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The Symposium, A Philosophers Guide To Love

2171 words - 9 pages

As much as our society has become involved in the advancement of feminism and the equality of the sexes, there is one fact that neither gender can ignore; none can survive without the other. Love and the want of a soul mate keeps each member of man and womankind in constant search of the perfect person with whom to become one. Yet if this bond is a necessity of the human race then why has the meaning, purpose and pursuit of it eluded us for so many generations. There has yet to be a one universal explanation of love and there has yet to be one who understands it's powers fully. As we see from Plato's Symposium, even the wisest of men in a time when the search for knowledge was seen as the ...view middle of the document...

This point is definitely true yet Phaedrus failed to make a definite cause as to why this was prevalent. It may pertain to modern society that to suffer indignation in front of a lover as seen by the male would be to suffer the loss of one's masculinity and the inability to protect their lover, whereas for the female it may be the fear of inferiority that keeps the strive towards honor a constant venture in the relationship. In any case it seems that the main reason Phaedrus's point is valid is because in one of the driving forces in a relation is fear; fear of inferiority, fear of humiliation, and fear that they may lose the other person's respect.Phaedrus soon builds on this point by stating that a true test of one's love for their mate is the value of their life. Comparisons between the fates of Achilles and Orpheus are brought up to emphasize his point. As we learn from the legend of Achilles, a man was rewarded for the value he put on his friends life. Achilles sacrificed his own life in an attempt to obtain revenge for his friend. For this act Achilles was rewarded and seen as a hero. Yet on the opposite side of the spectrum we learn of Orpheus who was punished for his selfishness in that he would sooner have his loved one die than threaten his own existence. Because of this, Orpheus was punished. These examples help Phaedrus to show how the bonds of love can make a man dare to die for another.Later on in the text we find a less dignified motive behind the sacrifice of one's self for another from the woman who teaches Socrates the meaning of love. We are once again faced with the idea of respect as one of the driving forces in love. The woman proposes that the main motive behind the sacrifice may be that it is a way to gain immortality. By dying for another they would be considered a hero.. This may have been a valid reasoning during Plato's era because virtue and honor were seen as great characteristics of men. People were judged daily on these credentials and thus it is important in that era. Yet today our values of honor have changed. Honor is still a superior quality, yet the degree to which someone will go to gain the respect of another seems to be more relative to what the relation is between them and the person to be impressed. We are generally more concerned with gaining the respect of those who have an actual relation to us (Father, friend, acquaintance, etc.) than to the average stranger. Therefore this idea of sacrifice in the name of honor seems an invalid argument today.Soon Phaedrus concludes his oration and Pausanias steps up to deliver another set of guidelines for love. Pausanias concerns himself with a topic much like Plato's guidelines in the Ideal Republic where he stated that honorable and virtuous acts were only those that were applied to noble and just causes. Pausanias believes that honorable and noble love should only apply to that of the good and that the opposite would apply to love that concerned itself with...

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