Student Philosopher: Plato’s Ladder of Love – Free Ebook

One of the most interesting ideas in Philosophy lies in [the] little masterpiece called the symposium written by the Philosopher plato in ancient Greece in 385 Bc The symposium tells the story of a dinner party that unfolded in athens at the home of a distinguished playwright called agathon Many interesting characters Gathered to share food and drink and talk about important things [they’re] lying on couches sharing excellent roasted food and vegetables And there’s good wine too at the start of the dinner party [the] host announces that he wants each of his guests to make a speech on what they think love or Arrows as they called it is Plato reserves the best and most interesting theory for his hero socrates who advances an iDea that becomes known as the door of love? after everyone has spoken and some are quite drunk [-] socrates tells us that Most of us start to learn about love in a very immediate and physical way By being powerfully attracted to one particular person’s face and body This is what we now call romantic sexual love However [socrates] is keen not to say that this is what love is or aims at in its essence This kind of bodily infatuation is just the starting point the first step in his famous ladder of love For socrates the love of one beautiful person isn’t and should never be the whole story it’s an invitation to step on a ladder that if we follow up when some with Thoughtfulness and dignity will lead us to an appreciation of bigger things like wisdom truth morality and goodness What’s interesting is [that] plato doesn’t want to censor our interest in lust or sex? He doesn’t [think] it evil or degenerate he accepts it But sees as a starting point however plato doesn’t want us to stay stuck on that run he invites us on a journey So we start with the love of one specific beautiful person? And then we move on past that one-off case to a love of the beauty of people in general And then we move up yet another run from a physical to an intellectual beauty the kind of beauty you might find in a work Philosophy or the laws of a city when you’ve become skilled at perceiving this sort of beauty You’re abled for example to appreciate the appeal of a beautiful mind even in an ugly body Eventually the true student of love is able to love what plato calls The Former Beauty itself which is synonymous with wisdom and goodness This all helps to explain why sometimes the sight of beautiful person might move us for plato This is because we [ensure] in them something beyond their appearance We sense that there’s a ladder that we’ve been invited to step on that will eventually lead us to wisdom Plato’s argument does two things [it] [crosses] the idea that an interest in beauty is shallow. It’s the starting point to something deep also it frees us [to] believe that beauty exists Beyond one person it exists in unexpected places The beauty of the mind is linked but superior to that of the body you might start lusting after a beautiful body But the argument goes the idea is that you may end up with a love of philosophy and truth you

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