I imagine that the phrase I'm looking for involves the word 'metonymy', or 'metonymical', in some way.

The characters in question are unable to separate the concept of each kind of love with words associated with it, as well as with their gender roles.

I would use this in "The hubris of these characters is that they cannot __________, actual romantic and erotic relationships cannot be separated from carnal lust, storgic relationships that depend on ownership and submission, philia relationships require mocking, not just of each other, but of outsiders, and agapeic relationships, where unconditional love is demonstrated, idolatry and infatuation need to be demonstrated, in a truly Petrarchan fashion. In the same way, there are certain things that men are forced to do in certain situations, merely because their gender identity, in the case of men is based around conquest, and being macho, and in the case of women being dependant and subservient."

  • Do characters (in plays) have concepts of each kind of love to begin with? Who is, I'd be interested to know, able to separate the concept of each kind of love from the words associated with it?? That sounds like a philosophical and practical aporia to me. My advice: simplify that sentence.
    – Lambie
    Apr 30, 2017 at 17:54
  • The hubris of these characters is that they cannot distinguish types of love (philia, storge, agape and eros) and the words used for them.
    – Lambie
    Apr 30, 2017 at 18:09
  • @Lambie No. That's not what I mean at all. Not words associated with them, but concepts. Philia is inextricable from gender roles, as agape is from worship, storge is from ownership, and eros from base lust.
    – Piomicron
    May 3, 2017 at 15:30

1 Answer 1


If you adjust the structure of your sentence, you could say

the hubris of these characters is that they conflate the types of love.


to fuse into one entity; merge

  • meanings of love? Actually, types of love makes more sense: agape, storge, eros and philia.
    – Lambie
    Apr 30, 2017 at 18:04
  • @Lambie good point, I hope you don't mind I edited your suggestion into my answer, it is more accurate. Apr 30, 2017 at 18:07
  • @Lambie The only problem is, what they're doing isn't merging agape, storge, eros, and philia, these are kept quite separate, but associated words in each individual case are conflated with the word itself.
    – Piomicron
    May 3, 2017 at 15:31
  • I merely said that using types of love instead of the term that was there before is better. I do not understand what you mean by associated words in each case are conflated with the word itself. That does not make any sense to me at all. Are you thinking in Greek, perchance?
    – Lambie
    May 3, 2017 at 16:43

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