Philosophy - Socrates View of Love Essay

Philosophy Socrates View Of Love Term paper

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A Different View of Love We have heard definitions of love through our lives that have been passed on for decades. Some of us have felt love, and some of us have been in love. But no one ever seems to question what love is, as if it is something that just plainly is. People tend to just go with it, and think that what they are feeling is really complete and substantial love. In Plato’s The Symposium, the reader is confronted with some very different views of love as brought to us by Agathon, Phaedrus and Socrates, to name a few. Each man at the dinner party has a different point of view on the issue of love. Some of the men are old lovers, and some are just friends, and each puts in his thoughts of love as the evening wears on. Socrates’ theories of love are a little different than everyone else’s’. Being the great philosopher that he was, he had quite a different take on the issue. Socrates strove to find the truth in love. He was the “ideal lover of wisdom”, never allowing himself to divert from the real pursuit of beauty: Since beauty is one of the true and ultimate objectives of love. Socrates states that, “Love is the conciousness of a need for a good not yet acquired or possessed.” In other words we want what we do not have, and at times cannot have. Love for Socrates is a superficial occurrence and only based on the things in life that seem to be pleasing to the eye. But in the times when The Symposium was written that tended to be the case more often than not. No one is in need of what they already have. To possess something to its fullest is to have it, and therefore there is no need to ever have it again, or anymore for that matter. What we don’t think of when we hear a statement like that is that in the future we may not experience what we did in the past. Having something, and loving it makes us feel like it will always be there for us and that we will have it at all times. Socrates believes that even if you have all you want at the present time, that in the future you will want it as well. He says this to Agathon, “You already have riches and health and strength in your possession, my man ;what you want is to posses these things in time to come, since in the present, whether you want to or not, you have them.” (42). Socrates is seeming to disprove the age old philosophy of, we want what we cannot have because of that very reason we cannot have it. And once it is attainable it does not look so golden anymore. Socrates says that once we have something good we will always want it because it is beautiful. And if it is beautiful and good then it must be love, because all things that possess those two qualities have got to be love. This is where I see the problems in Socrates’ arguments. His explanations of love are in themselves correct and reasonable, but they get unclear as he goes on. By saying that a man who is strong will still want to be strong in his later life, and someone who is rich will still want to be rich he is correct because everyone wants the good things in life. What he does not explain in his argument is why his theories of love are based only around the things in life that are beautiful and good therefore in essence incredibly superficial. He says that if something is beautiful than automatically it is good and if something is ugly than automatically it is bad, “...wouldn’t love have to be a desire for beauty and never for ugliness?” (43). Love is supposed to be something that takes over your whole body and soul. We see love in our world as the ultimate feeling of happiness. A place in life where everything is ultimately better and nothing can possibly go wrong because love is an element that protects. The standard views of love are challenged by Socrates in The Symposium. He quickly can shoot down what the others have said because he is ultimately smarter than them, and a bit more confusing. Socrates defines love as existing only in relation to an object, and object it lacks, and that since loves objective is beauty, love cannot be beautiful. But as we know it love is beautiful. At least what we know of it. Some say there is no such thing as love and that we just classify feelings as love in order to classify them. In some way what we feel of love is beautiful. I would describe all the times in which I felt “in love” as beautiful experiences in which I felt complete, without a flaw and full of happiness. That is what love does for us. It makes us whole. I agree with the Speech of Aristophanes who says that we were split down the middle in the beginning of time, and that our goals for love are to find our other half in which we fit perfectly together. That is the goal of the generic word “love”. To find that other half. Someone with whom we feel completely unself-concious with. That is the beauty of the thing we call love. “Then if Love needs beautiful things, and if all good things are beautiful, he will need good things too.” (44). In this line Socrates states his conclusions of love. In the pursuit of love, according to Socrates, we search for things that are pleasing and beautiful. Of course what is beautiful is ultimately good, in a very shallow way, and we want what is good because no one ever desires what is bad in Socrates’ world. If we put this in to an algebraic type a=b and b=c therefore a=c, we can plainly see what Socrates was trying to explain. Love needs beauty, and beauty is good, therefore to love is to love what is good.

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