Love in Plato’s Symposium

The term “love” is not an easy thing to define or talk about and in Plato’s Symposium the reader is presented with many ideas of what love can be and why those ideas can be misleading. During the symposium, Phaedrus suggests that love is one of the oldest and strongest forces and that it inspires people to behave with good morals. Eryximachus picks up saying that love inspires order in not only people but in the arts and sciences as well. Aristophanes and Agathon say that love is young, wise, and beautiful inspiring people to search for their other half. Socrates however, does not buy into their speeches and instead says that love is not all of these good things (beauty, wisdom, virtue, etc) but it is instead the desire for those good things, and that in their speeches the other men confused the topic with the things they love. Desire that in Socrates mind isn’t bad or good. This conflict shows suggests that Plato sees love as an amoral concept (not good or bad) that is hard to grasp for people, since they talk instead about the thing they love and not love itself when they talk.

2 thoughts on “Love in Plato’s Symposium

  1. Yes Plato regards love as immortal things. He first uses the views from Diotima to point out that love is not good and beautiful, because good and beautiful things are desires for people’s love. Also, love is neither mortal nor immortal, but is a spirit. However, later Socretes comes back to say that love is immortal either on body or on minds, because people needs beautiful things and they wants to keep these things forever. One way to keep the things immortal is through reproduction over sex. This process is beautiful. Another way to keep the things immortal is through the minds which is the desire of giving birth. When there’s a desire to leave the beautiful things, virtues and wisdom, to their young lives, we can say that this is immortal on their minds.

  2. Your point in your conclusion about Plato’s concept of love being amoral is well-taken, Alexandr: it is precisely this amorality that has led many critics and students of Plato be worried about the many intolerant, violent, and extreme forms that Platonism may take (because, many of them argue, some varieties of Platonist believe themselves in possession of the form of beauty/true/wisdom or on the way to it).

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