greek literature andphilosophy. Love here is a power to unite.16 It finds its expression in ancient poems ofheroic and tragic events, and was later used in philosophy as a cosmological principle toexplain what holds the world together, and why it falls apart when love is missing. Thetragic but necessary relation between love and strife is one of the most fundamental mo-tives of nearly all ancient literature. According to the Greek poet, Hesiod, everythingstarted when Chaos and Earth mated. Their first offspring is Eros: the most beautiful ofall immortal Gods.17 For Hesiod love is not only erotic love (érōs), that is, a blind forcethat suddenly and violently disturbs the ordered life, but also philótēs, the affinity withrelatives and friends, which is imperative for a well ordered life. This double nature oflove would later on in ancient philosophy be an important subject of thought. Érōs andphilía (or philótēs) are in a way opposite, but at the same time both undisputed instances15 See also Santas, p. 9, who distinguishes three basic concepts of love, which are philia, agape and Eros.Philia includes familial love (parental love, filial love and sibling love) as well as friendship. Agape (Chris-tian love) includes the love of God for his “children”, the love of man for God, and the love of man forneighbor. Eros is the sexual love between male and female, male and male, or between female and female.16 Kuhn, p 30.17 Kuhn, p. 34. 9
  • 12. of love.18 The philosophy of Empedocles included a cosmogonic theory in which philótēsis the uniting force, which holds all things together, including the human body.19 In Plato’s days, the common word for love was Eros. It meant, generally, “need”or “desire,” a reaching out for whatever one lacked. Originally and characteristically, aman felt Eros toward another human being in the sense of sexual desire. As the termbroadened, a man could be said to erei money or music or sculpture or poetry; towardwhatever he yearned for, he felt Eros. In addition, especially in later Hellenistic times aman could broadly and generally be said to agapei anything towards which he felt Eros;the words were not sharply distinguished, except that the noun for love was almost al-ways Eros, while the verb could be either eran or agapan. Insofar as the verbs were dif-ferentiated at all, a man might incline to save agapan for the love of an object he es-teemed while he might confess Eros for an unworthy object, he would hardly say that he“agaped” it. More specifically (and still speaking of the days before Jesus of Nazareth) aman could feel friendship for and love his friends with the verb philein and the nounphilia. When those friends were his brothers or when he thought of them as brothers, hecould speak of his fraternal love for them as philos-delphos or phila-delphia. Philia wasaffectionate and warm, but hardly ever sexual, as was usually, but not always Eros. God’slove toward man was later to be called philanthropy.20 Several antecedent authors usedthe concept of love as a motivational force to explain human and divine action or as acosmic force to explain the genesis of the cosmos and the human species. But the leapforward did not occur until Plato, as he was the first to systematically investigate the na-ture of human love. It is also no exaggeration to say that every later theorist of love, and18 Kuhn, p. 36.19 For Empedocles nature consists of four indestructible elements, which are earth, water, air and fire.Everything in the universe is composed of these parts in a certain proportion and some day they willdecompose again so that only the elements remain. Two cosmic forces are responsible for the compositionand decomposition of the elements: love (Philótēs, Philía, Aphrodítē) and strife or hate (Neikós). Aphroditeis the Goddess of love and therefore a common metaphor for the concept of love. The same goes for Eros,who is both the God of (erotic) love and desire. It is not exactly clear how we must interpret them: aspurely physical forces of attraction and repulsion, which could be either innate in the elements or imposedon them as external forces, or as intelligent divinities that act in purposive ways in creation and destruction.In the first case it would be an instance of thing love (concept 2b), in the second it would be a case of non-human personal love (concept 3b). What is clear is that both forces are engaged in an eternal battle fordomination of the cosmos and that they each prevail in turn in an endless cosmic cycle (Kirk, Raven,Schofield, p. 327)20 See also Morgan, p. 65. 10
  • 13. particularly Augustine and Freud, has been in Plato’s debt, as we will see later on in thispaper.3.1 Ancient Greek philosophy: PlatoPlato’s theory of love can be found in two of his works: the Phaidros and the Symposium.In this paper I focus on the latter, since it supplies the most detailed information for ouranalysis. The Symposium is arguably one of the most enjoyable Platonic dialogues to read.Its literary form is a polylogue and its dramatic setting a drinking party, where each of theguests is asked to give a speech in which Eros21, the god of sexual love is praised.22 Thefirst five speeches function as an introduction to the main theory of Eros, which is ex-pressed in the sixth speech held by Socrates himself. Of the introductory speeches, thespeeches of Pausanias and Aristophanes are particularly worth mentioning. In Pausanias’speech a distinction is made between two kinds of Eros: Eros Pándemos and ErosUraníos. Of Eros Pándemos he says that it is only felt by the vulgar (men), who are at-tracted to women no less than to boys and who are more interested in the body than in thesoul. Naturally, people who love in this way seek for the least intelligent partners, sinceall they care about is completing the sexual act, regardless of whether what they do ishonourable of not. This Eros Pándemos is mythologically related to a young goddess,Pandemos, who is the daughter of Zeus and Dione, and for this reason she learned to loveboth males and females. She is also referred to as “common Aphrodite”, for being moreoriented to the flesh.23 The Eros Uraníos relates to an older deity Urania, who is themotherless daughter of Uranus, god of heaven. This type of Eros is exclusively directedat boys, since her descent is purely male, and is praised by Pausanias as “heavenly Aph-rodite”. As Urania is older than Pandemos, her love is more mature and, being directed atmales, finds pleasure in “what is by nature stronger and more intelligent”.24 It must benoted that the Eros Uraníos includes the practice of paiderastía, or pedophile behaviour.21 In the original Greek version of the Symposium „Eros“ is consequently capitalized, since the God and thekind of love which is usually thought to be sexual in nature are supposed to be identical.22 There are six speeches of praise delivered in the Symposium, plus a seventh by an uninvited and verydrunk latecomer, the Athenian statesman and general Alcibiades. In chronological order the encomia areexpressed by Phaedrus [178a-180b], Pausanias [180c-185c], Eryximachus [185e-188e], Aristophanes[189c-193d], Agathon [194e-197e], Socrates [199c-212c] and Alcibiades [215a-222c].23 Symposium, 181b.24 Symposium, 181c. 11
  • 14. Something, which is believed to be rather common in Plato’s time, and to a certain extent,morally accepted if the boy was not too young.25 The other speech, that of the great poet Aristophanes, tells the story of the originof man. In the beginning, he states, there were three kinds of human beings: male, female,and androgynous beings (having both male and female sexual organs). The shape of eachof the human beings was completely spherical – having two pairs of arms and legs andtwo faces on each side of the head. In addition, they had two sets of sexual organs. Butthen, tragically, due to their terribly ambitious nature they disobeyed the gods and tried tomake an ascent to heaven so as to attack the gods. Zeus, confronted with this rebellion,did not want to simply wipe them out as he had previously done with the Titans whenthey rebelled; the worship and sacrifices he received from the humans were too valuablefor him. In order to stop their misconduct, but at the same time to allow them to survive,Zeus cut each human being in two. In doing so, he not only reduced their strength, butalso increased their number, being even more profitable to him then before.26 But then,another tragedy occurred: since the human’s natural form had been cut in two, each onelonged for the other half it had been separated from. On finding each other, they wouldrefuse to let go of the other half in an attempt to grow together again. This way they werenot able to take care of themselves, and finally died from starvation and self-neglect.When Zeus saw that the humans were in danger of extinction he took pity on them anddecided to reverse their genitals, in order to make reproduction possible. Now they notonly were able to have children, but also to have the satisfaction of intercourse. Themoral of this story is that the cause of our desire to love someone is that we try to find the‘other half’ of what used to be our original unity. And this intense yearning, which is sa-lient in lovers, is not primarily the desire for sexual intercourse, but the desire to be re-united with something that has been taken away from us by force and against our will.This desire to be a whole again is what we call love.27 Moreover, this mythical account ofthe origin of love between humans explains why sometimes people are attracted to indi-viduals of the same gender. Obviously, in their original state they were part of one an-25 See also: Bury, R., „Introduction“ (1909) in: The Symposium of Plato. Edited, with introduction, criticalnotes and commentary by R.G. Bury, Litt.D. Cambridge: 1932, W. Heffner and Sons Ltd., p. xxvi.26 Symposium, 189e-190d.27 Symposium, 190e-193b. 12
  • 15. drogynous being. Interestingly, this view not only claims that homosexuality is in accor-dance with nature, but also implies that (male) homosexuality is actually of a higher kindthan heterosexual love. This conclusion of Aristophanes’ speech is affirmed by the speech of Socrates,which turns out to be a representation of a discourse he once had with his instructor inmatters of love, Diotima. This Diotima appears to be a very wise woman, who refutesSocrates’ initial claim that love itself is a beautiful thing. According to her mythical ex-planation, love is neither beautiful and good, nor ugly and bad, but something in be-tween.28 And besides this, Eros is not a god, since being a godhead requires the posses-sion of beauty, and that is exactly what Eros desires and lacks. Instead, he appears to bean intermediary daimon between the immortal gods and mortal men. Moreover, Eros hasboth a fertile and rich nature, and an impoverished one, due to his descent of Poros (liter-ally: “plenty” or “resource”) and Penia (“poverty”). As he is intermediary between themortal and the immortal, Eros is intermediary between the wise and the unwise, which is,according to Socrates, the equivalent of a wisdom-lover or philosopher. The vocabulay of‘mortality’ and ‘immortality’, of ‘gods’ and ‘men’, may sound archaic and mythical toour modern understanding, but if we translate them into philosophically more commonterms we find the purely logical result that love strictly speaking is not identical with theamans nor with the amandum. Rather, love is the impelling relation between these two. From Socrates’ preliminary discussion with Agathon 29 three characteristics oflove are identified: that (1) love is always intentional, that is: it always has an object; that(2) love is always a lack, a need, a longing, a want, a desire of something, rather than thepossession of something;30 and that (3) love always seeks beauty and goodness.31 It mustbe noted that these results match perfectly with our formal analysis in Chapter 1. Furtheron in the speech Socrates establishes even more characteristics.32 For instance, that (4)love itself is neither beautiful nor good, but “something in between”. Two additions mustbe made here. First, that Eros is neither a god, nor a man, but a great daimon: an interme-diary between the gods and man, and second that Eros “partakes” in the nature of both28 Symposium, 201e.29 Symposium, 199c-201d.30 Symposium, 200e.31 Symposium, 201a. 13
