The Four Loves
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A candid, wise, and warmly personal book in which Lewis explores the possibilities and problems of the four basic kinds of human love- affection, friendship, erotic love, and the love of God. ?ˇ°Immensely worthwhile for its simplicity...a rare and memorable book?ˇ± (Sydney J. Harris).

The Four Loves summarizes four kinds of human love--affection, friendship, erotic love, and the love of God. Masterful without being magisterial, this book's wise, gentle, candid reflections on the virtues and dangers of love draw on sources from Jane Austen to St. Augustine. The chapter on charity (love of God) may be the best thing Lewis ever wrote about Christianity. Consider his reflection on Augustine's teaching that one must love only God, because only God is eternal, and all earthly love will someday pass away:

Who could conceivably begin to love God on such a prudential ground--because the security (so to speak) is better? Who could even include it among the grounds for loving? Would you choose a wife or a Friend--if it comes to that, would you choose a dog--in this spirit? One must be outside the world of love, of all loves, before one thus calculates.
His description of Christianity here is no less forceful and opinionated than in Mere Christianity or The Problem of Pain, but it is far less anxious about its reader's response--and therefore more persuasive than any of his apologetics. When he begins to describe the nature of faith, Lewis writes: "Take it as one man's reverie, almost one man's myth. If anything in it is useful to you, use it; if anything is not, never give it a second thought." --Michael Joseph Gross

Customer Reviews:

  • Loves are beautiful, but 'the greatest of these is charity'
    An illuminating view on affection, the so-called 'the most humble', friendship, 'the least natural and the most independent', eros, 'the most natural' and charity, 'the noblest' of all loves, treated in terms of the so-called 'need love', 'gift love' and 'appreciative love'. The beauty and potential danger of distortion and abuse of each love is also covered excellently. C.S. Lewis is both a psychologist and a philosopher, a brilliant one. His treatment on this subject of love is important for every one to know; some that I personally learn and thought to be beautiful, are:

    - That we ought to love with decency and common sense;
    - The reward of the accomplishment of a gift-love is its abdication, when it is no longer needed.
    - When love becomes a god, it turns into a demon;
    - The calculating love is no love at all which leads to the beauty and mark of eros, where calculations are irrelevant, and when it is in us, we "had rather share unhappiness with the Beloved than be happy on any other terms", and finally...

    - The excellence of charity, confirmed in the Scriptures, something Jonathan Edwards calls 'the sum of all virtues', where Lewis exhorted to love God who will never pass away, "Do not let your happiness depend on something you may lose. If love is to be a blessing, not a misery, it must be for the only Beloved who will never pass away."

    - The gracious call to risk and forego for the greatest good. Speaking of Christ, Lewis says, "... His teaching was never meant to confirm my congenital preference for safe investments and limited liabilities... And who could conceivably begin to love God on such a prudential ground -- because the security is better? ...Christ did not teach and suffer that we might become ... more careful of our own happiness... We shall draw nearer to God, not by trying to avoid the sufferings inherent to all loves, but by accepting them and offering them to Him; throwing away all defensive armour. If our hearts need to be broken and if He chooses this as the way in which they should break, so be it."

    Get this book, friends, and learn that "loves" are beautiful, when handled properly, but 'the greatest of these is charity'....more info
  • C.S. Lewis at his best!
    If you don't have this CD set, buy it NOW! I have given several as gifts and all have thanked me! It is great to hear his actual voice! And there is a bonus preview by Charles Colson also read by himself! You will play it over and over because it says too much to grasp in one hearing....more info
  • Exploring the One Truth, Which Is Loving Kindness
    There are two types of love... true love and mundane love, mundane love is mixed and can be given, taken for selfish reasons, true love however has no shadow of selfishness, but is selfless in the presence of the object of its/his/her lover. infact true love empties itself into the person or thing it is loving. just as some of us empty ourselves into the posts we put on amazon. And in emptying ourselves we are filled with the satisfaction that we may have shared a little understanding (truth).

