The Idea of Bodily Desire

Topics: Plato, Love, Socrates Pages: 4 (1641 words) Published: September 9, 2007
The Idea of Bodily Desire

Socrates, in Plato's work "Symposium", introduces the ladder of love through his conversation with the God-like figure, Diotima. The more knowledge about love one gains, the higher they climb and the less they focus on physical beauty. After Socrates has explained these concepts, Alcibiades steps in. He is confused because he himself is in love with philosophy, but he is also lost in bodily desire. According to the ideology of Socrates as expressed in Plato's work "Symposium" the musician girl from Mehta's "A River Sutra" is at the bottom of Diotima's ladder because she is so entirely infatuated and obsessed with the love of physical beauty, and not Socrates ideal, which is love of wisdom. In the same way, one might say that also Alcibiades is lost in bodily desire at the bottom of the ladder.

In Diotima's Speech, Socrates explains that Love is neither wise nor beautiful, but is rather the desire for wisdom and beauty; "love is wanting to possess the good forever" (Plato 52). He introduces love as a broader term; it is what makes a person happy, and therefore one only desires good things. According to Diotima, Love is a spirit that mediates between man and gods and is therefore not a god. He argues that an ascetic life with passion for wisdom and beauty is the true Love. By saying this, Plato is rejecting the act of sexual love. This argument is in harmony with a philosopher's pursuit of truth. The ultimate goal is to live a pure life so that afterlife goes as smoothly as possible. The body is in the way, trying to disturb this process. Therefore, he concludes, the philosopher's search for wisdom is the most valuable of all pursuits. Socrates states that understanding love is a process. The process is called the "ladder of love." One begins as a young boy who is attracted to one beautiful body in particular and together they take part in beautiful rituals. The next stage is to understand that all bodies are similar and that it is...
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