Tuesday, October 21, 2008
The English word love can have a variety of related but distinct meanings in different contexts. Often, other languages use multiple words to express some of the different concepts which English relies mainly on love to encapsulate; one example is the plurality of Greek words for "love". Cultural differences in conceptualizing love thus make it doubly difficult to establish any universal definition. Although the nature or essence of love is a subject of frequent debate, different aspects of the word can be clarified by determining what “love” isn’t. As a general expression of positive sentiment (a stronger form of like), love is commonly contrasted with hate (or neutral apathy); as a less sexual and more emotionally intimate form of romantic attachment, love is commonly contrasted with lust; and as an interpersonal relationship with romantic overtones, love is commonly contrasted with friendship, though other definitions of the word love may be applied to close friendships in certain contexts. When discussed in the abstract, love usually refers to interpersonal love, an experience felt by a person for another person. Loves often involves caring for or identifying with a person or thing, including oneself .In addition to cross-cultural differences in understanding love, ideas about love have also changed greatly over time. Some historians date modern conceptions of romantic love to courtly Europe during or after the middle Ages, though the prior existence of romantic attachments is attested by ancient love poetry.Because of the complex and abstract nature of love, discourse on love is commonly reduced to a thought-terminating cliché, and there are a number of common proverbs regarding love, from Virgil's "Love conquers all" to The Beatles' "All you need is love". Bertrand Russell describes love as a condition of "absolute value", as opposed to relative value. Theologian Thomas Jay Odor said that to love is to "act intentionally, in sympathetic response to others, to promote overall well-being".