  • 16. his parents, Poros (plenty) and Penia (poverty). With respect to knowledge, he is a wis-dom lover or philosopher, which means that love and philosophy are recognised by Platoas being essentially connected. Then, Socrates speaks of the effects, or the utility, ofEros33 and claims that (5) love is the desire for the everlasting possession of the good,which is connected with the fear of losing the object of love after it is gained. This ex-plains why some lovers become jealous, for jealousy is the fear of losing the beloved inthe future. Also, Socrates states that (6) the method or mode of action of Eros is that itprocreates, both physical and psychical, the good in the beautiful. Two different forms ofprocreation are distinguished: physical and psychical procreation. The physical procrea-tion of babies is the nearest approach to immortality through offspring, but never reachestotal immortality, since all humans must die some day. Therefore, the psychical procrea-tion of laws, inventions and noble deeds, is a much stronger and higher form of procrea-tion, since its offspring is immortal. A consequence of this sixth characteristic is thatsome forms of love are objectively better than others. Love for the body is vulgar,whereas love for the soul is the highest love. It also includes the idea that homosexuallove for boys is a higher and purer love than heterosexual love for women, since the soulsof men are regarded as stronger and more intelligent. Moreover, this kind of love is obvi-ously not interested in creating physical offspring. The final characteristic of love (7)concerns the purpose of love. According to Plato, the purpose of love is to ascend frombodily beauty to the love of soul beauty, and eventually to the Form of “the Beauty” itself.This is a process, through which the soul has to pass, beginning with the physical love fora body and thence proceeding toward the love for the soul, in which the form of thebeauty is recognized. At this highest stage of love, even individual souls become irrele-vant and only the pure form of beauty itself is loved. This can be considered to be themost important “moral” of the story of Socrates’ instructor Diotima. And she even guideshim further in the mysteries of Eros. There are men, she teaches, who are ‘pregnant’ inthe body only, and whose pursuit of the immortality we all seek takes the sole directionof physical procreation. They leave behind only physical offspring, which may well out-live them and in this sense enables the parents to “defeat” their own death. Other men,32 Symposium, 201d-212c.33 Symposium, 204d-212a. 14
  • 17. however, are pregnant more in their minds than in their body. They too seek immortality,yet immortality of a higher order. These are our creators, artists, statesmen, lawgivers,and educators: those who are remembered for the children, not of their loins, but of theirbrains and hearts. These are more fully men, for they have “embodied” virtues by ex-pressing them. Nonetheless, the distinction Plato makes here between body and soul isnot as strict as it seems. The path to true love is a matter of a long process of education.Of course the love of a beginner is honestly sexual: it is the beautiful body that attractshim. However, this is only the first step. In time, the lover will understand that the beautyof the body is related to the beauty of the soul. He then advances from physically beauti-ful bodies, to morally beautiful actions and then to intellectually beautiful forms. Thishierarchy is what is conventionally referred to as Plato’s “Ladder of Love” or “scalaamoris”34, because the highest form of love cannot be reached without having initiallystepped on the first rung of the ladder, which is the physical attraction to a beautiful ob-ject such as a beautiful body, or beautiful words and discourses. With respect to this point, the historical interpretation of Plato’s concept of lovemoved in two different directions: one (older) interpretation claims that Plato is an ascetic,who categorically condemns sexuality and urges men to turn completely away from thebody and all earthly things in favour of the super-mundane forms. This is where the fa-mous expression of “Platonic love” came from, by which is meant a purely non-sexuallove. A younger tradition of interpretation, however, focuses on the idea that the Sympo-sium and the Phaedrus set on the continuity of love’s growth, and claims that Plato onlypartially condemns sex. However, in neither interpretation sexuality is actually praised. Inthe first, it is condemned outright; in the second, it is taken as a natural and healthy, al-though tiny, first step in love.35 But let us now turn to the question of what actually happens to us when we love.Can we say that love is an emotion? Plato would probably deny this. With Scholz36 I be-lieve that he would rather call it a ‘state of mind’. Emotions have a more temporary and34 Santas, p. 25, 41.35 See also: Morgan, p. 35.36 Scholz, p. 4 calls it a „Gemütsverfassung“; In his attempt to define the concepts of love for Plato andChristianity Scholz uses three questions for a method: 1. what is it based on; 2. what it exists in; and 3. howit is distributed between the sexes (the orgiginal says: „1. die Frage, worauf sie beruht; 2. die Frage, worinsie besteht; 3. die Frage, wie sie sich auf die Geschlechter verteilt“ (Scholz, p. 48). 15
  • 18. subjective nature, since they are not so much dependent on the outside world, but seem tooriginate from the subject itself. Love, however, is a state of mind that needs a certainform (eidos) of beauty as a necessary precondition, to which the lover is attracted. Everytime the lover recognizes this form, he will experience the desire to be near the object inwhich it becomes manifest. So it is this pure form of beauty (and to a certain extent alsogoodness) that is the actual cause of love: We love things that are beautiful and want toprocreate beautiful things in order to become immortal. Yet the philosophical question is,of course, what precisely this “pure form of beauty” is. According to Plato, beauty is notsomething that is “in the eye of the beholder”. On the contrary, it is something objec-tively present in a concrete thing. As Plato calls it, the beauty of a person is ontologicallya quality of a concrete instantiation, which partakes (metexis) in the true and pure form ofbeauty. So Plato’s concept of love is essentially connected with his theory of forms. Apure form is, according to Plato, an unchanging, universal and eternal entity, which isunique in its kind and ontologically prior to all existing things in the world of appear-ances. Individual things have certain characteristics, because they ontologically partake inseveral pure forms, such as whiteness, beauty and courage. In a way, the pure form ofbeauty can be called the “archetype of beauty”, although this is not Plato’s own wording. Further, love can only be perceived by intuition, and not by sensation, so this ex-plains the intellectual character of the recognition of the pure form of beauty in a person.Salient, from a feminist point of view, is that women are excluded from partaking in theForm of beauty, because Plato considers them to be inferior to men. This is, of course, onthe one hand a remarkable point of view, also because Diotima was not the least attrac-tive woman of her time. Plato never elaborated on the matter, possibly because the con-tradiction never occurred to him.37 On the other hand, Plato’s idea of the inferiority ofwomen was not exceptional in ancient Greece. In his opinion, women are inferior, sincethey lack sharpness of vision. And sharpness of vision (that is, sharpness of the „men-tal“ eye) is a necessary precondition to recognize beauty in the first place. So if one can-not recognize the beauty of someone, there is simply no attraction, and if one sees thepure form of beauty in someone, it is necessary to love him madly.37 Scholz, p. 12. 16
  • 19. So to summarize, the most important results are that the explicandum of Plato’sattempt to explicate love is the Greek term Eros. We also saw that an explication shouldaim at inter-human love (concept 4a), since it is the love between human persons Plato isinterested in. Evident non-examples that have to be excluded are instances of non-personor thing love (concept 2b), such as the love of a (hydrophilic) chemical for water, and to alesser extent non-human love (concept 3b) and abstract and material love (concept 4b).Regarding the conditions of adequacy, it must be said that Plato’s concept of love is quitenarrow. It excludes instances of cosmological love and leaves no room for the love ofGod for his creation. Moreover, the only objects of love Plato mentions are human beings.Love for material objects, such as books, is not mentioned. He does give an explanationof the love for wisdom, as philosophy, but intrinsically connects it to the love of anotherhuman soul, which is needed to “give birth” to this beautiful knowledge. An aspect thatmay face the scepticism of feminists is the fact that for Plato the only true objects of loveare the souls of male individuals. The love for females is regarded as a matter of the fleshonly, since it is inherently connected with procreation of children. ‘True love’ seems,therefore, only to be possible for homosexual (male) couples. This means that Plato’sconcept may be too narrow even to include our common view of women also being ableto love truly. An evaluation of ‘general desiderata’ is concerned with giving a judgment onthree non-specific criteria: precision, fruitfulness and simplicity. With respect to the firstcriterion we may note that Plato is remarkably precise in his explication of the concept ofEros. He explains in detail that love is a relational entity, which involves a person wholoves and a person who is being loved. The lover feels a very strong desire to be with theloved one due to the beauty he sees in him. The purpose of love is to procreate beautifulchildren in the form of laws, inventions and noble deeds. Plato’s account of love provedto be fruitful, in the sense that his theory was a great inspiration for later philosophers.The question of whether Plato’s theory of love is simple, however, cannot be answeredwith a clear “yes”. He does involve the metaphysical concept of beauty as an unchanging“form”. In fact, this concept is essential to his whole theory. One may try to put into per-spective this term by replacing it with a less objectionable term, such as “archetype ofbeauty”, but that is not what Plato claims. He puts forward the strong claim stating that 17
