The Symposium: Plato about love and beauty
The Symposium is a philosophical text, by the Greek philosopher Plato, about love. What is his opinion about love? Where does it come from, what is it, and what is it for? The idea also comes ‘Platonic love’, of course from Plato himself. According to Plato, the best way to love is to have something, to love wisdom. That is exactly what philosophers do.
Eros was seen by the Greeks as the god of love, sex and desire. Plato starts here, with his argument about love. And then comes the idea that Eros might not be good and beautiful at all. This is because he strives for beauty, and therefore does not have it himself. He is also not bad and ugly, but something in between. Eros is not a god, but a ‘daemon’, a supernatural being that is benign and capable of being somewhere between people and gods. Gods are always beautiful and perfect.
Eros was conceived at a feast of the gods, where Poros, his name means ‘ability’, was present, with his mother Metis, whose name means ‘bereking’. Penia, “poverty,” came begging. Penia saw Poros sit, ‘poverty’ simply seeks ‘ability’, and she seduced him. Poros was drunk, so that worked. She became pregnant with Eros. Because Penia was not a goddess, Eros did not become a god, but a demigod, a daemon. All this happened at Aphrodite’s birth party. Aphrodite is the goddess of beauty and love. Because Eros had been conceived at her feast, he became her servant, and fell in love with her beauty, and so on beauty in general. He is always looking for beauty. This pursuit of good things, he has from his father, Poros, ‘ability’. However, his faults are from his mother, who, after all, was called Penia, “poverty.” That is why Eros is not beautiful and he has nothing.
Eros in philosophy
Eros is always between everywhere, between having and not having, and so also between wisdom and ignorance. He can therefore be a philosopher. Wise people and gods are not concerned with philosophy because they are already wise. Dumb people do not, either, because they do not desire wisdom. Only people from the group in between are philosophers. And Eros also belongs to this group.
Now that is what Eros takes care of in people: ‘love’. It creates desire, just as Eros always wants, especially beauty.
What is love?
But what exactly is love, according to Plato? The desire of Eros must be understood more broadly than most people perceive it. They think that love is limited to the desire for beauty. However, there is a desire for many things, and a love for many things. And all people long for the good, that makes them happy. All people love the good, and want to possess the good. The only things that people can love are good things. After all, nobody likes something that is not good, bad even. And so is love, longing for the eternal possession of good.
Love and beauty
Because love is the desire for the eternal possession of good, love is necessarily also a desire for immortality. That is why love is focused on producing. And generation, or, procreation, is only possible with humanity in beauty. The coming together of the man and woman is something divine, and therefore not something ugly, but something beautiful. And because love is focused on producing, it is also focused on the beautiful. Only with the beautiful can man produce. That is why people sometimes think that love is the desire for beauty, but it is precisely a desire to produce from beauty. In addition, people long for beauty, and beauty is such a goal for people, it is something good to desire.
How do we achieve beauty?
A young man, if he has not been busy with beauty for a long time, will focus on the beauty of one specific body. He will be in love with this body. However, soon he will discover that the beauty of that body is related to the beauty of other bodies. There is therefore no point in chasing the beauty of just one body. All bodies must be considered as one, as it were, and once this has happened, someone can fall in love with all bodies at once. After this step, the person will recognize that love for the body’s beauty is inferior to love for the soul’s beauty. He will find physical beauty unimportant. Eventually he will even abstraction from this, and he will fall in love with beauty in himself, instead of the beauty of certain things. If the person has reached this stage, he will see visions. He will experience beauty, perfect, eternal and unchanging beauty. This calls Plato the ‘idea of beauty’. All the beautiful things on earth are connected to it, and that is why they are so beautiful. They participate in the idea of beauty. As soon as you have seen this beauty, everything you can find on earth pales to beautiful things. This is the goal in the pursuit of beauty, the ultimate beauty. everything that you can find on earth blinds with beautiful things. This is the goal in the pursuit of beauty, the ultimate beauty. everything that you can find on earth blinds with beautiful things. This is the goal in the pursuit of beauty, the ultimate beauty.Art Plato also associate with beauty, but he’s not about to speak.