    i have given this book three stars because this is such a monumental subject lewis is writing about, and also because it is very honest. he is clearly wracked by certain doubts as pertains to his somewhat 'evangelical' slant which gives so many simple, though often emotionally unsatisfying answers. this is a christian exploring deeper than the answers he has been giving in his previous books. Having met Joy Davidson in September 1952, this book was published in 1960, but he is certainly asking some very difficult questions for which a simple answer just wont do. not knowing the history of lewis i can see that he was brave enough at the time of this book to confront certain loose ends in his once over-simplistic theology. [on page 154 in the chapter 'charity']

    some excerpts from p 154: Harper Collins 2002 edn: "God carried in his hand a little object like a nut, and that nut was 'all that is made'(Julian of Norwich). God, who needs nothing, loves into existence wholly 'superfluous' creatures in order that He may love and perfect them... the buzzing cloud of flies about the cross...[and] If i may dare the biological image, God is a 'host' who deliberately creates His own parasites causes us to be that we may exploit and 'take advantage of' Him. Hererin is love. (are these not the views of some, and with these 'some', he is struggling in the chapter on charity, clear as crystal. infact this whole chapter is a struggle. i find it sad some have said, he denied his faith at the end, no, he found it at the end!)

    those of us who have watched and loved the film "shadow-lands", though i hear it is not an entirely accurate representation of things, can see something of the struggle that was going on inside his mind as to just what is 'love' and what love demands of us. his future wife, Joy, a christian herself, and a divorcee was a very profound thinker and challenged the way he thought, right into the marrow of his bones, to the core of his heart and soul. his simple little packaged answers to difficult questions, of which at one time he was so sure all came tumbling down when joy was diagnosed with cancer. he married her shortly before her death... much to the horror of a traditional and evangelical church. one just did not marry a divorcee in those days! in the film, perhaps the most moving scene is when he admits... "i just dont have any answers anymore".

    the four loves are the four greek words: agape (charitas), filia, eros and sorge. the one we are interested in here encompases and enlivens the other three. the one is "charitas"/"agape", we do not have a new testament in the original hebrew sadly, but it is in my mind a certainty that the word 'chesed' or 'hesed' is synonymous with the greek usage 'agape' and that the word charitas is directly derived from chesed. this chesed or agape represents true love, or as the jews understand it 'loving kindness'. loving kindness is the force behind creation and salvation in the mind and heart of the jew. this too would have been the word in jesus that propelled him and moved him to will and act as he does and did. he would have grown up a witness of the chesed between his mother and father, and the chesed he shared with his parents and friends, even his enemies and the chesed between God and his chosen people.

    as christians though, we believe that Jesus was and is the personification of true love. that is... Jesus is Chesed, Jesus is Agape, God is Love. we christians believe that it was Jesus the Word that created all ("by him, all things were made"), we also believe that it is Jesus who will redeem all. "for he is the propitiation for our sins and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the 'whole' world." (Authorised King James version-New Testament). therefore Jesus is chesed. it is only sad that we cannot read the original hebrew to see this word inscribed before our very eyes. not only is chesed a word, it encapsulates the true nature and being of God. I wonder if the cHasidic Jews realize just how awesome their nameing, and the 'full' meaning of this name chesed.

    the awesome, and i have to use this word awesome again and again, christian revelation is that God is Love. God is Chesed/Agape. some will frown at this... "is not chesed, albeit the highest of all Gods attributes, only an attribute?" No, we as christians believe that loving kindness is God. And what is agape? agape is chesed! and what is chesed? chesed is 'true' love, and what is true love? true love is 'loving kindness'.

    lewis points towards a jewish translation when he calls agape 'gift love', this is because, chesed is a giving, merciful love without strings attached. it shows and shares itself with both the good and the bad, the obedient and the disobedient. it is a free gift. Lewis pointing at a christian understanding speaks of 'Love Himself'. the personification of Love, being God. (one person within three).

    it is from God that all good procedes, gods love is found in all and therefore all are God, love makes divine, that which is not divine, thus speaks the language of love, without judgement. the language of logic and reason says: "ah yes, but God is 'that' i am". correct, the truth however always resides in a paradox. that God is all and yet perfect in and as one. love says all is one, reason says one is one. love says everywhere, reason says over there. love knows all, reason knows nothing. or love knows all, reason knows very little. logic, analysis and interpretation can only take us so far, the reason has its limits, we must be prepared to open our hearts. chesed is more than an attribute, chesed is one, and makes all things one. its tendency is to draw together and not to separate.

