Platonic Love

Topics: Symposium, Platonic love, Plato Pages: 3 (1142 words) Published: April 7, 2012
Platonic Love

In the Symposium, which is normally dated at the beginning of the middle period, Plato introduces his theory of love. First thing to note is that in Plato’s theory, love is given and its existence is not questioned. The word love leaves the matter ambiguous as to whether we are discussing love in the normal, human, sense of the word, or if we are discussing desire in a much broader sense, but in this discussion we are only considering only love of type eros, love as a kind of desire that exists between two human beings. Symposium, is a dialogue by Plato, about a dinner party in honor of the tragedian Agathon, after they have finished eating Phaedrus suggests that each person in turn should make a speech about the praise of god of love. Symposium not only gives us theory of Forms in Diotima's discussion of the Form of Beauty, but it also gives us a number of varying perspectives on love. One more important thing to consider is that Diotima is not known to be a historical figure, and the way in which she is introduced suggests that she is almost certainly just a literary device developed by Plato to express his own ideas. In this theory, we see Plato rejecting the romanticization of sexual love, valuing above all an asexual and all-consuming passion for wisdom and beauty. Plato clearly regards actual physical or sexual contact between lovers as degraded and wasteful forms of erotic expression. Because the true goal of eros is real beauty and real beauty is the Form of Beauty, what Plato calls Beauty Itself, eros finds its fulfillment only in Platonic philosophy. Unless it channels its power of love into “higher pursuits,” which culminate in the knowledge of the Form of Beauty, eros is doomed to frustration. For this reason, Plato thinks that most people sadly squander the real power of love by limiting themselves to the mere pleasures of physical beauty. For understanding of Plato’s description of love it is very important to firstly...
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