Love, Art, and Beauty in Plato’s The Symposium

1. Introduction

In his dialogue The Symposium, Plato offers several different accounts of love and beauty. In this essay, I will first explain Plato's own views on art and beauty as presented in the dialogue. I will then turn to an examination of the three main speeches given by the characters Diotima, Pausanias, and Aristophanes. I will argue that while each of these speeches has merit, they also have significant problems. In particular, I will contend that Diotima's account of erotic love is ultimately unsatisfactory because it leaves out an important aspect of human love and desire. Pausanias' account, on the other hand, while more comprehensive, is ultimately not as convincing as it could be because it relies too heavily on an analogy with the structure of the city-state. Finally, I will argue that Aristophanes' speech is the most successful of the three because it provides a compelling account of love and beauty that is both grounded in human experience and based on a sound understanding of the nature of reality.

2. Plato on art

Before turning to an examination of the speeches given by the characters in The Symposium, it is worth briefly discussing Plato's own views on art and beauty as presented in the dialogue. As Socrates explains in his opening remarks, the purpose of the symposium is to celebrate Agathon's recent victory in a dramatic competition (176e). However, Socrates quickly turns the focus of the conversation away from Agathon and towards a more general discussion of love. One of the things that Socrates is interested in exploring is the nature of art and how it relates to love (177d).

In particular, Socrates is concerned with whether art is superior to love or vice versa (177e). He suggests that there are two ways to answer this question. One way would be to compare art and love in terms of their ability to produce pleasure or happiness (178a). The other way would be to compare them in terms of their ability to produce wisdom or knowledge (178b). Socrates suggests that if we compare art and love in terms of their ability to produce pleasure, then love is clearly superior because art can only produce a limited amount of pleasure whereas love has the potential to produce an unlimited amount (178c-d). However, if we compare them in terms of their ability to produce wisdom or knowledge, then art is superior because love can only lead us astray whereas art can help us to see things as they really are (179a-b).

It is clear from this discussion that Plato values wisdom more than pleasure and that he believes that the most valuable philosophical pursuit is the search for wisdom. This is why he values philosophy more than other art like comedy (180e-181a). It is also why he believes that true love must be directed towards wisdom rather than towards physical beauty (182a-b). As we shall see, this view has important implications for Plato's understanding of erotic love.

3. Diotima on erotic love

The first speech in The Symposium is given by Diotima who offers an account of erotic love that draws heavily on Platonic metaphysics. According to Diotima, love is not simply a desire for physical pleasure but is instead a desire for immortality (189c-d). This is because we love things that we consider to be good and we want the things that we love to last forever (190b-c). However, since nothing in the physical world is truly good or lasting, our love can never be completely satisfied (190d-e).

Diotima goes on to explain that the only way to achieve immortality is through procreation (191a-b). This is because when we have children, we are creating something that is a part of us but that will also outlast us (191c-d). In this way, we are able to achieve a kind of immortality.

Diotima's account of erotic love has a number of interesting features. First, it emphasizes the importance of platonic love or love that is directed towards wisdom rather than physical beauty. This is in keeping with Plato's own view that wisdom is more important than pleasure. Second, Diotima's account provides a metaphysical explanation for our desire for love. This is significant because it shows that our desire for love is not simply a physical desire but is instead a desire for something that is beyond the physical world. Finally, Diotima's account highlights the fact that love is not simply a private experience but is instead something that has important social and political implications. This is because our desire for immortality can only be achieved through procreation which means that our love must be directed towards others.

While Diotima's account of erotic love has many merits, it also has some significant problems. First, Diotima's emphasis on the importance of platonic love means that she downplays the importance of physical beauty. This is problematic because it fails to recognize the role that physical beauty plays in our experience of love. Second, Diotima's account leaves out an important aspect of human love and desire. In particular, she does not discuss the role that sexual attraction plays in our experience of love. This is significant because sexual attraction is often what first leads us to feel attracted to another person. Third, Diotima's account relies heavily on Platonic metaphysics which makes it difficult to understand for those who are not familiar with Plato's philosophy.