    this is the earth-mending teaching of the early church, but not always remembered. that God is love/agape/chesed. lets try not to forget it, so please help us dear father in heaven to remember this and live it by your chesed/yourself.

    perhaps the most significant thing CS Lewis ever said was on the last page of his final book - "A Grief Observed" (here on earth), and that is that he had a direct experience of Joy's mind touching his... it was an experience of mind that was he said correspondent with love. mind is love, love is mind. pragmatism (mind) and altruism interface with love and its fruits. the mind of love, the heart of love. most doctors either have a good bedside manner, thus facilitating the individuals own inner resources to heal, or a good practical manner, thus healing through objective means. the ultimate doctor is one who combines both bedside manner and mind... a snow flake paradgm. one may become a buddha, or a doctor, whatever his slant, but he should aim for union of heart and mind. There has always been the ages old debate, is it developing the mind or developing the heart that will lead to ascendance? actually one should seek to develop both.

    with loveing kindness, by loveing kindness, from, snow-flake. xxx ...more info
  • Beautiful.
    In one of Lewis' Narnia books, he describes a quiet, restful place called The Wood Between the Worlds, where "You can almost hear the trees growing." Reading Lewis at his best, you can almost hear the spirit growing, taking up water through its roots in God.

    I can't say how much I've learned from this beautiful little treasure. Reading it for the first time twenty or more years ago, each chapter struck me as a revelation, and has been a part of the "spiritual furniture of my mind" ever since. (Though living up to it is more difficult.) It gives me food for thought on "like" and "love," how to treat animals, the beauties and dangers of friendship and romance, how they differ, the inherent riskiness of love, the disquises by which hatred can enter the soul, and what it means to love God and for God to love me. I do not agree with Gross above that this book is a more "persuasive apologetic" for Christianity than his other books, but I do think that non-Christians are likely to enjoy it. M. Scott Peck's books, Road Less Travelled and People of the Lie, (the first written as a Buddhist, the second as a Christian) can even be read as "case studies" of some of the points Lewis makes here.

    Four Loves proves that the most eloquent and deepest truths can be expressed in the simplest language. It (they?) would be a wonderful gift for a newlywed, a young person graduating from high school or college, or anyone else to whom you wish to express your love.

    author, Jesus and the Religions of Man...more info

  • Truly written book about Love
    This book is exactly what I have expected! It's about the true love, it's meanings, explanations and everything you need to know about many different kinds of love, such as love between friends, between man and woman, between parents and their kids etc. If you are interested in the subject, don't think about buying it. Simply but that book! ...more info
  • Highly recommended
    I own nearly 1000 books, of which a few I have multiple copies of: The Bible, Sun Tzu's The Art of War, The Prince. This book I have only one copy of, but have bought at least 5 that I can recall off-hand. That's because I loan it out, and it rarely gets returned (folks always return the Bibles, for some reason...). Anyone concerned with the nature and types of love should read this book. C.S. Lewis compares and contrasts love of God, Family, Lovers, and Friends in a way that makes good sense, is easy to understand, and is practical in real life. Should be required reading for anyone that has just started a relationship of any kind, or just ended a relationship for any reason....more info
  • Can't Beat It!!!
    This is one of the best recorded lectures I've ever heard! How can you beat hearing C.S. Lewis himself go through one of his best works. This is a must buy for any true C.S. Lewis fans. You get a much better picture of the man as a whole when you hear him speak. It is an excellent quality recording as well. Highly recommended!!!...more info
  • Great!
    Went beyond accommodating! You should use this service. Thanks so much! The CD was a hit!...more info
  • Best Book Ever Written on Love
    Lewis' genius in all his writings shows forth as piercing insight in warm and delightful prose, and he brilliantly succeeds in this book. There has been more written on love than perhaps any other topic, but the vast majority is mindless drivel or hormone driven blindness or sentimental fluff or philosphical madness. Lewis will have none of that: he sets forth the nature and varieties of human and divine love, and through his keen insight allows us to see ourselves, others, and God better.

