Erotic Love By Aristophanes And Alcibiades

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Erotic love presents itself in two different ways—the traditional pursuit of a soul mate and a more abstract way—according to Nussbaum’s interpretation of Plato’s Symposium it has “two kinds of value [and] two kinds of knowledge” (Nussbaum 312). The first kind of knowledge and value is described by Aristophanes and Alcibiades, which defines love as the pursuit of wholeness. It constructs the idea that life is about finding the other half, Aristophanes explains a tale of traditional Greek mythology which reveals the concept of humans once being whole, but as punishment were separated into two beings, as a result life became the desire to become one again. Furthermore, Alcibiades contributes to Aristophanes description of love by telling his own life story of being unable to find his other half and describing himself as enslaved to love. Considering both accounts, Aristophanes and Alcibiades both share the common thesis that erotic love is defined by “[human] desire to be complete” (Plato 21). Despite Alcibiades contradiction of the theory through his fear of rejection, frustration, and loss; it is still prevalent because lessons can be learned from his hardship. Only through experience can this form of erotic love be understood. On a completely different page of understanding Socrates and Diotima argue the pursuit of being ‘whole’ is merely just a step towards the pursuit of erotic love. Socrates discloses erotic love as a ladder, starting with loving one person and progressing to loving the soul, eventually loving the form of beauty itself. Furthermore, Socrates argues loving the form of beauty exceeds the risk of frustration and rejection—the Forms are a constant that will never fail to please an individual. He believes the pursuit of knowledge through love’s desire for wisdom is the purpose of erotic love. However, his perspective is found to be abstract and complicated, his view is “removed from affection for concrete human beings” (Nussbaum 281). Particularly, it is difficult to understand his idea that human life could exist without jealousy, fear, affection and the emotions mixed with love. Ultimately, humans are drawn to relationships and connections with others; to introduce the notion that erotic love
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