4. Pausanias on the multiplexity of love

Pausanias offers a different account of love in his speech which focuses on the multiplexity of love (195e-196d). According to Pausanias, there are two main types of love: earthly love and heavenly love (195e-196a). Earthly love is motivated by our desire for physical pleasure while heavenly love is motivated by our desire for wisdom or knowledge (196a-b). Pausanias goes on to explain that there are also two intermediate types of love: commonlove and courtly love (196b-c). Commonlove is a combination of earthly and heavenly love while courtly Love consists primarily of heavenly Love with a little bit of earthly Love mixed in (196c-d).

Pausanias goes on to suggest that the different types of love can be usefully compared to the different classes of people in the city-state (197a-b). He argues that the philosopher-kings are like those who are in heaven while the auxiliaries are like those who are in between heaven and earth (197a-b). Pausanias goes on to suggest that the different types of love can also be usefully compared to the different types of animals (198d-e). He argues that the lions are like those who are in heaven while the foxes are like those who are in between heaven and earth (198d-e).

Pausanias' account of love has a number of interesting features. First, it provides a helpful way of understanding the different types of love. Second, it highlights the fact that love is not simply a private experience but is instead something that has important social and political implications. This is because our love must be directed towards others in order to achieve immortality. Finally, Pausanias' account offers a useful analogy between the different types of love and the different classes of people in the city-state.

While Pausanias' account of love is more comprehensive than Diotima's, it also has some significant problems. First, it relies too heavily on an analogy with the structure of the city-state. This makes it difficult to understand for those who are not familiar with Plato's philosophy. Second, Pausanias' account leaves out an important aspect of human love and desire. In particular, he does not discuss the role that sexual attraction plays in our experience of love. This is significant because sexual attraction is often what first leads us to feel attracted to another person. Third, Pausanias' account fails to recognize the role that physical beauty plays in our experience of love.

5. Aristophanes on Love and Beauty

Aristophanes offers a different account of love and beauty in his speech which is based on the myth of Aristophanes (206d-207e). According to the myth, humans were once two-faced creatures who had four arms and four legs (206e-207a). However, they were so arrogant that Zeus decided to punish them by splitting them in half so that they would only have two arms and two legs (207a-b). As a result of this punishment, humans are now constantly searching for their other half so that they can be whole again (207b-c).

Aristophanes goes on to suggest that our desire for love is motivated by our desire to find our other half and that this is why we feel attracted to those who are similar to us (207c-d). He argues that this is also why we find physical beauty so attractive because it is a reflection of inner beauty (207d-e).

Aristophanes' account of love has a number of interesting features. First, it provides a helpful way of understanding our desire for love. Second, it highlights the importance of physical beauty in our experience of love. This is significant because it shows that our attraction to another person is not simply a matter of sexual desire but is also a matter of aesthetic appreciation. Third, Arist

FAQ

Art theory is the study of the nature of art, beauty, and taste. It investigates how these concepts are related to one another and to other aspects of human experience.

Plato's The Symposium discusses art and beauty in several ways. First, it introduces the idea that there is a connection between love and beauty. Second, it explores the role of art in our lives and how it can help us appreciate beauty more fully. Third, it discusses how our understanding of beauty changes as we grow older. Fourth, it suggests that art can be used to achieve certain goals in life, such as wisdom or happiness. Fifth, it argues that art should be appreciated for its own sake, not just for its usefulness. Sixth, it provides some examples of great works of art and explains why they are beautiful.

The various speakers in The Symposium contribute to the discussion of art and beauty in different ways. Socrates brings up the idea that love is connected to beauty. Aristophanes talks about how our perception of beauty changes as we grow older. Agathon emphasizes the importance of appreciating art for its own sake. Alcibiades makes a case for using art to achieve certain goals in life such as wisdom or happiness

Some key ideas about art and beauty that emerge from Plato's dialogue are that (1) love is connected to beauty; (2) our perception of beauty changes as we grow older; (3) art should be appreciated for its own sake; (4)art can be used to achieve certain goals in life; and (5) great works of art are beautiful because they express truths about reality.

Our understanding of art and beauty would be different if we took Plato's ideas into account because we would realize that (1) love is connected to beauty; (2) our perception of beauty changes as we grow older; (3) art should be appreciated for its own sake; (4)art can be used to achieve certain goals in life; and (5) great works of art are beautiful because they express truths about reality.

The implications of Plato's thoughts on art and beauty have for us today are that we should appreciate art for its own sake, not just for its usefulness, and that great works of art are beautiful because they express truths about reality.