What Does Love Mean? This Is What Children Say It Means

Throughout the ages there have been many questions boggling the minds of even the greatest thinkers. Who am I? Why am I here? Where am I going?

While the major part of science believes to have answered these questions to its satisfaction, those who analyse the questions spiritually will often regard the materialistic approach science takes as being incomplete.

Another concept that is a great mystery for everyone who has ever felt very attracted to another person, friend ,or thing is love.

Rafael's School of Athens Fresco. In the center pointing upward is Plato. (Image: Wikimedia/ΛΦΠ)

Rafael’s School of Athens Fresco. In the center pointing upward is Plato. (Image: Wikimedia/ΛΦΠ)

What is love?

What is love made of in its substance and why does it pose such a mystery to both the hearts and the minds of people all over the world? No matter the race or language, all humans seem to have a word that describes the concept of love.

While modern day people use the one-word love to describe everything, from the feeling toward another human, animal, thing, or even food and movies, the ancient Greeks used to be more precise.

In ancient Greece, they had three words to describe the fundamentally different ways that love could be shown and perceived.

1. Eros

The word eros (Greek erasthai) refers to the type of love which is passionate and resembles an intense desire for something or someone. Eros is mostly, however, considered a more sensual type of love and closest to the term we coin erotic (Greek eroticos). In short, one could call eros the love of the flesh.

Plato, a greek philosopher and once student to Socrates believed that “love we generate for beauty on this earth can never be truly satisfied until we die; but in the meantime, we should aspire beyond the particular stimulating image in front of us to the contemplation of beauty in itself.”

2. Philia

The term philia compared to “the passionate yearning of eros” describes more the appreciation of someone else including friendship, loyalty to family, and one’s society or profession.

In its nature however philia includes a selfish element (not in a negative sense), because this type of friendship is upheld because of it’s usefulness to one’s self. This could be the ties to business contacts or peers and people whose character and values  one finds pleasing.

3. Agape

Agape refers to the love between a parent and his child or the love toward the divine power of creation. It incorporates both the longing and passionate nature of eros and that of philia, transcends them however in a way that one could say it is more selfless in nature.

How children describe the meaning of love

Children have an amazing way of perceiving the world, and while it is somewhat primitive, it’s also pure and untainted by notions and preconceptions that grown minds often carry.

If you haven’t tried asking a child what love means, then you should do so while you still can. The answers will melt you hear, for sure.

The following video by Newsday shows children answering the question: “What does love mean?”

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