Lewis’ Four Loves
The Four Loves by C. S Lewis majorly gives an insight into four types of love that can be broadly classified into two main categories. These are Gift-love and Need-love. There is a common conviction by Christians that mankind was created from the image of God, and since God is love from the Gospel of St. John, then man’s love should resemble God. Gift-love for instance, would be a case where “man work and plan and save for the future well-being of his family which he will die without sharing or seeing; of the second, that which sends a lonely or frightened child to its mother’s arm,” (Lewis 1960, 11). This kind of love is Divine and comes from the Father to the Son or from the Son to the Father. The Son gave Himself back to the Father for the sake of the world; thus, Gift-love.
Need-love is what mankind reciprocates for Divine love of the Father. God is the provider of all human needs and for the sake of human survival; man has to ask for help. This help is a necessity and Need-love is inevitable in order to tap in what man lacks and God has. In the general life, Need-love can be likened to material, psychological, intellectual needs that man needs to live a meaningful life. Most people only expect to be loved and if this doesn’t happen then no love is envisaged. And for this, (Lewis 1960, 13) point out that, “I cannot now deny the name love to Need-love.” Need-love can be denied at times due to egoistic nature of man; but in reality, Need-love is inevitable just like food is to a patient.
According to Lewis, Need-love from a man’s perspective is the most essential in catering for his/her own well being or to meet spiritual desires and comfort. Need-love is exercised when trouble strikes and man is in his/her most needy condition. God is not needy or desperate yet man approaches Him at helpless state; hence, the paradox of Need-love. Need-love in itself creates a sense of superiority to the recipient. It creates a divine authority that may lead to demonic behaviors. If man gives this kind of love to man or political administration, they become gods who in turn become demons. The result of this circus will be destruction as demons would wipe us out. (Lewis 1960, 20) affirms that, “For natural loves that are allowed to become gods do not remain loves. They are still called so, but can become in fact complicated forms of hatred.”
In the broader classification of loves, Lewis gives account of affection, friendship, Eros, and…. as the four types of love. Affection love is two-way affair in that it is that love that parents give to their offspring and offspring give back to their parents. A case in point is tender loving care a mother gives to her new born; breast feeding, pre and post natal care, among other responsibilities. An infant would need this kind of care and a mother gives this gift to a new born; hence, affection is paradoxical as it falls in two main categories of love; Need-love for a new born and Gift-love from a mother to a child. On the other hand, parents may need their children to take care of them in future thus, Need-love. Objectives of Affection love must be clearly stipulated but it is normally hard for people to tell when they star feeling affectionate; for example, that day when two people become friends could be remembered but not the day Affections strikes. This makes this kind of love the humblest, clandestine and humiliating.
The second type of love as identified by Lewis is Friendship. Friendship is not only considered as love not by poets but also a number of people in modern time. “To the Ancients, Friendship seemed the happiest and most fully human of all loves; the crown of life and the school of virtues,” (Lewis 1960, 87). This value of Friendship is has been ignored by the masses and most families refer to it as just friendship which is just extended to a few people who matters to a family. Lewis notes further that Friendship has been deemed as a thing that only keeps people going but not a major component of life fulfillment. The reasons for disregarding this form of love are varied. First it is because it is given less value which makes it difficult for Friendship love to be experienced. Due to this, Friendship varies significantly with other form of loves. Secondly, Friendship is less touchy and doesn’t make hearts thrill. (Lewis 1960, 88) asserts that, “Without Eros none of us would have been begotten and without Affection none of us would have been reared; but we can live and breed without Friendship.” In a nut shell, Friendship is regarded as another term for companionship; which to Lewis is quite incorrect interpretation.
Eros is the most conventional and widely popular form of love as identified by Lewis. When man says, ‘I am in love’ what he/she means is that he/she is experiencing Eros. As earlier stated in the essay, Affection love is mutual and can be seen as both Need-lone and Gift-love. Eros is also brings closeness and the main driving factor is human sexuality and human behavior towards it. However, it should be taken into account that sexual experience or intercourse will not necessarily imply Eros was experienced. Eros means more than sexual experience and this makes this form of love the most dynamic and most complex. Lewis distinguishes Eros from sexual, experience and refers to sexual experience as Venus. This sexual experience does not include the in depth psychological engagement but rather, the experience felt from simple observable behaviors.
Lewis identifies charity as the fourth type of love .He argues that charity is a gift love and originates from God. He illustrates that God has bestowed two other gifts that is natural and super natural gift. In this regards, Charity as a type of love come out adoration and sheer appreciation of another person. In a deeper analysis of the concept of charity, Lewis states that it is strange to understand how God created the natural receptivity of charity from other people. It is therefore prudent to note that man can actually develop an inner emotional drive couple with adoration of another individual. This kind of affection creates charity love which starts from an individual heart and is fulfilled by giving out help to others who are also naturally bestowed with responsibility to accept charity.