  • 20. these entities are absolute and that beauty is far from being “in the eye of the beholder”.Plato’s concept of love cannot be separated from his metaphysical assumptions on theexistence of pure forms, and, therefore does satisfy the demand of simplicity.3.2 Christian philosophy: Saint AugustineThe transgression from antique philosophy into Christian thought progresses slowly afterthe life and teachings of Jesus of Nazareth. In the first centuries AD many sects claim torepresent the true Christian belief on earth, and disagree on important dogmas, such asthe nature of God, the status of the Bible as divine revelation, and the immortality of thesoul. With Saint Augustine of Hippo (354-430), many of the now typical Christian dog-mas were established, the most important of which are the free will of human beings, thetrinity of Father, Son and Holy Spirit, and the theory of the fall of man, the inherited sinsand God’s grace. He counts arguably as the most influential Christian thinker ever, as hewrote numerous works on philosophy and theology. The most important are De doctrinachristiana, the Confessiones, De trinitate, and De civitate Dei. One interesting character-istic of the life of Augustine is that of extremes. As a youngster, Augustine leads a re-markably unrestrained life, as we can read in the Confessiones.38 He steals, lies, leads apromiscuous life and vainly strives for respect and wealth as a teacher of rhetoric.39 Onlyafter his conversion into Catholicism, he devotes himself to an ascetic life, and becomesthe humblest servant of God. A salient detail of his life story is that he relentlessly sendsaway his wife and young child, because he thinks that a life devoted to God cannot becombined with a normal family life. Among the most important philosophical ideas of Augustine’s philosophy is theexistence of a personal and immaterial God, who consists of three substantially identicalpersons: the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. In contrast to later religious thinkers,Augustine is not so much concerned with proving the existence of God by rational argu-38 See also Flash, p. 12.39 Well known are Augustine’s confessions of his escapades before his conversion. In his sixteenth year hehad longed to be sinning with “the boys”. He despised his mother Monnica’s warnings against sexual ir-regularities – she urged him to at least avoid seducing married women – and felt ashamed at being less dis-solute than his peers. At the famous pear-tree incident Augustine and his friends stole pears and threw themto the pigs. According to his testimony, Augustine took them, precisely because he knew it was the wrongthing to do. 18
  • 21. ment, since for him this is evidently true.40 Compared to God’s superior intellectual pow-ers the human mind is only a poor imitation. According to Augustine, human persons areno actual composites of both body and soul, but rather the pure identity of the soul itself.The body is merely a piece of “clothing” which covers the soul and cloaks its originallyclear view. The soul, however, is something purely immaterial and immortal.41 In thecontext of the Biblical story of Adam and Eve, Augustine became concerned with sexualdifferentiation. An important question was whether the difference between the sexes issomething that abides by the soul after death. If this is not the case, is then biological re-production the only reason for the sexual difference of earthly bodies? Augustine thinksthat sexual difference might remain in some kind in heaven, but certainly no sexual actsoccur there, as some contemporaries suggested. In De bono coniugali (The Good of Mar-riage), Augustine is still hesitant to admit that sexual intercourse took place in the Gardenof Eden, and in the Literal Commentary he is wondering whether the affection of caritasalone would actually have been adequate for reproduction. It is not exaggerated to saythat Augustine never achieved a wholly satisfactory account of the role of sexualitywithin marriage. It took him years to decide that Adam had an “animal”, and not a “spiri-tual” body, and that in their unfallen state in paradise Adam and Eve did actually enjoysexual relations – albeit strictly for the procreation of children. And Augustine empha-sizes here: sex, yes, but neither did they have it for the erotic pleasure, nor simply as anexpression of affection.42 Eventually, in De bono coniugali, Augustine comes to the con-clusion that the only justification for sexual intercourse is the procreation of children. Sexnot aiming at making babies is a fault, though venial in a married couple.43 Augustine gives only one explicit definition of love. He says that love is “crav-ing” (appetitus).44 All animals, including man, have these cravings, but when they occurin man he calls them “affects” (affectus). Every affect is related to a definite object, and ittakes this object to spark the affection itself, thus providing an aim for it. Affection is de-termined by the object it seeks analogously to a movement, which is set by the goal to-40 There are a few proofs of Gods existence in Augustine’s works, but this is not his main interest. He ismuch more interested in the nature and attributes of God (See also Rist, p. 67).41 Rist, p. 92.42 Rist, p. 112.43 Kirwan, p. 194.44 Arendt, p. 7. 19
  • 22. ward which it moves. For, as Augustine writes, love is “a kind of motion and all motionis toward something.” 45 What determines the motion is always something previouslygiven; we only love what we know. So in accordance with Plato, Augustine thinks thatwe consider the object we know and desire to be “good” (bonum), otherwise we wouldnot seek it for its own sake. These “goods” are always independent objects, unrelated toother objects. Again Plato resounds when Augustine says that we only desire what we donot have. We desire it because we think the object is good and will make us happy. Oncewe have our object, our desire ends, unless we are threatened with its loss. In that case thedesire to ‘have’ turns into a fear of losing. So as craving seeks some good, fear dreadssome ‘evil’ (malum). The consequence is that as long as we desire temporal things, weare constantly under the threat of losing what we have gained. Constantly subjected to therule of craving and fear, the future is uncertain and we are unable to be happy. The truelife, Augustine therefore proposes, is “one that is both everlasting and happy”.46 His solu-tion is to introduce a different object of love: namely, one that is no longer a particulargood, but the absolute or “highest” good itself (summum bonum). This absolute goodmust be eternity, since eternity is not something you can lose against your will. A lovethat seeks anything safe and disposable on earth is constantly frustrated, because every-thing is doomed to perish in the long run. We must therefore make eternity the object ofour desire: the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. Love for things in the world he de-nounces as cupiditas: the kind of love that pulls us ‘down’, due to its ‘weight’ on thesoul.47 The right love, in contrast, is the one that seeks eternity and the absolute future:caritas, and is able to draw us in the opposite direction, namely up and out of our earthlydungeons into the heavens. Still, both right and wrong love have in common that they arecraving desire, appetitus. The difference between the two kinds of love lies thereforesolely in the object of love. Hence, Augustine warns, “love, but be careful what youlove”.48 Thus, Augustine’s theory of love is part of a morally charged model of the rightlife. According to this model, God is conceived as the summum bonum, and as the object45 Arendt, p 9.46 Arendt, p 10.47 Rist, p 173.48 Arendt, p 17. 20
  • 23. all movements of love should be directed at. All ethical rules are derived from this objectof love. The ethical purpose is, for Augustine, to live life as a “wise man” (sapiens). Thismeans that to live rationally is to live a happy life and a life of “being with God”.49 So thelove for God is unmistakably of an intellectual nature. The purpose of man is to recognizeGod, and for this purpose, the Christian virtues of faith (fides), hope (spes) and love (ca-ritas) must be internalised, as they are thought to be a preparation of the soul to view thelight of God. To “view” God (visio Dei) means to intellectually grasp him, not to physi-cally see him or to have a “vision” of God. Hence the love for God is an intellectual actof the soul.50 From the perspective of Christian virtues, love is subsequently interpretedas the desire to view God, hope as the expectation to achieve this and faith as the beliefthat the object of the mental view corresponds with the way God truly is. Several historically separated lines of thought come together in Augustine’sworks: one is the desire for deliverance and the other the desire for knowledge. The ques-tioning of intellectual investigation (quaerere) was for Augustine essentially a quest forGod. This means that the true philosopher is at the same time a true god-loving person(verus philosophus amator Dei).51 So philosophy as the “love of wisdom” was accordingto Augustine identical with the intellectual love for God, and can be understood as a mov-ing power that can ultimately unite us with God in perfect harmony. It is, however, char-acteristic for the humans of the post-Adamitic age that their love is not originally intact.Human love needs to be healed by the compassionate love of God. Three types of loveare distinguished in the works of Augustine, which differ from each other only in the di-rection of the moving power of the love. They are 1) the love of God for his creation, andin particular for humans, 2) the love of humans for God, and 3) the love of a man to hisfellow-men. The first love is descending, the second love is ascending, and in the thirdkind of love both directions are combined. But still, in the combination of the two direc-tions of love, the motivation of the descending love dominates, and the ascending move-ment of the amor Dei is subordinated.5249 Flasch, p. 128.50 Flasch, p. 128.51 De civ. Dei VIII, p. 1.52 See also: Kuhn, p. 81. 21
