"Gapless vs. affectionate" (was Re: Musings on Love and Love)

Carl W. Conrad cwconrad at artsci.wustl.edu
Wed Oct 17 12:36:10 EDT 2001

At 3:02 PM -0400 10/17/01, George Blaisdell wrote:
>The lingerer that keeps me sipping out of this bottle, of course, is
>etymological.  Gapless vs affectionate.  And this etymology does indeed seem
>to confirm your notion that FILEO is the larger of the two, for if you are
>affectionate toward something, if you love it in your heart, then you will
>love it in-deed, and the loving in deed covers its gaps, covers its
>deficiencies, indeed, covers its sins...  Which is one of the big reasons
>why love is often deemed blind and insane...  A loving Christian sees and
>covers sins, whereas a loving non-Christian loves in the denial of faults.
>Or rejects upon admission of faults, so that when a 'gap' appears, the
>'love' [FILEW] disappears...

And here we go again, George, chasing the etymological "willow-the-wisp" or
"wind in the willows" or "rainbow leading to the pot of gold" or
whatever--your deep inner confidence that semantic problems are soluble by
etymology and your not infrequent assurance that an initial alpha is
esentially "Alpha privative", so that somehow AGAPH must derive from alpha
privative + GAP + -H noun stem, this leading on to "musings" on the ENGLISH
sense of "gap."

I'm not really convinced with Steve LoVullo that FILEW is the larger of the
two verbs, if we do try to take historical usage into account (and I'm not
sure that we really should in this instance); in this instance the root
sense of FIL- is kindred and FILIA is kindred affection. It seems to me
that one of the things usually argued about the NT sense of AGAPH is that
it transcends KINDRED affection, that it involves preferential treatment
not on the basis of lovability but on the basis of worth to God. Of course,
that's not, as Steve has noted, verifiable. And that's the reason why I
said myself, when this issue was raised anew by Ted Mann a couple days ago,
"It was a nice discussion, but I think it was the sort of discussion that
left those convinced of a significant difference and those not convinced of
any significant difference (of which I admit I am one) not very likely to
be moved by each other's arguments." And I think that's still true.

Carl W. Conrad
Department of Classics, Washington University (Emeritus)
Most months: 1647 Grindstaff Road/Burnsville, NC 28714/(828) 675-4243
cwconrad at artsci.wustl.edu OR cwconrad at ioa.com
WWW: http://www.artsci.wustl.edu/~cwconrad/

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