The Philosophic Concept Of Love

by Cyclic Magazine
For a complete expression of a philosophic concept of love, one must turn to Platos Symposium. Probably no other document in European literature has had as much influence on the philosophy of love.
The various speeches that are reported in this dialogue represent points of view with which Plato does not always agree but which he apparently thought important enough to be presented as typical.
These speeches range from an encomium of knowledge. In the following speech, by Pausanias, two kinds of love are distinguished, that of the heavenly Aphrodite and that of the early Aphrodite, or the love of the soul and the love of the body.
The former is more likely to be the love of a young man at the time when his reason begins to develop and his beard begins to grow. In this speech honorable love is clearly the attraction that a man has for a virtuous soul and is fused in the mind of the speaker with philosophy itself, which is the love of wisdom. It is this honorable love which Eryximachus then describes as the source of harmony and the preserver of the good.
The conclusion drawn from these encomiums is that love is in essence the love of beauty and that beauty is nothing material. It is an ideal. But no man desires the ideal until he has been educated through philosophic training.
In the final speech, which supposedly reports the philosophy of the seress Diotima, we find that there is scale of beauty, progressing from that of bodies through that of forms, thoughts, minds, institutions and laws, the sciences, to absolute or ideal beauty. Beauty, for Plato, was the one bridge between the two realms of the material and the ideal, particulars and universals.
What this Symposium adds is a discussion of the power that draws men to beauty in its many modes.
The two realms present not simply a duality of kind but also of value, for the ideal and the universal, which are perfect and eternal, are always to be preferred to the material and the particular.
Sexual love itself, although lowest on the scale of love, is nevertheless the seed of ideal love, since what attracts a man to the beloved is beauty.
Source:the encyclopedia of philosophy 
Plato Image I Source:Google 


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