Plato's View of Love Essays

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Plato is often criticized for preaching the gospel of me first. The claim is that his understanding of love is essentially egoistic, and this is seen as troublesome for the obvious ethical reasons. But there may be an even more troubling issue with Plato's understanding of love. In this paper I will attempt to argue that for Plato, love is in a sense impossible; that it can only ever be a desire for something out of one's grasp. The stakes are high but perhaps there is a way to understand this problem in a way that seems a little less damning. To do this I will analyze arguments from the Lysis and the Symposium, first questioning even the possibility of love and then attempt to show that love is in fact possible, all though in weaker …show more content…

This is essentially the same kind of relationship I have to the plant in a garden. I water the plants, weed the ground around, allowing them to flourish and in turn they provide me with food. It seems on this conception of love I am equally able to love plant and a person, and do so in very much the same manner. If love then, is love the useful it encompasses so much as to become almost meaningless. It is odd to think of a young girl picking petals of a flower saying, "he thinks I'm useful, he thinks he I'm useful not." Or staring deep into a lover's eye and saying,"You are useful to me." In the Symposium Plato places Socrates in a dialogue with the goddess Diotima. She says two things of interest to this paper about love. Firstly, at 206a that humans when they love long to possess the good and do so for ever, and secondly that at 206b that "To love is to bring forth upon the beautiful, both in body and soul (Hamilton 558)." The first statement makes a claim about what love is, a desire to posses the good, and the second a statement about what love does, bring forth the beautiful. I will now briefly analyze both claims. If love longs to possess the good there are two possibilities, either man can come to possess the good or it can not. Now the good itself, the form of the good stands outside of the realm of human existence, it is not possible for men to see the form of the good. This can be derived from the worst

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