  • 24. Compared to the Platonic conception of love, this idea of a “descending love ofGod for his creation” is a radically new concept. For the platonic thinker this would be avery strange notion, because love for him is the desire for something, which is lacking.Since God by definition is perfect and therefore lacks nothing, why should he want tolove something else? In Augustine’s theory of God this problem is never mentioned, andobviously he did not think there is a contradiction here. Unlike cosmological love (con-cept 2b), which is largely blind and serves as a pre-physical principle to explain the co-herence of individual particulars, Augustine’s divine love is proper love (concept 2a).God loves his creation as a father loves his children. Now, since all forms of human loveare derived from and subordinated to God’s love, this love has a special status. It is aprinciple of nature that all love is aimed at the good, but humans also have the moral dutyto love the objects of their love in the same way as they are being loved by God. Thisequally holds for man’s love for neighbour as his love for himself. In its true form love islove for the good, such as justice. But love is always accompanied by knowledge, so notrue love is possible without knowledge of the “form” of the object. At the same time trueknowledge is not possible without love. This line of thought is clearly circular, but be-comes understandable, when knowledge is subordinated under faith. Unfortunately theclarity of knowledge and faith is obscured by the corruption of human nature, whichleads the human soul away from its true destination.53 Augustine’s theory of ‘love’ –which for him is actually caritas or agape54 – is essentially connected with his doctrine ofdivine grace. Due to the grace of God, men are free beings, and are able to choosewhether they return the love of God or not. The true object of love is always God, in fact,God is love, and, therefore, he loves himself. This idea, in connection with the idea thatman is the image of God, constitutes the fundament of Augustine’s metaphysics of thetrinity. Of the three persons: the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, the latter mediates53 Kuhn, p. 90.54 According to Hannah Arendt the three Greek terms of the Greek New Testament – Eros, storge andagape – correspond with the Latin translations: amor, dilectio and caritas. She also says that Augustineuses these terms rather flexible. Moreover, Augustine frequently uses them synonymously and even em-phasizes this repeatedly. Still, he generally, but not consistently, uses amor to designate desire and craving(that is, for love in its largest, least specific sense); dilectio to designate the love of self and neighbor; andcaritas to designate the love of God and the „highest good“ (Arendt, p. 38). Still, all three kinds of love areinstances of agape / caritas (see also Santas, p. 98). 22
  • 25. between the Father and the Son, and functions as love (caritas). This involves both thelove of the Father for his Son as the love of the Son for his Father. According to Augustine, the ascending love for God always has human persons asa subject. Of all his creation, only humans have the innate capacity and desire towardsfulfilment, in the sense of becoming one with their creator. The typical characteristics ofman are furthermore that he is a thinking being, which has freedom of the will (liberumarbitrium). From these characteristics two aspects of love can be distinguished: 1) thequestioning, searching and constantly distressed love (quaestio amoris) and 2) the or-dered, but in its order threatened, love (ordo amoris).55 The quaestio amoris is an innatedesire for God, which is initially not recognized as such by the mortal individual. Usuallyour view is too much obscured by earthly matters. The path towards God is something wemust find first, since we are largely ignorant of the true nature of this love. To seek thelove of God is not only the morally proper thing to do56, it is also the most natural andnecessary. The restlessness of our heart, which consists of a mixture of ignorance andknowledge, drives us to our quest for divine love. As an ascending movement this questpasses through three stages, which are the outer world here on earth, the inner world ofthe soul, and finally the transcending of the world into the realm of the divine. In the firststage, man seeks to find the object of love in nature: the earth, the sea, the air and fire, butthen realizes he can never find it here. In a second attempt, he turns to himself and startssearching in his own soul (animus, memoria). But soon he must concede that love cannotbe found here either. The third way for man to search for love is to transcend his own in-ternal life, for only “over me” (supra me) God can be found.57 But now the searchingman is captured by a difficulty, since it is unclear where he must look for his object oflove. It is not simply an “over” that can be determined in space. It is a completely differ-ent realm, which cannot be grasped by our common understanding, but rather requires aspecial insight. God is not “somewhere” to be found. He has not turned himself awayfrom man, but on the contrary, man has lost himself and with himself he has lost God. Ina decisive moment of reflection, man realizes that he is subjected to a world of temporal55 Kuhn, p. 82.56 “Thou shalt love the Lord, my God, with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind (Mat-thew, 22:37)57 Augustinus, Confessiones, I, 1. 23
  • 26. variability, in which he is unable to grasp the highest truth. Only when he meditates onthe eternal realm of unchanging truth he is able to recognize this truth. Then, he perceivesthe true divine beauty, similar to Plato’s intuition of the form, and finally understands hisoriginally existing relation to the object of love, which is God.58 Another aspect of as-cending love is that it is an ordered love (amor ordinatus), since no ascending is possiblewithout a ladder on which to ascend on. This ladder is related to levels of being, such thatall human love is subordinated to the love of God. Human love, namely, is part of thelove for the outer world, which is lower than the love for the self (but still higher than thelove for material things, such as garments and riches). The love for the self, which is, ac-cording to Augustine, the soul (anima), is in turn to be subordinated to the highest love,which should be directed at God himself. According to this order of love, no human be-ing should be loved in the same way as God is to be loved.59 The love of neighbour as a Christian commandment60 is derived from the love(caritas) of God,61 which the believer embraces, as well as from the resulting new atti-tude toward his own self. If man recognises himself as a part of God’s creation, not onlythis God is loved, but man will also love himself as a part of the created nature, togetherwith the other created nature, for being related to the same origin. The love for the selfand for neighbour, therefore, goes hand in hand, since they are both, as humans, the im-age of God. To be more precise, the love of neighbor is a form of affection or sentiment(affectio) towards the other, which penetrates and shapes the natural love relations, suchas between friends, parents and children, brothers and sisters, and the citizens of a state ornation.62 Through the love of neighbour, love of God can be expressed. It has a strongmoral bearing and is essentially connected with the agape of the New Testament.63 Thedilectio of the self and neighbour is, thus, a combination of an ascending and descendinglove, which is not a direct love relation between two human persons, but an indirect onethrough the love of God. At the same time the concepts of platonic love between friends(philia) and desire or sexual attraction (eros) do not seem to be appropriate to cover the58 Kuhn, p. 84.59 Kuhn, p. 92.60 “Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself“ (Leviticus, 19:18; Matthew, 22:39; and Mark, 12:31); .61 See also: Arendt, p. 3; Kuhn, p. 86.62 Kuhn, p. 86.63 Kuhn, p. 87. 24
  • 27. meaning of dilectio. Also cupiditas, as the love of things one can lose against one’s will,is criticized by Augustine as more hostile to a ‘good will’ capable of freedom than any-thing else. 64 In fact, cupiditas is nothing else than a desire (libido) for mortal things.Freedom in this context means nothing else but self-sufficiency, which is reached onlythrough the love of God. So to summarize, the explicandum of the Augustinian attempt to explicate lovewas the Latin term caritas, which may be translated as divine love, i.e. the love of Godfor his creation (concept 3b). He also speaks about cupiditas, which is the sexually moti-vated love of an individual man for created objects in this world (concept 5a or 4b), butrejects this notion for being “vulgar”. Inter-human love (concept 4a) is still possible, butonly when a detour is made over the love of God. For this reason individual creatures canbe loved indirectly only, and out of a moral obligation towards God. Generally speaking, one can say that Augustine fails to develop a satisfying con-cept of (romantic) love. He does make love the centre of his ethical theory, 65 whichseems to be a very high valuation, but emphasizes the epistemological character of lovetoo much. According to Augustine an object can only be fully known, when it is fullyloved.66 Love, then, is reduced to a form of knowledge, and appears to be too narrow tocover instances of love we identified in the analysis of love. The special character of loveemotions, which phenomenologically strikes us as a strange and overwhelming force, isnot considered in its own right, but from an intellectual and ethical perspective only. Ofthe sexual expression of human love Augustine speaks at best with disdain, but usuallywith outright disgust. Obviously, his theory is more concentrated on how to control loveemotions than to explain their nature. Love between human persons is accepted, but onlywhen it is purely intellectual at a subordinated level under the love for God. Moreover,Augustine’s love is something purely of the soul; the body only counts as a hindrance toacquiring true love. On hearing the objection that if his theory were to be put into practice,mankind would go extinct, Augustine cried out: “Oh, if only all men wanted this!”67 – astatement that was as remarkable then as it is today. Another limitation of Augustine’s64 Arendt, p. 20.65 Flasch, p. 138.66 See also Flasch, p. 135.67 Flasch, p. 135. 25
  • 28. concept of love is that only the love for God is a purpose in itself; all love for other peo-ple – including the love for oneself – is only regarded as a means to this end. This viewentails not only that the meaning of human life and love is reduced to an instrument forthe higher purpose of the love for God, but also that it fails to recognise our common ex-perience of other people as persons with an end in themselves and not as things only in-strumental to God’s plan. So in making humans instruments of the love for God, a fun-damental distance is created in the relation of man to others and to himself as a person.We are only allowed to love people insofar as this love is related to the eternal grace ofGod. The Augustinian concept of love has nothing to do with personal care or valuationof persons. And that is part of what makes it so difficult to translate this concept into theinformal description. The common “desire” (appetitus) for something cannot count aslove, since it is not in any way related to the ascending nature of the love for God. In thesame way the love for a created thing for its own sake (cupiditas) is wrong. This meansthat sexual love is simply disregarded as something vulgar and unworthy. It is completelyleft out of the considerations of Augustine’s moral concept of love, and condemned as asource of evil. This way he was insufficiently able to explicate the whole concept of love,but rather focused on one and disqualified the other, thereby violating our common-senseconception of sexual love as an evident example of love, no matter whether it is morallygood or bad. Nonetheless, Augustine’s theory about sexual, moral and Christian ethicswas extremely influential for more than one thousand years and for a large part stilldominates Western views on marriage, sexuality and homosexuality today. As to the criterion of precision, we may say that Augustine does not pay much at-tention to syntactic and semantic determinateness. Obviously, though implicitly, he iden-tifies love as a dyadic relation, but does not emphasize the non-symmetrical, non-transitive and non-reflexive character of love relations. On the contrary, Augustine thinksthat the right kind of love is necessarily transitory over the love of God. This means thatman is only able to love another mortal creature if he loves God first. So if a person Aloves God, and God loves person B, then person A must love person B. This is clearly atodds with the formal characteristics established in Chapter 1. With respect to the criterionof simplicity, the major role of Augustinian metaphysics and theology in his concept oflove should be addressed. If we are to accept Augustine’s explication, the notion of a the- 26
