Welcome to the world of LOVE
These are some questions I’d like for you to think about before our discussion on Friday:
- What is your definition of love? Are there different kinds of love like there are different kinds of needs?
- What are some famous works of art (music, painting, stories, etc.) regarding love? HINT: there are many.
- Is romantic love a form of madness? Is the love of God the purest form of love there is?
THE PLATONIC LADDER OF LOVE / BEAUTY
- A particular beautiful body. This is the starting point, when love, which by definition is a desire for something we don’t have, is first aroused by the sight of individual beauty.
- All beautiful bodies. According to standard Platonic doctrine, all beautiful bodies share something in common, something the lover eventually comes to recognize. When he does recognize this, he moves beyond a passion for any particular body.
- Beautiful souls. Next, the lover comes to realize that spiritual and moral beauty matters much more than physical beauty. So he will now yearn for the sort of interaction with noble characters that will help him become a better person.
- Beautiful laws and institutions. These are created by good people (beautiful souls) and are the conditions which foster moral beauty.
- The beauty of knowledge. The lover turns his attention to all kinds of knowledge, but particularly, in the end to philosophical understanding. (Although the reason for this turn isn’t stated, it is presumably because philosophical wisdom is what underpins good laws and institutions.)
- Beauty itself–that is, the Form of the Beautiful. This is described as “an everlasting loveliness which neither comes nor goes, which neither flowers nor fades.” It is the very essence of beauty, “subsisting of itself and by itself in an eternal oneness.” And every particular beautiful thing is beautiful because of its connection to this Form. The lover who has ascended the ladder apprehends the Form of Beauty in a kind of vision or revelation, not through words or in the way that other sorts of more ordinary knowledge are known.
This is my personal favorite Plato piece on love: (It is 50 pages- only the strong will survive this dialogue, I caution you.)