platonic love

Essay by EB007University, Bachelor'sA, November 2014

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The Platonic Concept of Love: The Symposium

by Dr. David Naugle

Pondus meum amor meus; eo feror quocumque feror. St. Augustine, Confessions, 13. 9. 10.

Because of the centrality and power of love in human experience, men

and women throughout the ages have felt the compulsion to sing songs, to write

verse, and to tell stories about this ineffable and mysterious force which leads

them to the peaks of felicity, and to the depths of despair. Love indeed is an

ultimate, if not the ultimate, human concern. It is the universal principle

undergirding all human activity, the object of all human striving, resulting,

naturally, in the need to examine and discuss it carefully. Plato™s Symposium is

one such example.1 The venerable author in this ancient treatise records the

speeches of some six prominent Athenians who employ both story and verse to

convey a variety of myths and motifs about the nature and function of love (eros).

1 Most commentators on the Symposium agree that its subject matter is love. John Brentlinger believes that by giving an account of the nature of love in the Symposium, fiPlato means a description which classifies love (as a kind of object-directed desire) and proceeds from this to characterize and relate the objects desiredfl (8). R. A. Marcus asserts that fithe dialogue as a whole . . . presents in a dramatic way Plato™s view of lovefl (133-34). In a bit more descriptive manner, F. A. Cornford contends that the purpose of the fiSymposium is to explain the significance of Eros to the lover of wisdomfl (120). Thomas Gould™s view of the Symposium is also a bit more philosophical. He writes: fiThe subject of the Symposium is just that: the identity of the pursuit of the truly...