  • 29. istic interpretation of God as the creator of heaven and earth, the initiator of miracles andthe final purpose of our very existence, must be accepted. Moreover, in this world vieware included the beliefs in an immortal soul and the primacy of the spiritual over thephysical.3.3 Modern philosophy: FreudThe reason I chose Sigmund Freud as the third milestone in the history of the concept oflove is that he was a great innovator and a revolutionary in the study of love. Freud man-aged to deliver a modern theory and method to interpret and analyze our most commonexperiences with love. Moreover, he was the first one to approach the study of love scien-tifically, to probe its mysteries and explain its irrationalities. Using his new theory of themind focusing on the psychosexual development of the child, and relying on data fromhis patients revealed by the methods of psychoanalysis, he tried to locate the origins oflove in the early experiences of the individual. Yet Freudian psychoanalysis is not a simple scientific claim. It is rather a laby-rinth of mutually implicative insights. There is, however, a distinct metaphysical frame-work in Freud’s thought, that seems to be a combination of modern scientific, and ancientmythic elements. He conceived the world as a dynamic system of material mass-energyunits, which move and interact due to mechanical forces, so no teleology is involved inFreud’s worldview.68 All desire and need pushes us in a certain direction, of which thedestination is unknown. The outcome of our actions is not consciously and carefully con-sidered before we act, but undertaken action is the result of previously determined factors.Freud’s initial model of the mind is mechanistic, but because of its limited possibilitiesfor explaining the internal dynamics of human personality, let alone of complex relationsamong persons, he adopted the organism as his basic model. This model allows for de-velopment, something which is typical for all life on this planet. Consequently, any bio-logical or psychological explanation is typically genetic; to explain a man’s behaviour bytracing it back to its roots. With respect to the so-called “mental” concepts Freud pre-68 This, however, is Freud’s “official claim”. As Morgan points out, Freud felt compelled to talk in terms ofteleology again and again. Certainly when Freud is engaged in biological discussions, he finds it hard toavoid a teleological way of thinking (Morgan, p. 170). 27
  • 30. sumes that they can be translated into “physical” concepts. Thus, he thinks that somaticcharacterizations are primary, while psychic ones are derivative and theoretically reduci-ble to somatic disturbances in the bio-chemical household of the body. The challange was,however, that Freud met patients whose physical findings were completely negative, yetwho suffered hysterical tics and coughs. He realized that these patients needed help,without denying the ultimate importance of physiology. By using model-analogies, Freudcould help his patients to gain insight into the causes of their present psychological state,and in some cases this relieved some intolerable symptoms. The language he uses ishardly scientific. Concepts such as “instinct” (Trieb), “inhibition” (Hemmung), “ego”(Ich) and “repression” (Verdrängung) cannot be translated into any equivalent anatomicalor physiological terms.69 Freud wanted to construct a unified concept of love, that is, a concept in whichfamilial love, friendship, sexual love and Christian love were all parts of the samewhole.70 The basis for such a concept was found in the idea of sexuality. Freud’s accountof love is fundamentally grounded in the idea that sexuality underlies all other expres-sions of love. This notion can be referred to as the “sexual reduction”. Basically, thismeans that the fundaments of love are deeply hidden in affections of much older sexualimpulses, which determine the love choices we make at puberty and adulthood. Theselater love choices are modelled after these original sexual experiences in infancy andchildhood, usually within the family circle. Freud’s theory of sexuality is most clearly expressed in the Three Essays on theTheory of Sexuality (1905). In this work Freud tried to reconstruct the infantile factor inhuman sexuality by analyzing sexual perversions, such as fetishism, homosexuality, sa-dism and masochism. He starts with what he regarded as the dominant view of sexuality.A view that he thought was full of errors and inaccuracies. According to this “popularopinion”, the sexual instinct is “generally understood to be absent in childhood, to set inat the time of puberty”. The supposed object of the sexual instinct is a “person of the op-69 The common complaint is that Freud’s key terms are of a metaphysical nature and can never hope forconfirmation. At the same time no one can prove they are false because, however the facts turn out in agiven case, there is always a Freudian explanation.70 See also Santas, p. 98. 28
  • 31. posite sex” and the aim is “sexual union”.71 Freud decides to radically break with this tra-dition. He begins his criticism by drawing a distinction between the object and the aim ofthe sexual instinct. The sexual object is the concrete individual person, which is sexuallyattractive to someone; the sexual aim (libido) is the act towards which the instinct tends.72For Freud there is no innate connection between the sexual aim and any object. They aremerely “soldered together”. So, contrary to the “popular view”, Freud thinks that humansdesire to find an object that fits the sexual aim and, depending on the degree of corre-spondence, is more or less suitable for sexual gratification. During his study on sexual deviations with respect to the sexual aim, Freud no-ticed that even in most “normal” sexual processes, other activities are also involved, suchas touching, kissing and looking. These activities are pleasurable in themselves and inten-sify the excitation of the mere union of genitals. Under certain conditions these other ac-tivities and areas of the body – the erogenous zones – can take over the main sexual aimin so-called “perversions”. Perversions are sexual activities that either extend beyond thegenital regions, or linger the sexual union, the aim of which is, normally, intended to bereached as soon as possible.73 Freud draws two major conclusions from his discussion ofthe perversions. First of all, the sexual instinct has to struggle against certain mentalforces which act as resistances, such as cultural and ethical ideals, shame, and disgust.This results in a ‘repression’ of the sexual aim.74 Second, the sexual aim is not a simple“thing” but rather a composite of several elements, including, for instance, the touchingand kissing of, and looking at the different erogenous zones of the body. This points out asecond error in the “popular view” of sexuality, namely that the sexual instinct does nothave just one aim that “sexual” is not the same as “genital”.75 According to Freud, thethird error of the “popular view” of the sexual instinct is that it is supposed to be absent inchildhood, and first set in at the advent of puberty. Freud argued, on the contrary, that thesexual manifestations at puberty are only the second phase in the development of the sex-ual instinct. The first phase occurs already in infancy and childhood, followed by a periodof latency. In addition to this, the particular shape that sexual life takes at puberty and71 Freud, Sigmund, Three Essays on the Theory of Sexuality, SE: Volume VII, p. 135.72 Freud, Sigmund, Three Essays on the Theory of Sexuality, SE: Volume VII, p. 136.73 Freud, Sigmund, Three Essays on the Theory of Sexuality, SE: Volume VII, p. 150.74 Freud, Sigmund, Three Essays on the Theory of Sexuality, SE: Volume VII, p. 162. 29
  • 32. beyond is determined largely by the particular forms of sexual manifestation in those ear-lier years. Consequently, to understand the love life of adults we must trace back andidentify the main phases and forms of psychosexual development from infancy on. A unique feature of the development of the sexual instinct is that it is “diphastic”,it has two phases of development, interrupted by the period of latency. First there is theperiod of infancy (1-3 years) and childhood (3-5 years), and second, after a period of la-tency, puberty sets in.76 In the period of infancy there are two groups of instincts: thosethat are directed at the preservation of his organism (ego-preservative instincts), andthose that will, after inevitably anxious transformations, become genitally sexual (‘anacli-tic’ instincts). The former becomes manifest in the infant’s dependence on his mother fornourishment. Sucking its mother’s breast is the infant’s first act of love. But the infant‘ssexual needs demand gratification as well. Since no individual object of love is at hand,the baby’s sexual needs are “leaned-against” his ego-preservative needs, and this is whatFreud calls “anaclitic” needs. These anaclitic needs are the genetic root for love. They arenot of a passionate-possessive nature, but rather affectionate and quiet-intimate. The babydoes not seek to overpower this nursing mother, but rather welcomes and responds to theembracing comfort she offers.77 A closely linked phenomenon is what Freud calls “narcissism”. Here the motivat-ing force of the ego-preservative instincts themselves is explained dynamically in termsof a reflection of the anaclitic love for the mother towards the self (“the object I love isgood, therefore I am good”). What we call ‘adult love’ is always a function of these twobasic tendencies: taking one’s self as a love-object (narcissism) and attaching one’s self(anaclitically) to another person, who is prototypically the mother.78 In this first phase ofdevelopment, the construction of the “self”79 or “ego” (Ich), is in full progress. Newlyborn babies do not have an ego yet. It emerges as a result of certain situations later on, in75 See also: Santas, p. 102.76 Santas, p. 106.77 Morgan, p. 138.78 Morgan, p. 139.79 In his Introduction to The Ego and the Id (1923), Freud sometimes uses „ego“ to refer to a person’s selfas a whole (the self concept) and sometimes to a particular part of the mind characterized by special attrib-utes and functions (the agency concept) (see also: Meyer, J., and Bauer, B., „Ego Psychology“ in: Erwin,Edward (ed.), The Freud Encyclopedia. Theory, Therapy and Culture. New York and London: 2002,Routledge, p. 169). 30