    His basic franework for the book is looking at love through the four different kinds of love that the Greeks defined. He devotes chapters to the "natural" human loves of storge, the love of family affection; philia, the love of friendship; eros, the love of sexual love and romance. He looks at their characteristics, strengths, and weaknesses. He also looks at love through a three fold division between need-love, gift-love, and the love of appreciation.

    Lastly, he examines agape, the selfless love of charity. In some of the most beautiful passages he ever wrote Lewis describes how agape perfects our natural loves and prepares us both to truly love God and be like Him. "When we see the face of God we shall know that we have always known it."

    Leading a life marked by love is not a matter of just reading a book, but understanding the nature of God and the nature of love. This book is welcome wisdom in leading such a life....more info
  • A Spiritual Intuitive's View
    It was wonderful to actually hear Clive's actual voice and put a little more of the man behind all his words.
    I was left with the impression of an ascetic academic. Little of the passion and spirit of Christ was conveyed. For me, at least, there is an overriding feeling of fire in my heart which precludes and is present in my connections with people and when I'm in an Agape connection there is a world of spirtual and physical cues that flow.
    But the classification is useful and confirms that the greeks had figured this stuff out long ago.
    4 out of 5....more info
  • Keen Observations
    Though C. S. Lewis was a bachelor most of his life, he never lived alone. And the people with which he shared his home were far from perfect. In one of his letters, he writes that he often came home with a feeling of dread, because he was afraid of the horrible conflicts that had arisen in his absence. A peaceful home was something that Lewis did not experience very often.

    This - apart from his literary input - provided him with ample examples of what different kinds of love are like and what their corresponding weaknesses are. Especially the weaknesses. It does not come as a surprise, then, that "The Four Loves" is filled with everyday examples of human weaknesses, many of them in a home setting.

    As in his other writings such as "The Screwtape Letters," Lewis makes his observations of human nature with a keen eye and articulates them eloquently, focusing in this book on the themes of affection, friendship, romantic/erotic love, and selfless love (in the original sense of "charity").

    About romantic love, for instance, he says that oftentimes it "extenuates - almost sanctions - almost sanctifies - any actions it leads to. When lovers say of some act that we might blame, `Love made us do it,' notice the tone. A man saying, `I did it because I was frightened,' or `I did it because I was angry,' speaks quite differently. He is putting forward an excuse for what he feels to require excusing. But the lovers are seldom doing quite that. The confession can be almost a boast. In extreme cases what their words really express is a demure yet unshakable allegiance to the god of love."

    Strong words. But with much wisdom.

    "The Four Loves" is as challenging as it is delightful and instructive. I have little doubt that I shall read it again one day.

    - Jacob Schriftman, Author of The C. S. Lewis Book on the Bible: What the Greatest Christian Writer Thought About the Greatest Book...more info
  • Drawn to Lewis!
    I was drawn to Lewis because of his imagination and penmanship. Interesting enough Lewis majored in Classics, and I love that. One who has working knowledge of Greek will seek that coming through this volume.

    It can be a difficult read, but you have to slow down and reread paragraphs and sentences if possible. But you will be rewarded....more info
  • There's just no one like Lewis.
    The Four Loves is, first and foremost, an amazing work in and of itself. But actually hearing it in Lewis' own voice is another experience entirely, and brings it to a higher level. And I find it a remarkably professional sounding recording considering it's age. Every fan of Lewis' work should have a copy of this in their library -- there's no excuse....more info
  • Amazing for all ages
    This book truly grips the truth of love and helps people put relationship love and God's love into perspective. I am a teenager who was taken away by Lewis' great work. Any age male or female will be absorbed and grow in wisdom. The book has helped me make decisions that will benefit my future for the better and I am extremely happy to have the chance to read such a great work from an author as talanted as CS Lewis....more info
  • What IS Love?
    I wish I could thank C.S. Lewis for writing this book! Not only was it a joy to read, but it has helped change my life as a person and as a Christian. Those who are not Christians would even enjoy this book! His analysis of the different types of love from an academic and a theological viewpoint is very gentle to the soul and easy on the mind. I didn't expect it, but reading this book caused me to examine the types of love in my life, both in giving and receiving, and after doing so, lessened so much of the heartache I had before reading its pages.

    I highly recommend this book to anyone who wonders what love is, or if love is even worth having....more info