I wondered myself why I did not include love, and I think the reason was that I consider love to necessitate consideration not as a "quality" of our evolving species but rather as a fundamental construct of being itself.
In other words, our very being rises out of love if we understand love as the power of being. Thus, to love something or someone is "to let be." Perhaps, like conscience, compassion, curiosity, and coping, love may be considered as a quality of the New Humanity, but if so, it stands alone as the very foundation from which everyone and everything arises.
I am aware that this may appear as a philosophical and theological projection, but not so much if you consider the psychological dynamics love plays in our evolutionary consciousness. Consider, for example, the four dynamics of love as they evolved within the European and Christian frames of human bonding: agape, storge, philia, and eros.
Agape is the fundamental, grounding form of love associated with the Christian understanding of Christ. The sacrificial giving of his life stands as a supreme example of love as unconditional acceptance, care, and validation of not only human life but the whole creation. As such, agape stands not so much as the apex of human love but the foundation out of which all love appears. This is to say that the revelation of love, agape, associated with Christ made possible the understanding of human existence in which love holds everything together -- the unifying power of creation which has brought us to the awareness of a relational connection that grants meaning to human existence.
From this basic "ground floor" of life, we experience other expressions of love. Consider storge, for example. Storge is the natural bonding that occurs in families and other groups in which people are thrown together to work, or live, and/or play. The key here is that this form of love is natural. It follows the neural pathways of our brain and central nervous system, weaving together the dynamics of our triune brain: the instincts of our brain stem, the feeling capacity of our mammalian brain, and the rational structure of our frontal cortex.
Then there is philia, the love of friendship. We feel this dynamic in our native cities, our gatherings for holidays, sports events, our patriotic histories. People live and die for country, for the home team, for institutions that have played a role in our personal history. We may not know a stranger we meet for the first time, but we observe a class ring or some symbolic gesture, piece of clothing, or a song, and then the feeling of philia rushes up within us. We feel connected and share stories about our "history," our experience of some recent or distant commonality. In some instances, the feelings of philia even exceed those of storge for family members.
But it is eros to which I turn now and which I believe stands at the apex of human love. Eros is:
—an archetypal power
—a deity, in mythological stories
—a power that enlivens a person, a couple, a group
—a spirit of communion, togetherness
—an experience of meaningfulness
—a sense of desire
—a sexual excitement
—an autonomous complex
—a perceptible closeness and enjoyment of participants in the experience of eros
—a sense of something eternal and worth dying for
—an air of contagious infection
—a desire for union with the other
And yet, this dynamic experience of eros differs from hysteria, mob dynamics, or power- driven patriotic and political rallies. The difference may be subtle to some onlookers, but the key is that eros is life-giving, not life denying; eros brings light and not darkness; eros realizes the positive features of agape, storge, and philia in the uplifting spirit of supporting people to become all that they are, not less; and eros rides the fine line between danger and safety, not accentuating either extreme.
For example, consider eros as sexual desire. This is a fundamental drive for union with the other, and what is more fulfilling than erotic union with a partner, with whom there is present also the other dimensions of love: affection, friendship, and unconditional regard?
This is why the four loves belong together. Love is one; but it has many portals. And each portal leads us deeper into the mystery and meaning of our New Humanity. We are not robots; we are not machines. Neither as we puppets to be manipulated and controlled or used by others.
Finally, as far as we know, we are the only creatures in the universe who know love in its four dimensions. This is the glory, the excitement, the danger, the fulfillment, and the potential of what it means to be a human in love...
whose name is eros.