Back in 2011, I bought a secondhand copy of the book called, "A Small Treatise in the Great Virtues," by French philosopher, André Comte-Sponville.
I must admit though that, just like all other Philosophy books, it would take me several times of rereading to fully understand what he means in the text.
Nevertheless, so far, I've learned that overall, there are three degrees of love: 1) want (eros), 2) joy or friendship (philia), and 3) charity (agape).
Charity, he says, is "more like a smile, when it is not a desire to cry, as it sometimes is." He explains that "our laughter can often be cruel; our tears rarely if ever are."
In addition, I have come to particularly like the following lines from this chapter on Love. "I rejoice in the thought that you exist... Thank you for existing, thank you for being what you are, for being real and not a figment of my imagination!"
According to Comte-Sponville, "this declaration is one of fulfilled love." It asks nothing in return. He adds that "sometimes a mere look, a smile, a caress, or a joy can say the same thing."
Oct. 8, 2012