Definition of Philia

For many, the word philia is unfamiliar. What does it mean? Where does the word come from?

Philia is the Greek word for neighbourly love - the bonds of friendship that bind us together in community. More formally, we define philia as "the reserve of human warmth, enthusiasm and generosity that nourishes and stimulates the fellowship at the heart of civic life." By "reserve" we mean that these qualities already exist in our communities; we just need to draw them out. In other words, our communities are inherently resilient. The lens of resilience is fundamental to Philia because it makes us re-examine our assumptions about how individuals and communities function and grow. It reminds us that we are not merely passive recipients in need of outside support and intervention, but have a built-in capacity to heal, adapt, transform and survive.

In choosing the concept of Philia, we were deliberately looking for an unfamiliar term. We felt that if we used more common words, people would assume they understood the nature of our intention and bring preconceptions and limitations to the discussion. Our hope was that a new word would inspire curiosity and invite the reader to delve deeper - to reconsider our role as citizens and the nature of our interactions with each other in community.

Have Your Say