  • 33. which some mental conflict needs to be resolved. The ego then becomes the executiveorgan of the mind. It negotiates the demands of the outside world as well as the demandsof the inside mental agencies: the “id” (Es) and the “superego” (Über-ich). Both the egoand the id attempt to satisfy the individual’s needs, but their methods of going about areradically different. The id insists on immediate gratification without regard to the conse-quences or steps necessary to achieve it, whereas the ego’s task is to mediate in such mat-ters in order to make the original wish or a substitute gratification possible. Similarly, thesuperego insists on total and immediate compliance with its usually moral demands, andit does so without regard to any mitigating circumstances and without concern about thecosts or the consequences of its requirements. The ego facilitates, transforms, or deflectsthose demands. It does so by taking into account the very factors that the superego ig-nores, and then balances and counterbalances the instincts using sublimation, neutraliza-tion and drive-fusion.80 In the first phase of development there are several stages: the oral, the anal, thephallic, and the genital. The phallic stage is the most important for Freud’s theory of love.It is marked by the first “real” experience of love, but still shares the characteristics ofinfantile sexuality, since it is dominated by a new erogenous zone: the genitals. Now theOedipus Complex becomes relevant. Essentially, it means that the child shows exclusiveattachment to the parent of the opposite sex, whilst jealousy and resentment for the parentof the same sex, which is considered to be a rival. In addition, the behaviour of the childtoward his parents, or brothers and sisters, is unmistakably erotic or sexual. However, at acertain point of psycho-sexual development, the “incest barrier” intervenes, which resultsin psychical repression. This leads to the child’s withdrawing from its knowledge andawareness of a part of its sexual aims: the sexual union with the parent of the oppositesex. The sexual instinct becomes “inhibited” in its aim and turns into affectionate or ten-der feelings. Later on, these feelings can become a component of “normal” love in thesense that they are directed to new non-incestuous objects. At puberty, Freud says, thesexual instinct develops into full strength, as the old familiar incestuous objects are takenup again and fuelled with libido. Now the adolescent is subject to very intense emotional80 See also: Lasky, R. „Ego“ in: Erwin, Edward (ed.), The Freud Encyclopedia. Theory, Therapy and Cul-ture. New York and London: 2002, Routledge, p. 168. 31
  • 34. processes, since he realizes that the parent of the opposite sex cannot serve as an object oflibido. Due to the intolerable content of the Oedipus complex, his anti-reaction remainsinhibited in the sub-consciousness. From this time onwards the human individual has todetach himself from his parent, and redirect his libido to an outside love-object.81 As we have seen, the central thesis of Freud’s theory of love is that all love issexual in its origin. But this statement must be put into perspective. Love for Freud is notsimply identical with the desire for sexual intercourse. Psychoanalysis extended anddeepened our common understanding of sexuality, and placed love relationships within acreative-sexual context of the libido. Freud says that all love “naturally consists in sexuallove with sexual union as its aim”.82 Love in its focal meaning is indeed sexual love (withsexual union as its aim) but in its broader meaning it also refers to self-love, familial love,friendship, charity, and love for non-human concrete or abstract things.83 Freud’s justifi-cation of this claim lies in the fact that observation showed us that sexual impulses aresometimes inhibited in their aim and are redirected toward a socially acceptable alterna-tive.84 In the light of this explanation, it becomes clear why Freud’s claim should not beseriously problematic. The word “sexuality” means for him nothing more than just thevery broad concept of love, which is not far removed from that of “desire”. Then, it be-comes notably less shocking to say of an infant that it needs milk and desires its mother’spresence, than to speak of a baby as sexual. But still, Freud meant quite clearly that in-fants have desires out of which will develop their later, explicitly sexual desires, and thatthe psychical problems they will later face, whether obviously sexual or not, will alwaysbe traceable back to childhood states and events. Empirical proof for this thesis wasfound in the omnipresent, but, due to an extraordinary feat of self-deception, ignored ex-perience of babies exploring their genital organs with evident joy, and the fact that babieslove to look at naked people. Between the desires of children and their subsequent adult81 Idem, p. 336.82 Freud, Sigmund, Group Psychology and the Analysis of the Ego (1921), SE: Volume XVIII, p. 90.83 See also: Santas, p. 117.84 Freud literally says: “psycho-analytic research has taught us that all these tendencies are of the same in-stinctual impulses; in relations between the sexes these impulses force their way towards sexual union, butin other circumstances they are diverted from this aim or are prevented from reaching it, though alwayspreserving enough of their original nature to keep their identity recognisable (as in such features as the lon-ging for proximity, and self-sacrifice“ (Freud, Sigmund, Group Psychology and the Analysis of the Ego(1921), SE: Volume XVIII, p. 91). 32
  • 35. needs lie redirections and refocusing, but not sharp breaks. Apart from Freud’s claim thatlove is sexual in its origin, two more claims are made concerning the concept of love.First, that “language has carried out an entirely justifiable piece of unification in creatingthe word “love” (Liebe) with its numerous uses, and that we cannot do better than take itas the basis of our scientific discussions and expositions as well.”85 The piece of unifica-tion that the German language carried out is paralleled in the English language. In bothlanguages the terms “Liebe” and “love” cover sexual love, as well as self-love, love forparents and children, friendship, love for humanity in general, and love for concrete ob-jects and abstract ideas. So psycho-analysis adopts this wide linguistic use and provides agenetic explanation of it86. Second, Plato’s concept of Eros coincides in important re-spects with the libido, the “love-force” of psychoanalysis. Now I focus on the two main characteristics of love: the exclusive attachment(Anhänglichkeit) and overvaluation (Überschätzung). These characteristics remain fairlyconstant throughout Freud’s writings. By “exclusive attachment” Freud means a libidinalobject choice of a single object, usually a person, with a view to sexual gratification.87What makes this attachment exclusive is that the amans is fully absorbed in the interestsof the amandum, and becomes jealous. What is important for us, however, is that this at-tachment may be only “sensual”, or only “affectionate”, or both. Attachment, which isonly sensual, is nothing else than object-fixation on the part of the sexual instincts with aview to direct sexual gratification. This fixation expires when its aim has been reached,and this is what we call common, sexual love.88 But what happens very often is that a re-vival of the expired need occurs, which forms a first motive to direct a lasting fixation onthe sexual object and for loving it in the passionless intervals as well. However, whetherlasting or not, this is only sensual or earthly love. When tender feelings of affection andcare are also attached to the same object, a full-blown case of being in love comes intobeing. Freud calls this combination of both sensual and affectionate feelings “normallove”.89 When, however, the two currents of feelings are not united on the same objectand the attachment is only on the tender and affectionate feelings, we have a case of love85 Freud, Sigmund, Group Psychology and the Analysis of the Ego (1921), SE: Volume XVIII, pp 90-91.86 See also: Santas, p 119.87 Freud, Sigmund, Three Essays on the Theory of Sexuality (1905), SE: Volume VII, p 199.88 Freud, Sigmund, Group Psychology and the Analysis of the Ego (1921), SE: Volume XVIII, p 111. 33
  • 36. referred to in art and literature. Freud calls this “heavenly love”.90 This kind of love isalso found in the case of psychically conditioned impotence that occurs in men, whoshow a sentimental enthusiasm for women whom they deeply respect, but who do notexcite them to sexual activities. He will only be potent with other women whom he doesnot love in this way and thinks little of or even despises. In such tragic cases, where sen-sual and affectionate love does not coincide in the same object, true love cannot blossom.To be in love with an adult initially means for a person to lose some of our narcissisticself-regard and, consequently, to lower himself in his own estimation. This can be psy-chologically justified by the hope of becoming an object of the love of another person,through which our self-regard is restored. In genuinely happy adult love, as in the primalstate, object-libido and ego-libido coincide.91 The second characteristic of love is over-valuation or overestimation (Überschätzung). Overvaluation consists in valuing the char-acteristics of the loved object more than those of people who are not loved, or in valuingthem more than at a time when the object was not loved. It also results in an unusual cre-dulity, as we view the amandum as an authority. This means that we blind ourselves tothe faults and weaknesses of the amandum, and idealise it, sometimes to a dangerous ex-aggeration of reality.92 But now I come to discuss Freud’s account of a person’s object choice. Why dowe fall in love with certain people and not with others, which are equally or even morebeautiful and good? As we have seen in the discussion on Freud’s theory of sexuality, thefirst choice of amandum occurs during the phallic stage when the child comes under theOedipus complex and is confronted with the incest barrier. Typically, the first love-objectof the child is the parent of the opposite sex or a parent substitute, such as a brother orsister. The prohibition of such a love relationship results in the repression of the incestu-ous sexual aims, which become inhibited. In puberty, however, the powerful current of89 Idem, pp 112-113.90 Freud, Sigmund, Five Lectures on Psycho-Analysis, Leonardo da Vinci and other Works (1910), SE:Volume XI, p. 183; and Group Psychology and the Analysis of the Ego (1921), SE: Volume XVIII, p. 112.The parallels with the love theory in Plato’s Symposium, where Pausanias distinguishes between ErosPandemos and Eros Uranios are evident here, although Freud does not express this explicitly.91 Freud, Sigmund, On Narcissism: An Introduction (1914), Standard Edition: Volume XIV, pp. 98-100.92 Freud, Sigmund, Group Psychology and the Analysis of the Ego (1921), SE: Volume XVIII, p. 91, 113.Freud also mentions several other features of love, such as ‘the longing for proximity and self-sacrifice’,‘traits of humility, of the limitation of narcissism, and of self-injury’ which, he tells us, occur in every caseof being in love. 34
