First, we have ‘Ludus.’ Ludus is playful, juvenile, or uncommitted love. Ludus is commonly found during the beginning stages of a relationship (a.k.a. the honeymoon stage) and often involves activities such as teasing, flirting, seducing, and toying with someone. The focus is on fun, and also on the conquest, with no unwanted strings attached. Physical intimacy may be commonplace, though it is not necessarily so.
Ludus relationships are casual, undemanding, and uncomplicated, but typically land at extremes: they are either over very quickly or they endure for an extremely long time. Ludus works best when both parties are mature and self-sufficient (not to mention not jealous). But problems typically arise when one party mistakes Ludus for Eros, whereas Ludus is, in fact, much more compatible with Philia.
Finally, there is the 4th Love: Agape (Charity). Charity (agápē, Greek: ἀγάπη) is the love that exists regardless of changing circumstances. The chapter on the subject focuses on the need to subordinate the other three natural loves to Agape (Charity). As Lewis puts it, “The natural loves are not self-sufficient” and therefore must be subservient to the love of God, who is full of charitable love, to prevent their “demonic” self-aggrandizement.
Eros (erōs, Greek: ἔρως) for Lewis was love in the sense of “being in love” or “loving” someone, as opposed to the raw sexuality of what he called Venus. **Side note: Eros = root of erotic. Think about it for a second.** The illustration Lewis used was the distinction between “wanting a woman” and wanting one particular woman — your sweetheart, your soul mate, your better half. Eros turns the need-pleasure of Venus into the most appreciative of all pleasures but nevertheless, Lewis warned against the modern tendency for Eros to become a god to people who fully submit themselves to it and use it as a justification for extreme selfishness.
This love is known by the Greeks as storge and is translated as “affection, especially of parents to offspring.” Lewis states that this type of love is the least discriminating. With Affection, people who we normally wouldn’t find appealing or who bother us or who just don’t deserve any kind of love are still lovable and can still be loved. “It ignores even the barriers of species.” But, as Lewis points out, there are criteria that must be met. Affection is not felt towards those who are not familiar. Affection cannot be, or at least is not, felt towards people or objects or animals that are unknown.
Lewis begins this chapter by stating that Friendship is the least biological, the least necessary, the least instinctive of loves. Humans can and often did survive without friendship. They could rely on their herd or tribe to provide them with all of their needs. Friendship, in this view, is a luxury of sorts. It is not guaranteed nor is it necessary to live a happy life. Therefore, when this love is practiced and embraced in the proper manner, it is said to be sublime in nature. It is a Gift love and one that represents a spiritual maturity. “This alone, of all the loves, seemed to raise you to the level of gods or angels.”
C.S. Lewis wrote a fascinating and truly insightful philosophical treatise into the four key forms or versions of what we in the English-speaking world would simply refer to as ‘Love.’ He did this by drawing upon the vast richness of the literary world, especially those tales woven during the Middle Ages and Early Modern Period. Lewis begins by differentiating between two potential functions of love: Gift love and Need love. In what follows, I’ll provide a multi-segmented summary of Lewis’s treatment of Love from a philosophical perspective.