Platonic Love: Unveiling Philosophical Insights on Eros, Relationships, and the Divine - Essay Example

Published: 2024-01-15
Platonic Love: Unveiling Philosophical Insights on Eros, Relationships, and the Divine - Essay Example
Type of paper:  Essay
Categories:  Philosophy Society Relationship
Pages: 8
Wordcount: 2008 words
17 min read

Plato's Phaedrus speaks about several issues, including knowledge and rhetoric, but it is typically taken to be a conversation of love. The prelude of love is expressed more often through speech and body language. The right and the poorly chosen words are used to bring out the idea that love should not surprise anyone in a relationship. In the presence of love, there is a desire articulated by the mouth to produce interplay between the expectations of lovers.

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Throughout the decades and even in modern society, platonic love has been classified into several subsections that include; eros, philia, agape, pragma, philautia, and storge. Eros love is sexually oriented. It is passionate, and in modern society, it is the one referred to as romantic love. Agape, on the other side, is a universal love that includes the love of God, according to believers. Philia is a type of love that exists between friends- It is directed towards friendship, and it can come with benefits such as dependability, or it can exist to mutually benefit the individuals involved. Storge love is the type of love that exists between parents and their children.

According to Plato, the friendship upon which lovers can have for each other is the best. Philia type of love comes from eros, and philia at the same time gets born into eros to strengthen it. Just like philosophy, erĂ´s has the aim of stretching human existence beyond limits and achieving the only species of immortality open to the human race. Philia not only strengthens eros but also changes it from mere lust for possession into a common desire for a better understanding of oneself, another person, and the world at large. In a nutshell, philia transforms erĂ´s from a mere lust for possession into an impulse for philosophy.

In the book "The Gay Science," Nietzsche says:

On earth, we may experience a kind of love where the craving for possessions between two people results in a new desire for a shared higher thirst for an ideal above them. The best name for this is friendship. In other words, if there can be a transformation of erotic love into the best kind of friendship, then a blissful life of shared meanings can open up. Philosophy and friendship blend perfectly in a blissful life of shared meaning.

In the Phaedrus, Plato's theory of love is brought out. Just as several Greeks of Plato's social position and era, he is more concerned about same-sex desire that may exist between an old and a young man. However, there is no solid reason to suggest that Plato's love theory doesn't apply to other erotic relationships. Having mentioned that, Plato gives a distinction between the love that gives rise to philia and the one that is enjoyed by those who are more concerned about the body than the soul. This baser kind of love is designed to obstruct the search for truth.

In the Phaedrus, Socrates mentions that madness is not only illness but also a source of man's greatest blessings. Four forms of divine madness exist; holy prayers, Apollo's prophecy, love from Aphrodite, and poetry from Muses. Seeing the beauty of the earth and getting reminded of true universal beauty is where the madness of love arises. It is so unfortunate that the majority of earthly souls have been corrupted by the body to the extent that they lose the memory of universals. When some people's eyes fall upon the earth's beauty, they are given over pleasure 'like a brutish beast' and rush on to beget and enjoy.

In contrast, an earthly soul that can recall universal beauty and feel true love gazes upon the face of the beloved and respects it as an expression of justice, knowledge, and divine temperance. As his eyes are catching those of his beloved, a shudder passes into unusual perspiration and heat. Like a toddler whose milk teeth are just beginning to grow in, and its gums all itching and aching in the same way the soul feels on beginning to grow wings. It tingles, aches, and swells up as it grows them.

According to Plato, the lover feels the utmost joy when he is with someone he loves and lonely when they separate. When lovers separate, the parts out of which the lover's wings were growing begin to dry. The pain is so intense because the lovers don't want to accept that they have separated, for they never expected to separate, and therefore they find separation as a bitter pill to swallow.

The lover who once allowed his soul to follow Zeus among other gods is seeking out a beloved sharing imperial and philosophical nature and then attempts to do all that he is capable of doing to confirm this nature that is in him. Therefore, the desires of the lover who is divinely inspired can only be blissful and fair to the one who is loved. With time, the beloved, who is not foolish, realizes that the beloved is of more importance to him than his kinsmen and friends and that neither the kinsmen's discipline nor divine inspiration could have offered him blessings. Thus great are the blessings from heaven which the friendship of a lover confers upon an individual. The attachment of the non-lover is bounded by worldly cautiousness and has earthly ways of bringing out benefits. The attachment of the non-lover breeds vulgar qualities in the soul, but a majority of people will applaud but will leave you a fool afterward.

