Symposium by Plato

Reaching for Nothing: Love as an Idea in Plato’s Symposium College

Plato’s theory of love is one of the great thinkers' most whimsical and inspiring dialogues. In his discussion regarding love, Plato theorizes that love is ‘neither beautiful nor good.’ Love represents the desire of the human individual to attain true pleasure and authentic happiness by achieving that which is good and beautiful. It is in this endeavor of aiming to achieve this lofty and ultimately immovable virtue that one can find love in terms of the human emotion. Some critics such as Vlatos argue that Platos’s thinking does not accurately account for individual and interpersonal love, finding flaws in Plato’s argument. However, Plato’s definition allows for a more universal perspective of love that takes into both the personal and the existential.

Donald Levy argues that Plato’s portrayal of love accurately encapsulates the full range of love in the human experience. Levy maintains that Plato does not idealize love, but presents the virtue in its true form. Regarding Plato’s dialogue on love, Levy states that, “Those who speak before Socrates mainly share the typical Greek tendency to glorify the instinct of sex rather than its particular objects” (285). The Greeks traditionally viewed the impulse for physical love as...

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