Plato’s Love Ideals vs. Lewis’ Loves Morals
This topic of love is also discussed at length by Plato and therefore for an in-depth analysis and comparison of the views of these two prominent authors, it is logical to first of all highlight Plato’s views on the topic and further compare and contrast their views concerning love. The philosopher gives different types of love in a different way compared to Lewis. Whereas Lewis literature gives his own opinion on love, in Plato’s Symposium the case is different. “The intervention of the Gods in the speeches of the philosophers can be interpreted to mean the different aspects of love and their affects on people,” (Nehamus and Paul, 1989). This is because those who stood to speak brought about independent opinions on love in the symposium that was organized in honor of Agathon. Nevertheless, it is the woman who is best positioned to give out the best definition of love. According to Plato, (2008a, 76);
Pausanias brings up an excellent way to think about Love. He explains that love can be broken down into two types that of Common and Heavenly love. The common love is that when a man and a woman join merely to satisfy their sexual desires.
Plato classifies love broadly in two categories: common love and heavenly love. (Plato 2007b, 143)defines heavenly love as that love that is touchy and involves two people. It goes beyond bodily attraction and is soulful. In this classification, his views tend to suggest that common love occurs between a man and a woman while heavenly love occurs between a man and a man. From this point of view Plato’s broad classification of love is two faced like the case of Lewis broad classification of love. The only difference is that while Plato calls them heavenly and common, Lewis’ broad classification name love as Needed-love and Gift-love. Variations of these broad classifications also differ in meaning derived from them. In his views of love, (Plato 1983c, 87) refers to lust as evil and immoral act only meant to satisfy sexual satisfaction. This is because the desire is solely directed to the physical body of another partner at the expense of his or her soul.
Since God is great and unanimously loved, speakers of Plato’s Symposium supported the views of Phaedrus that when a man loves another person it is pure beauty and a virtuous life lesson for the person. Phaedrus said, “A man of any nature would rather suffer humiliation in front of a great mass of people or all of mankind itself than to suffer the loss of respect or the loss of dignity in front of their lover,” (Nehamus and Paul, 1989). In addition, any relationship between a man and a boy is mutually beneficial to the two parties. In this case, the young boy benefits from the guidance and knowledge from the man while the man receives heavenly love. This distinction concurs with Lewis ideals of Needed-love that a parent gives to his/her kid and what he gets back; security in future. When Phaedrus stood to justify the claims love ideals, he compares the eventual life shapes that the lives of Achilles and Orpheus took. Achilles value for his friend demonstrates the level of love for he has for his buddy whereas Orpheus acts directly opposite to Achilles. This love can be compared to Lewis’ Friendship love that is extended to a few people who could add value to one’s life. Plato and Lewis both admit that this type of love is less touchy but is heroic if achieved by an individual. “Achilles sacrificed his own life in an attempt to obtain revenge for his friend. “For this act Achilles was rewarded and seen as a hero,” (Nehamus and Paul, 1989).
Socrates brings up another view of love in that, everyone is pregnant and desires to give birth. In this regard therefore, when a woman is pregnant she desires to give birth to another human being and when a man is pregnant he strives to give birth to another human being of self-identity or an idea. Plato therefore stands out to give credit to a woman’s contribution to the establishment of love and recognize a woman as a stronger sex when it comes to love issues. According to Socrates, love in the general sense of enjoyment to the fullest and possession of material wealth in view of Plato. This derivation of actual meaning from Plato’s interpretation could be wrong if Socrates’ statement could be viewed in another perspective. (Nehamus and Paul, 1989) quote the deliberation, “And what does he gain who possesses the good?' ‘Happiness,' I replied ‘there is no difficulty in answering that.' ‘Yes,' she said, ‘the happy are made happy by the acquisition of good things.” This statement could be contradicting if interpreted to mean material wealth is not a guarantee to happiness. Lewis does not suggest who between a man and a woman sacrifice for love as Plato.
Aristophanes spoke on love that is soulful and seeking. It is the love that existed when mankind was created. Man needed to look a woman with whom to procreate with. “Many modern faiths and cultures believe that each person is originally a part of on being that is split in two and that their other half is their one true love,” (Nehamus and Paul, 1989). Love type from Aristophanes speech is similar to Eros from Lewis’ four loves. This is because of the romantic nature of the two loves and also because it involve a man and a woman for sex and procreation.
Lewis’ four types of love were his collective views on how mankind perceives love. His arguments are based on Biblical teachings and supported by views of other philosophers. Though the types of love as identified by the Lewis could be conventional, the arguments given are varied and they do take psychological and philosophical interpretations. Judgment is based on personal conviction after reading and understanding these views. On the other hand, Plato’s types of love take the interpretation of great philosophers’ views on love matters. As much as their views might be right, their views reflect on society in the olden days. Some ideals on Plato’s love do not apply in the modern times and therefore, Lewis’s love types make more sense.