In Plato's Phaedrus, he emphasizes the relationship between love and the divine, and hence to the infinite and eternal. He also emphasizes that there is also a search for truth and happiness in love. Socrates argues in the Symposium that love is for something if it is not for nothing, and it is for something that is desired if at all, it is for something. Socrates then relates a conversation he once had with a priestess from Mantinea called Diotima. From the conversation, Socrates learned the art of love; Diotima told him that the thing love desires but does not possess consists of extremely good and beautiful things, specifically wisdom, which is considered to be both good and beautiful in extremes.

Love, according to Diotima, must not be confused with the object of love, which, in comparison to love itself, is perfectly good and perfectly beautiful. Love cannot be a god, contrary to what people think if it desires beautiful and good things but cannot possess them. Love is always in need and always inventive, making it undoubtedly the child of resource and poverty. Love is not a god but a great spirit that is an intermediator between men and gods. As such, love is neither mortal nor immortal, neither ignorant nor wise, but a wisdom lover. No one wise desires to become wise, the same way no one ignorant wants to be wise. The purpose of loving good and beautiful things is to have them because human beings find happiness in possessing good and beautiful things. Happiness is an end in itself.

Diotima then advised Socrates on the proper way of learning to admire and love beautiful things. A young person should be taught to love one beautiful body first so that he can come to realize that a beautiful body shares beauty with many other beautiful bodies, and therefore it is not wise to love just one beautiful body. When a youth loves all beautiful bodies, he learns that the beauty of the soul is better than the beauty of the body. When a youth appreciates that the beauty of the soul is better than the beauty of the body, he will start loving those who are beautiful in the soul without caring whether they are beautiful in the body or not.

Once a young man has transcended the physical, he slowly finds out that beautiful norms and customs and different kinds of knowledge also share in common beauty. In the end, the youth is able to experience beauty itself, and not just apparitions related to beauty. Through exchanging the various shadows of virtue for virtue itself, the young man becomes a lover of gods, and he gains immortality. It is the reason love is so important and needs to be greatly praised.

According to Bagley (2015), happiness entails the exercise of reason since the capacity to reason is what makes humans different from other creatures. However, one can argue that the distinctive function of human beings is not the capacity to reason but the capacity to form loving and meaningful relationships.

Plato reconciles these positions by blending friendship and philosophy into a single total experience that transforms human existence and that connects it with the universal and timeless truths of the infinite and eternal. In Plato's view, authenticity and truth are of a higher value compared to love and reason, which aim at them, and a higher value than even happiness, which is merely the indication of their presence.

In Plato's dialogue, the Symposium, platonic love is examined. It generally has the topic of love, specifically eros, as its main topic or subject. The symposium explains the possibilities of how the feeling of love began and its evolution over time, both sexually and non-sexually. Socrates' speech is of particular importance. It attributes to Diotima an idea of platonic love as a means of the rise to contemplation of the divine. This ascent of love goes step by step, and it is referred to as the "Ladder of love." In Plato's view, generally, directing one's mind to the love of divinity is the right use of the love of humans. Socrates, on the other hand, defines love based on different classifications of bearing offspring (pregnancy). He refers to the pregnancy of the soul, body, and direct connection to being. A result of the pregnancy the body is a young human being, and pregnancy, which is the next step of the process, produces virtue, which is the truth transforming itself into material form. Virtue, according to Greeks, implies self-sameness. Plato also uses that term.

With genuine platonic love, the other person beautifully inspires the soul and mind, and one's attention is therefore directed to spiritual things. In Plato's Symposium, Pausanias explains that love is in two forms; earthly love and divine love. The earthly love is referred to as vulgar love, while divine love is the divine eros. Earthly/vulgar Eros is a mere material attraction towards a nice-looking or beautiful body for reproduction and pleasure. Divine love/eros starts the journey from attraction towards a beautiful form (physical) or body but gradually transcends to love for divine beauty. The concept of divine eros is later transformed into the idea of platonic love. Vulgar and divine eros are both connected and form part of the continuous process of pursuing the totality of being itself, with the intention of mending human nature, eventually reaching a point where there is no more aspiration to change. This is the point of unity. Eros is a moment of transformation so far as the other can never be possessed without being annihilated in its status as the other, at which point both desire and transcendence would cease. Eros is referred to as a Greek god in Plato's Phaedrus, and it is specifically referred to as the king of all the gods, with each guest of the party giving a eulogy in praise of Eros.

Plato's quoting on Phaedrus eulogy asserts that Eros's love is the most memorable, most competent, most honorable, and the oldest of the gods when the acquisition of virtue is taken into consideration.

In modern society, platonic love is considered an affectionate relationship where the sexual element is not a matter of concern, especially in circumstances where one might be tempted to assume otherwise. Platonic lovers function to perform a supportive role in which a friend sees his or her duty as mainly the provision of comfort, advice, and encouragement to the other person. It does not encompass inclusivity.

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