  • 37. the libido can no longer be disguised, and must find a way in which it can be satisfied.Due to the obstacle of the incest barrier, the new love-objects are chosen in the worldoutside the close family. But, according to Freud, “these new objects are still chosen afterthe pattern (image) of the infantile ones”.93 Thus, the new love-objects are, as Freud putsit, ‘mother surrogates’ or ‘father surrogates’: they bear similarities to the actual father ormother. These characteristics may be obvious physical ones, or role-similarities: the older,caring type of woman or the father type of man who protects. Freud believes that for menthere are four conditions that characterize the choice of amandum: 1) Apart from theamans and the amandum, there should be an injured third party; 2) the amandum shouldbe more or less sexually discredited and its fidelity and loyalty should admit of somedoubt. According to Freud, this condition could be called that of the “love for a harlot”94;3) the amans passionately attaches itself time after time to different amanda of this ‘har-lot’ type, without actually finding satisfaction that lasts; and 4) the amans is convincedthat the amandum actually needs the amans in order to be saved from a complete loss ofrespectability and for a rapid and otherwise unavoidable sink to a deplorable level.95 These conditions make sense when viewed in the light of Freud’s Oedipus com-plex. The “injured third party” here is none other than the father himself, which is seen asa rival and must be overcome. The condition of the amandum being sexually discredited,is less obvious, since the ‘loose’ character of the chosen playmate, seems to contradictwith the grown man’s conscious image of his mother as a personification of impeccablemoral purity: a kind of “Madonna”. But while in the conscious mind “Madonna” and“harlot” are contraries, in the unconscious they are a united whole. According to Freud,this phenomenon can be traced back to the child’s accidental witnessing of parental inter-course, which is interpreted as an indulging in forbidden acts of the mother with anotherman (the father). The high value placed on women of low character is unconsciously as-sociated with this ‘infidelity’ of the mother, but consciously, the mother is still uniqueand irreplaceable. Consequently, the satisfaction that is sought is never found in the end-less series of love-affairs with “harlots”. Finally, the element of the “rescue” is also a de-93 Freud, Sigmund, Five Lectures on Psycho-Analysis, Leonardo da Vinci and other Works (1910), SE:Volume XI, p. 181.94 Freud, Sigmund, A Special Type of Choice of Object Made by Men (1910), SE: Volume XI, p. 166.95 Idem, p. 168. 35
  • 38. rivative of the mother-complex. It originates from a feeling of guilt of the man towardshis mother, because she gave life to him and took care of him. He now wants to repay hisdept by “saving” his surrogate mother and to beget a child with her.96 So to conclude this section: for Freud, the explicandum was the broad concept of“love” (Liebe), including sexual as well as non-sexual love. Taking seriously the linguis-tic indication that there is indeed such a unity in the concept of love he wanted to find onecommon origin for all kinds of love. A strong point of Freud’s explication is, therefore,that he immediately directs his focus on inter-human love (concept 4a). He never dealswith or refers to other concepts of love, which are unrelated to human love. Freud doesrefer to sexual love which is directed at non-animate objects (concept 4b), which he calls“fetishism”, but reduces this to a mere substitute of the normal aim of genital union. Ineffect, Freud denies that there is a genuine difference between sexual (concept 5a) andnon-sexual (concept 5b) human love, which need not be a problem, but rather provides animportant insight into the nature of love as such. A minus of Freud’s concept of love isthat it radically violates our common-sense conception that sexual love is something verydifferent from familial love and friendship. Associating young children explicitly withsexuality was, in the time of Freud, and is still today, one of the greatest taboos. For thisreason Freud was repeatedly urged by his friends not to use the word “sexuality” in talk-ing about infantile love, but he consistently refused, on the grounds that sexuality is noth-ing to be ashamed of, and that a scientist should be courageous.97 Freud seems to be not so much concerned with establishing the formal character-istics of love. As in the case of Augustine he implicitly assumes that love is a dyadic rela-tion, but nowhere mentions the formal characteristics of being non-symmetric, non-transitive and non-reflexive. An interesting feature of Freud’s concept of love is that ac-cording to his theory of narcissism, the love for an outside object is always unconsciouslyaccompanied by the hope of being loved in return, in order to strengthen the self-love ofthe subject. Love, from this perspective, is therefore always egoistic and narcissistic innature. This means formally that love relations are reflexive, since if “A” loves “B”, then“A” must also love itself. Concerning fecundity, Freud succeeds remarkably well in giv-96 See also Santas, p. 126.97 See also Morgan, p. 137. 36
  • 39. ing a non-trivial and coherent account of the whole concept of love. In making all lovesexual in origin, he can guarantee the fundamental unity of the concept of love. Anotheraspect is that Freud’s account of love and sexuality was very novel and, at the same time,evoked a true paradigm change with respect to the general perception of love and sexual-ity. Before Freud, sexuality had hardly been a serious topic for scientists to be concernedwith. Due to his new approach, which naturally had to deal with fierce opposition fromthe public on moral grounds, the door was opened to a whole new field for scientific re-search. One glance at the vast amount of literature that is inspired by Freud’s theory ofpsychoanalysis shows that his theory has indeed been fruitful. With respect to simplicitywe must, however, admit that Freud’s worldview and conceptual tools do not alwaysmeet the requirements of Freud’s own scientific ideals. He deliberately reintroducedmythical language and model-analogies into his psychoanalytic theory. This makes histheory quite obviously speculative and immune to scientific refutation. Officially re-nounced by science, Freud realised that he would never be able to explain neurologicaldeviations and sexual perversions without the use of metaphorical language and analogies.He was, however, applying his non-scientific terminology in a scientific sense, becausehe was willing to give up certain hypotheses if they would prove to be non-sufficientlysupported by empirical evidence. This way he abandoned several of his earlier hypothe-ses.4. Comparative evaluationAfter having discussed Plato’s, St. Augustine’s and Freud’s concepts of love individuallywe now proceed to the comparative evaluation, in which several aspects of the three con-cepts are contrasted. In Figure 2 the metaphysical models of each of the reconstructedconcepts of love are visualized. The arrows represent the different directions of the lovefrom an amans towards an amandum. Each of the models shall now be discussed. 37
  • 40. 3) pure form God amandum (aim): “Madonna” “harlot” 1)2) soul 2) amandum (object): person x person y amans 3)1) word language body 0) Superegoamans human being amans: Ego Id [Plato] [Augustine] [Freud]Figure 2: the metaphysical models of love.According to Plato, the first stage of love (1) the love of the amans is primarily directedtoward the beautiful words, language and body of the amandum. A higher kind of love (2)develops out of this primary erotic attraction, when the pure form of the beauty is recog-nised in the ‘soul’ of this person, through his body, words and language. The highest kindof love (3) is achieved when the amans recognises in the amandum the pure form ofbeauty, without being specifically related to any individual body or soul. Correspond-ingly, the ‘lower’ type of love aims at procreating beautiful children in the physical sense,whereas the ‘higher’ type of love intends to procreate beautiful ideas, such as laws, in-ventions or noble deeds. The third type of love aims at achieving complete immortalityand happiness. An important aspect of this higher type of love is that it only seems to bepossible in a homosexual love-relationship. From a genetic point of view it is relevant tonote that the stages 1 and 2 are necessary steps in the development toward the love for thepure form of beauty (3), which means that even in the highest state of love its erotic ori-gin is recognized. Augustine conceptualizes a similar “ladder of love”, but in his expur-gated version there is no trace of sexual love as the first step in the direction of the high-est love. The direct relation between a human subject and its earthly object (0), is re-nounced as vulgar and evil, and cannot even be properly called “love”. One should notdirect his love toward the ‘low’ things of the earth, but to the divine and eternal God inthe heavens. The metaphorical ‘up-down’ language must be taken very literally here, asGod’s love for his creation (1) is descending, man’s love for God (2) ascending, and the 38
  • 41. indirect love for neighbour a combination of the two. In Freud’s psychosexual develop-mental theory of ego, superego and id, no such intellectual development as in the previ-ous two concepts is envisaged. There is, for Freud, no “higher love” which ultimatelymoves away from the desire toward sexual union. Instead, the gratification through sex-ual union is a necessary, though not sufficient condition to achieve “normal love”. Forsuch a perfect love to be possible the individual has to overcome the incest-barrier thatprevents him from identifying the the aim of the “harlot” archetype of the sexually attrac-tive, but debased woman, with that of the “Madonna” archetype, which reflects themother as a source of tender affections and the reference point of moral impeccability andrespectability. With respect to sexuality, Plato saw Eros as a powerful motivating force capableof inspiring humans to the greatest achievements in art, science and philosophy.Augustine downgraded erotic love, but elevated love of God into the leading principle inthe life of virtue and the way to salvation, thus connecting the study of love inevitablywith the study of ethics. In his theory of sublimation, Freud takes a similar view as Plato,when he regards sexual love as providing our most intensive experience of pleasure and apattern in our search for happiness. All three authors would agree on the claim that wecannot develop properly as human beings and be happy, without the presence of somekind of love. But what exactly this love entails is, for each author, very different. When acomparative judgment is made we must conclude that Plato does very well in focusing oninstances of love people are commonly interested in: inter-human love. Despite his meta-physics Plato is able to generate a profound insight in the nature of love with all itscauses and effects. Augustine, on the contrary, fundamentally lacks this advantage, sincehe subordinates all inter-human love to divine love. It is therefore not surprising that he isnot able to arrive at a special insight concerning the problematic relation between sexualand non-sexual love. Even when condemning sex for pleasure, Augustine should havegiven a better explanation of it. Freud, however, reopened the theoretical investigationconcerning the relationship between love and sexuality and radically breaks with social,cultural and scientific conventions preventing this debate. His theory about the psycho-sexual development of the infant and the Oedipal Complex which consequently sets in, isa refreshing widening of the too narrow boundaries set by the Christian world view on 39
