What Makes The World Go ‘Round
The Comparison of the Greek notion of eros with the Christian ideal of agape: Is one concept of love superior to the other?
Love is nature, it transcends to the Heavens. Love is natural, as it is within our hearts. Love is a desire, but it is different in each one of us. The distinctive feature of love is that it is complex and carries a variety of desires. It is the universal connection that brings human beings together and share a quality given to them. It is understood to be universal as it is found in each and every single being in the world. Love is a community that never dies, just yearning for more of it. Love could be meant for an other, a habit or it self as its purpose is to fulfill ones natural desire. Many parts are connected to one another to make up the concept of love- there is no single word that can describe this desire as the complexity is far too diverse. The parts of love, that will be examined in the context are the Greek notion eros and the Christian ideal of agape, both of which might be similar to the naked eye, however with extensive research , follow different paths to the fulfillment of this number one desire. As these two parts of love follow entirely different paths, one outshines the other in more ways than possible, as it might not be common to a few, its desirable to most.
Most people recognize love as the fiery and passionate sexual desire. Eros is rooted in sexual desire, both homosexual and bisexual. These desires are condemned to be a natural process which is helpful in the productivity of a healthy mind. In fifth century Sparta, young boys who were cultivated into military training experienced the concept of sexual desire. This homosexual desire was deemed of importance by Socrates, as woman of that life were useless and far more undesirable than a male companion. Being a woman was undesirable because she was always categorized as second best, never higher than a man, as she was uneducated to be of any higher authority, than to a servant of a male. However, a male on male relationship would never get any further than sleeping next to each other or caressing in a appropriate manner. This is due to the fact that, woman had one role in life and that was to carry and give births to children. If a homosexual relationship went further than what was allowed, the woman’s role would be diminished and pregnancy would be descending to a detrimental fate.
Even though Eros is slated for being the love of sexual desire, that is only the basis of this complex love. The complexity is the passion of sexual desire, the means for creativity and the principle in mysticism, as well as the bond of union. Eros means so many different things where agape is a relatively simple concept. However, the word simple does not mean that agape has one meaning, It means that it involves one devotion, and that is the love of God.
“You shall love the lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might” and loving “thy neighbor as thyself.”
In reference to agape, God is the fuel that keeps man devoted to this perfect kind of love, however one must not believe it is not possible to love God in a way that we love others. This is due to the fact that God is in no way a “self”, but a Being, the Ultimate Being. This Being is the key to the Kingdom of Love the same way that the sexual desire ignites the flame to the love of eros. The distinctive feature of Christian agape is that it implies a picture of God as motion, in contrast to self sufficient perfection of eros.
Christian love cannot go unnoticed and must have an absolute devotion from its followers that is reminiscent of Plato’s love of Beauty.
There is a common desire of wanting the ‘Essential Beauty’. A beauty that is seemingly different depending on the individuals personal choice. This beauty is not only the attraction of the body but of the element of the true beauty. “He who loves the beautiful is called a lover because he partakes of it”, love on this planet cannot and is not the true being. Our souls wait to die and ascend to find a stimulating image of true love, of real wanted love. In order to fulfill the attachment of this beauty one must climb up the mystic ladder of the contemplation of Essential Beauty.
Beauty is what unleashes the desire for sexual affirmation and aids in the recognition of lust. However lust can be detrimental to the person who is the attraction of this lust because it can prevent him from finding the essential part of love. This unproductive idea of lust can be represented of the works in Symposium, where Alcibiades spends a night in a homosexual manner with Socrates. However, the night is described to be nothing more enticing than “sleeping with an elder brother or his father”. As discussed earlier, the homosexual sport cannot go any further than “cuddling”, as love is also the passion for creativity- to impregnate the beautiful.
Eros can also be recognized as the cosmic principle in mysticism: the idea of the ascent of the soul to contemplation. What this is all portraying is that the ascent of the soul is to the self sufficiency of contemplation, in terms of “If man has no need of anything, he will not cherish anything.” It’s the attitude of suppressed emotions, having no real feeling just a desire-personal relations. This meaning stands highest to the value of eros. However, as per mentioned, the highest value of agape is the love of God. Agape is self sacrificing love, a perfect kind of love, which is very different from the value of eros. Eros is a value that is captured by our needs, wants and desires, a self love to be accurate.
In contrast to their many differences, both notions of love share a similarity in the aspect of modeling a relationship. A relationship can mean several different things such as, loving your pet, your car, your spouse or yourself. In the notion of eros, the relationship is locked in by sexual desire, a passionate fuel that keeps the relationship in tact. The love is, in a sense, a gift from the source of existence. In the notion of agape, the relationship is held by the power of God, who is the key to the eternal true being for the very love which our true selves strive to have. Also, there is another notion of agape and that is the love for other’s. However, the love of God and the love of other’s are two entirely different aspects to a relationship, and one cannot love share the love of other’s the same way he shares with God, because God is not a “self” he is the Eternal Being.
In conclusion, Love is what the human mind desires the most, without it, the mind is left with an empty heart. Without love, where would we be? Love circulates around us on a day to day basis. The love for materialistic things, for others and for true beliefs all define us, in a way of discovering the true meaning of love. The different paths in which eros and agape follow might surpass the fact that even though agape is identified as a simple, ruling love, with less dimensions than eros, it still has a higher value than eros. Agape is a love that will last forever, because the source of existence is what keeps it together. Eros, on the other hand is a love controlled by our urges and desires, and sometimes those urges and desires can be detrimental to our well being. Eros can arise the bad things in life, where Agape holds only true and good things. So, to identify the love that is superior over the other, agape holds higher hierarchy than eros because without a strong foundation, the building cannot stand on its own forever.