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Types of Love: Philos Love

Submitted by on February 18, 2007 – 12:42 am 3 Comments

Feb 8: while I was driving back to home from my work (after a hectic night call while caring for neonates), I happened to listen to Christopher Phillips on Brian Lehrer show at NPR (National Public Radio, New York). Christopher is considered what we call “public philosophers” (for details visit http://www.philosopher.org). His ‘Socrates Cafe’ is a way of going to public and generating ‘democratic communities of philospohical inquiries’.

He describes 5 types of love:
1. Eros Love (erotic love) 2. Philos Love 3. Family love 4. Agape love (unconditional love) 5. Xaneo Love ( I hope I heard the right word!): love for strangers.

Coming to Philos love which means ‘friendship love’. Love for country is also included under this category. Now in today’s world- which is fast loosing its boundaries in the era of electronic communication- there are also increasing polarizations! Taken in that context, love for country has two sub-sets: a] Compassionate love: where the citizen is cognizant of the fact that his/her actions (and thus the country’s) will impact the world outside! b] Xenophobic patriotism: “we are the best and other (countries) are hostile to us” kind of attitude! This is of course not a desirable kind of love!
Love for country is also manifested in many way. Do not think that our rabble rouser politicians who cry hoarse on public platforms are the only people who love the country! Many people love their motherland yet may feel kind of uncomfortable feeling passionate about it (so called silent lovers!).

Christopher says that xaneo love is little understood and often less talked! This means love for strangers (xenophobia is hate for people/strangers). Do not we many times feel compassionate about someone whom we do not know much and have met him/her very little! Christopher cites an example of a family in a border town in Arizona (which borders Mexico). This family- who have a big farm- have a tradition of having an extra plate at dinner table for a stranger. It has so happened with them that they have often been visited by strangers who having crossed into their country from Mexico have knocked at their doors in desperate times!

This reminds me of a story which I have read in Hindi literature. In a village ,there used to live an old couple who were very poor. But their doors were always open for the people! Once in a night time, a stranger knocks at their door and asks if he could stay at their home overnight as he had lost his way and could not reach the destination in time. The poor man welcomes him, but is perplexed as to how to serve his guest because the food which they had prepared for the dinner was hardly sufficient for two. The couple serve the food to his his guest first and go to bed without eating!
In the morning when this guest leaves, he offers them a small utensil as a gift. It so happens that the old lady cooks the food in this utensil later on and so discovers that as soon as she empties the container it fills up again! Thus they realize that God himself had visited their home the previous night and had awarded this gift to them!


  • Anonymous says:

    Agape love is what Jesus had for the human race.Family love is what sustains life.

  • Anonymous says:

    No one has time for true “Philos Love” or friendship love.All friendships are efriendships or networking for personal or public gains. You have expanded on only love for country under this type of love. Seems like you have not experienced “Philos Love”.

  • Anonymous says:

    The intellectual may elaborate & define many types of love. True love has some characteristics, common to all types of love.Love suffers long & is kind;love does not envy;love does not parade itself,is not puffed up;does not behave rudely, does not seek its own,is not provoked, thinks no evil;does not rejoice in inquity ,but rejoices in the truth;bears all things, believes all things,hopes all things.Love never fails the loved ones, just as God never fails us, for God is Love. True love is the manifestation of Godliness.

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