How to Define Love


What is love? The word is used in various forms to refer to a variety of emotions. However, the term ‘love’ is not a singular emotion; rather, it is the result of a complex tying together of emotions, which is a special form of emotional interdependence. Here are some ways to define love:

Love is the feeling of intense and deep affection for a person or a group. A person’s love for parents will differ from his or her love for a romantic partner or close friend. Love for a dog, for example, is an intense emotional bond. The concept of love is widespread and is celebrated on Valentine’s Day. Love is an intensely personal experience, and it requires both the person and the object to experience it. To fully understand love, a person must understand what it is and how to experience it.

To understand love, one must distinguish it from other personal attitudes and evaluation. The question of justification is related to the different accounts of love. A person who understands love as a matter of appraisal will respond to the question of why he or she loves the object of his or her affection by appealing to the beloved’s intrinsic values. This approach, however, leads to two related worries about the object of one’s love. This is the case with all forms of love.

Classical Greek philosophy includes a wide range of forms of love. For example, there are altruistic and passionate forms of love called agape, ludus, pragma, and storge (a loyal attachment between siblings), and mania, which is a form of obsession accompanied by a sexual passion. Modern philosophers have blurred these distinctions and often use the word ‘love’ in ways that are ambiguous.