A Biological Approach To Love In Plato's Symposium

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In Plato’s Symposium, Eryximachus’ eulogy utilizes an intriguing biological approach in attempt to explain Love’s ubiquitous nature. Eryximachus relies on his credibility as a doctor to argue in favor of medicine being the science of love, however he neglects to explore Love’s human emotional aspect. Through the use of a presumptuous tone and the power of analogy, Eryximachus illustrates the crucial role Love plays when attempting to harmonize opposites, yet the structure of his argument fails to provide evidence of how a systematic approach to Love cannot bring harmony to human life.
Eryximachus begins his speech by acknowledging the existence of two types of love, “the love experienced by a healthy body” and “the love experienced by
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As a professional, he insinuates that his approach is far more valid than that of the others, and his knowledge of medicine serves as his basis when he condescendingly proclaims that Heraclitus’ observation that harmony can still be possible to achieve despite its components’ contrasting elements is “quite absurd” (Plato, 187a). Although arrogant, Eryximachus adds an appealing framework to his argument because he has challenged a distinguished figure and revealed insight into his own character. Eryximachus prides himself in being a man of logic and allows this pride to guide his counsel amongst the other men. His pragmatic nature is illuminated by his warnings against the ambiguous and floral poetry of the goddess Polymnia. Ambiguity, he believes, requires precaution because it can ultimately lead to passionate overtones, which is categorized by the bad love. Instead, he encourages the works of the Muse Celestia because her poetry is based on astronomy, thus leaving little room for emotional, creative interpretations. Eryximachus’ failure to recognize the significance and value of human emotions as necessary weights on the balanced scales of Love results in a flawed
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