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Literature / The Four Loves

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In Greek There Are Four Words For Love
"The only place outside Heaven where you can be perfectly safe from all the dangers and perturbations of love is Hell."

The Four Loves is a nonfiction work by C. S. Lewis analyzing four types of love.

  • Storge (Affection/Family) - This is fondness through familiarity, especially among family members or people who have otherwise found themselves together by chance.
  • Phileo (Friendship) - Friendship is a strong bond existing between people who share a common interest or activity. This includes what Lewis calls companionship; that is gregariousness of the kind which is found in a Good-Guy Bar or Local Hangout; as well as friendship proper which is between Heterosexual Life-Partners, Platonic Life-Partners and the like but often starts as companionship.
  • Eros (Romance) - This is love in the sense of 'being in love'. (This is distinct from sexual attraction.) This kind of love longs for the emotional connection with the other person. According to C.S. Lewis, sexuality is called "Venus." It can be part of "Eros," but on its own, it is not one of the loves, just desire (not to be confused with Lust which is this desire expressed in a sinful way ).
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  • Agape (Unconditional Love) - This is the love that brings forth caring regardless of circumstance. The essence of agape love is self-sacrifice. It is also a decision, not fueled by pure emotions (theoretically).

Trope Namer for The Four Loves, obviously.

Tropes included

  • A Friend in Need: Friendship will help, and not even care.
  • All Take and No Give: Both unhealthy Taking and Giving are dealt with repeatedly.
  • Commonality Connection: The book defines this as the beginning, and, indeed, the foundation of friendship. Phileo is a bond that is built over a common interest (hobbies) or commitment (field of study, career or vocation).
    “The typical expression of opening Friendship would be something like, ‘What? You too? I thought I was the only one.’”
  • Dysfunction Junction: What could be more natural than children to feel no love for an unloveable parent?
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  • Et Tu, Brute?: Affection is so naturally jealous that any deviation from the ethos of home, whether falling below it or rising above it, often feels like a betrayal to the rest of the family.
  • Feminine Women Can Cook: "Mrs. Fidget" (an example of self-serving generosity) always cooked for her family; even when they were happy with a cold meal.
  • Jesus Was Crazy: Lewis makes the point that, from the world's perspective, Jesus was crazy.
    He was not at all like the psychologist’s picture of the integrated, balanced, adjusted, happily married, employed, popular citizen. You can’t really be very well 'adjusted' to your world if it says you 'have a devil' and ends by nailing you up naked to a stake of wood.
  • Love Hurts: All love. Even that that doesn't go evil. There's no escape except in Heaven — and Hell.
  • Patriotic Fervor: Analyzed along with nature love as one of the most notable loves of the subhuman. Lewis describes five forms, in descending order from the very good to the very bad to a form sunk so low that it isn't even a love anymore.
  • Pet the Dog: Love for anthropomorphized beings such as pets and dolls is treated under affection rather then love of the subhuman.
  • Tragic Bromance: Discussed briefly, in that if someone in a group of close friends dies, that death not only removes that person, but everything brought out by that person's presence in others.
  • Trickster Girlfriend: Discussed at length in the chapter dedicated to Eros. The author metaphorically describes Venus as a Trickster Goddess who plays jokes on humans, and notes that "lovers are always laughing at each other".
  • True Companions: Most often Phileo, but if they are close enough friends it may become Storge.


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