Love has various meanings for different people. Plato’s Symposium explores various meanings of love and its benefit to individuals and society. The conversation about love started as Athenian men of high moral standing the met in a drinking party and decided to discuss the meaning of love. The men engaged in a free discussion rather than a preplanned discussion to enable them to share their feelings and experiences of love with others. Aristotle views love as the desire to do good things to others. Aristophanes defines love by illustrating why people fall in love. Love plays a central and dominant role in human history which led them to use various use of various means of expressing their feelings. Love is the force driving human actions and imaginations. Plato’s Symposium provides details of six prominent Athenians expressing their views and experience of love conveyed through stories and verses. The Symposium presents a philosophical perception of love which provides an elaborate and diverse meaning of love by exploring all facets of human life. It is packed with the rich meaning of love by defining love as a source of power and strength, the origin of excellent and mighty deeds, and the source of courage.
The human being is always in constant pursuit of love, although love meaning different things to different people. Love is the source of wisdom and happiness. People experience love by sharing their knowledge, feelings, and experiences using various means such as songs, stories, dances, reading, etc. When a group of people meets to share their experiences and ideas about various things, they are motivated by the love of knowledge (Naugle 8). Love helps people to come together and share their experiences with others. Philosophers' love for knowledge gives them the drive to read and analyze information from various sources to discover the truth. Because of the love audience sit to listen to the philosophers and other performers. Without love, people cannot share their experiences and wisdom with others. As Socrates claims that learning learns to love are making strides towards discovering higher truth and beauty (Levy 285). Therefore, love involves discovering not only physical beauty but also the treasure of inner knowledge.
The Symposium discusses the view on why people love or Aristophanes myth. The myth distinguishes the modern human from the original human by arguing that the modern human was androgynous (Pinson 6). Also, the human original human had a spherical shape and moved by tumbling and rolling on themselves. Since the original humans were strong and posed a threat to gods, Zeus decided to weaken humans by dividing them into two with each half walking on its two legs and in an upright posture which represents the modern human. Aristophanes myth describes love as a human search for the other half to make the complete person (Naugle 11). Human achieves love by embracing each other and even engaging in other physical acts such as sexual relationship. Love makes humans complete by helping them to discover their missing part. This concept of love applies to love between male and another male, female, and another female, or male and female.
Human beings find love by relating to others. The definition of love from the concept of Aristophanes myth supports the widespread practice of homosexuality between older men and young men in western cultures (Naugle 23). There is a common belief that love begins with men and when men come together, they attain completeness or become whole by bringing the original halves together. Love is a strong bond that unites people to pursue the same course. The Symposium also describes love as a source of courage which makes people overcome any challenge (Pinson 6). When people come together in love, they gain the strength to perform many things. Love brings courage and makes people invincible. For instance, because of love soldiers pursue a normal course and fight their enemies. Because of love, people come together and become stronger, working together compared with working separately.
Apart from the physical expression of love, Plato’s Symposium describes other means which constitute love. People use storytelling, dances, and songs to express love. Listening to music brings peace and harmony by resolving the conflict between body and soul. The unity or bonding of body and soul which occurs by listening to music creates love (Naugle 27). Also, medicine brings love to human lives. Disease or illness brings conflicts between pain and happiness. Human pursues love by taking medicine to solve the conflict between happiness and suffering. Those who spoke first in the symposium glorified eros a god full of beauty and goodness that humans compete to praise and glorify. The focus of most men was on sexual love which occupied the mind and soul of most people (Pinson 7).
Society gave credit to the person who conformed to the lover for excellence even if the lover did not possess the perceived goodness because it boy took praise for being betrayed. However, Socrates has a different view of love from the rest. He disputes the claim that love cannot be ugly or beautiful but a desire to possess what is beautiful. Love is a means of achieving something functional and beautiful (Levy 285). Therefore, from this definition of love, it can be construed that love as anything that brings happiness, peace, harmony, and alleviates pain and suffering. It is a desire or means to achieve good or beautiful things or avoiding undesired things.
Critics argue that Plato’s Symposium offers the diverse meaning of love representing philosophical views and opinions rather than offering a distinctive meaning based on the conception of justice. The Symposium is based on feelings and views of individuals who could be misleading to people seeking to establish the true meaning of love and establish a relationship with others such as gods (Naugle 4). Nevertheless, the symposium presents the traditional views, beliefs, and practices of love representing human feelings and experience. People have different experiences of love, and the best way to define love is by understanding human feelings and experiences (Pinson 10). Therefore, Plato’s Symposium creates a foundation for helping human beings to understand different meanings of love.
In conclusion, the Symposium creates different ideas about love. It describes love as goodness and beauty which humans pursue by all means to attain happiness and fulfillment. Love makes people stronger and brings unity because when people are bound by love, they work for a common goal. Love makes people complete when they come together. It helps people to pursue beautiful and good things in life such as wisdom. Therefore, love involves both inner and external aspects of human which helps them to have a fulfilling life and enjoy peace and harmony.
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