  • 42. sexuality and love. It must be granted to Freud that his concept explication was more suc-cessful than Augustine’s, although he also borrowed some aspects of Plato’s philosophy. However, where Plato’s concept of love brought us to the heavens, Freud man-aged to bring it back to our earthly proportions. He gave a comprehensive account of theissue as to how sexual and non-sexual love are related and how reconciliation betweenthem is possible, without presupposing Plato’s theory of forms. Instead, Freud is able toexplain the origins, development and consequent aims of love in his much more empiri-cally oriented theory of psychosexual development.ConclusionsIn the Introduction six research questions were formulated of which the first two havebeen answered in Chapters 1 and 2, which thematized the formal and semantic analysis ofthe concept of love. As an answer to the first question: “what is the formal structure oflove?” we found that love is a dyadic relation, which has two possible and necessary epis-temological aspects, which is non-symmetrical, non-transitive, and non-reflexive. Withrespect to the second question: “what sorts of things can love and what sorts can beloved?”, a definition tree was designed that systematically cuts up the concept of love bymaking distinctions concerning the nature of the subject and the object of love respec-tively. This way it was possible to differentiate between several “kinds” of love and, atthe same time, to allow for the various related concepts to be subsumed under more gen-eral concepts. In this semantic analysis, it was also established that the main focus shouldbe on the kind of love relation between two human beings, without ruling out the possi-bility of a human loving a non-human object or even a personal God to love a human be-ing. The third research question included two aspects concerning the causality in theconcept of love. First, the problem of what the ‘causes’ of love are, can be defined as thequestion of why we choose to love person “x” and not person “y”, although the latter mayhave admittedly better ‘qualities’. Augustine tells us nothing about the cause or reasonwhy we love a certain person, other than that it is a “low inclination to the flesh”. Thecause of God’s love for human beings is that he loves his creation as a father loves hischildren. Conversely, we naturally love our ‘father’ in heaven, and have a moral obliga- 40
  • 43. tion to do so. Plato’s account is definitely more informative on this point, since he claimsthat it is due to the fact that we ‘see’ the pure form of the beauty become manifest in ahuman body or in a person’s words. Freud has a comparable explanation in the sense thathe thinks we are attracted to a certain person, because he or she reminds us of our firstlove, which is usually the parent of the opposite sex. Santas98 thinks a parallel can befound between Plato and Freud, in the fact that they both discriminate between the aimand the object of sexual love. For Plato the lover’s aim would be the form of the beautyand through its experience the achievement of complete happiness, whereas the objectwould be the individual boy in which beauty becomes manifest. In Freud’s theory of lovethe aim is to return to the sensual gratification the lover experienced as an infant when hismother nurtured him. In the standard Oedipal situation the lover seeks an object that re-sembles the characteristics of the image of the parent of the opposite sex. These charac-teristics may be obviously physical ones, or role-similarities. In any case the aim is not tobe found in some higher abstract realm of entities, but in the developmental experiencesof childhood. I deem Plato’s and Freud’s account of a distinction between the aim and theobject to be insightful, because it corresponds with our experience of love. Secondly, with respect to the question “what are the effects of love?”, we can saythat for Plato the effects are very clear: love can drive us to madness, but it can also bringperfect happiness. Love is a demon with a double nature: on the one hand, the lover isoverflowing with love and may be called “rich”, on the other, he is always in need ofsomething, and, hence, is “poor”. Whenever the object of love is obtained, the lover is notcompletely happy, but always afraid to lose it in the future and, thus, by feelings of jeal-ousy disturbed in his happiness. This double nature is what makes Eros so difficult to un-derstand. In its effects, Plato distinguishes two aspects. One is the physical procreation ofchildren, and the second the psychic procreation of beautiful laws, inventions and moralactions. For Augustine the effects of love are that we finally come to knowledge of God’sdivine grace, and can be truly happy. The effect of sexual love is devastating for oursoul’s well-being, because it draws us only further into the earthly sphere, and does notcontribute in any way to immortality. Freud thinks we can attain a normal, healthy andhappy love life by combining the tender feelings of affection (associated with the con-98 Santas, p. 31. 41
  • 44. scious image of the mother and idealized as a “Madonna”) with the explicitly erotic lovefor the “harlot”, the unconscious interpretation of the unfaithful mother. The differencebetween Plato and Freud seems to be that for Plato the highest form of love is to love thepure form of the beauty, and to become insensitive to erotic seductions, whereas forFreud the combination of these two is unproblematic. Of course, instead of “the pureForm of Beauty”, “the infant’s experience of the affectionate tenderness and safety withthe mother” must be read in the case of Freud. The fourth question was referred to as the “hard problem” of love, since it seeksto find out what the complex relation is between sexual and non-sexual love. Plato pre-sumes such a unity, but focuses his explication on sexual love, since for him it seems tobe a more powerful motivator for action. He thinks that philia and agape are more settledforms of Eros, which can be adequately defined as derivative forms of affection, whichremain after the storm of Eros has passed by. Augustine thinks there is no relation at allbetween sexual and non-sexual love, since sexual love cannot properly be called love.Freud has a similar account to that of Plato, but emphasises the point more strongly thatall love is sexual in its origin. The sexual reduction of love in Freud’s philosophy is byfar the most controversial aspect of his theory of love, because it seems to contradict ournon-sexual experience of familial love and friendship. On the other hand is it exactly thispoint that solves the problem of the relation between sexual and non-sexual love, by mak-ing them all sexual in origin. The relation between love and philosophy (the fifth research question) is particu-larly present in both Plato and Augustine. Freud on the other hand nowhere connects thetwo, maybe because he considered himself to be a scientist rather than a philosopher. Hemay have referred to philosophy as an intellectual inhibition of libido. For Plato the con-nection between love and philosophy is obvious, since this is exactly the meaning of theword “philosophos”: a friend or lover of wisdom. Eros is not a mortal creature, but he isalso no God. In the Symposium Plato lets the character Diotima say that Eros is a demon:something in between the mortal and immortal with the ability to mediate messages be-tween the divine and the earthly. And here there is an obvious parallel between Eros andthe philosopher, since the latter is considered to be able to grasp “divine” knowledge and 42
  • 45. pass it on to human beings.99 For Augustine the true lover of God is also a true philoso-pher, since due to his intellectualistic interpretation of love, caritas coincides with thephilosophical desire for knowledge. Good lovers are good philosophers, according toAugustine, as long as they choose the appropriate object of love. And finally, the question of whether there is something like true love, and if so,how we can achieve it, is answered by all three philosophers. Although Plato doesn’t sayit in this way, true love for him is the love for the soul of a person in which beauty andgoodness is recognised. Love that has merely sexual union as its aim is only the firstsmall step on the ascending ladder of love. Eventually, this stage must be surmounted, forthe true purpose of the human soul is to realize his pure love for the form. For Augustinetrue love is identical with true knowledge of God and is achieved, in any case, by radi-cally changing the aim of love. In God, true knowledge, true love and true happiness co-incide. No love for earthly things can bring us closer to God; only the direct way will suf-fice, which is obtained by profound meditation. So for Augustine the meaning of love isidentical with the meaning of life itself. Also Freud thinks that living and loving are twonecessarily connected things, since his sexual love instinct is identified with life, whilethe opposite, hate, is the same as the death instinct. To love, we may, therefore, conclude,seems to be essentially connected with a fulfilled and meaningful life. If we are not ableto love, we are not able to live meaningfully, so all experts on love claim. Can it be that,indeed, love is the meaning of life?ReferencesArendt, Hannah, Love and Saint Augustine (1929). Edited and with an Interpretive Essay by Joanna Vecchiarelli Scott and Judith Chelius Stark. Chicago and London: 1996, The University of Chicago Press.Bury, R., „Introduction“ (1909) in: The Symposium of Plato. Edited, with introduction, critical notes and commentary by R.G. Bury, Litt.D. Cambridge: 1932, W. Heff- ner and Sons Ltd.Erwin, Edward (ed.), The Freud Encyclopedia. Theory, Therapy and Culture. New York and London: 2002, Routledge.Flash, Kurt, Augustin. Einführung in sein Denken. Stuttgart: 1980, Philipp Reclam jun.99 Symposium, 202d-203a. 43
  • 46. Freud, Sigmund, The Standard Edition of the Complete Psychological Works of Sigmund Freud (ed. Strachey, J.), London: 1957, The Hogarth Press.Geyskens, Thomas, Never Remembered: Freud’s Construction of Infantile Sexuality. Proefschrift ter verkrijging van de graad van doctor aan de Katholieke Universiteit Nijmegen (2002).Haring, Bas, De ijzeren wil. Over bewustzijn, het brein en denkende machines. Amster- dam: 2003, Pandora.Janssens, Petrus, Hoofdbegrippen uit de Platoonse dialogen Lusis en Sumposion. Proefschrift ter verkrijging van de graad van Doctor in de Letteren en Wijsbegeerte aan de Rijksuniversiteit te Utrecht. Maastricht: 1935, Gebrs. van Aelst.Kirk, G., Raven, J., Schofield, M., Die vorsokratischen Philosophen: Einführung, Texte und Kommentare, Studiumausgabe. Stuttgart and Weimar: 2001, J.B. Metzler Verlag.Kirwan, Christopher, Augustine [from the series: Honderich, Ted (ed) The Arguments of the Philosophers]. London and New York: 1989, Routledge Publishing.Kuhn, Helmut., »Liebe«, Geschichte eines Begriffs. München: 1975, Kösel Verlag.McKirahan, Richard, „Presocratic Philosophy“ in: Shields, Christopher, (ed) The Black- well Guide to Ancient Philosophy. Oxford: 2003, Blackwell Publishing LtdMorgan, Douglas, Love; Plato, the Bible and Freud. Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: 1964, Pren- tice-Hall, Inc.Plato, The Symposion. Edited, with introduction, critical notes and commentary by R.G. Bury, Litt. D. Cambridge: 1932, W. Heffer and sons Ltd.Rist, John, Augustine: Ancient thought baptized. Cambridge: 1994, Cambridge University Press.Scholz, Heinrich, Eros und Caritas. Die platonischen Liebe und die Liebe im Sinne des Christentums. Halle (Saale): 1929, Max Niemeyer Verlag.Santas, Gerasimos, Plato and Freud: Two Theories of love. Oxford: 1988, Basil Black- well Limited.Scofield, C. (ed), Holy Bible. Authorized King James Version. New York, London, To- ronto: 1967, Oxford University Press. 44

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