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Analysis Of Plato's Platonic Love

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‘Platonic love’ today is defined by the Oxford Dictionary as a “love or friendship” that is “intimate and affectionate but not sexual.” A different definition provided by Dictionary.com described it as “an intimate companionship or relationship, especially between two persons of the opposite sex, that is characterized by the absence of sexual involvement; a spiritual affection.” In the definitions given above, the common understanding of ‘platonic love’ lies in the fact that it is non-sexual. It is important however, to note that the second definition included the specific notion of heterosexuality. While both the aforementioned constitute our common understanding of the term “platonic love” in the modern era, I believe that the original…show more content…
The basis of “platonic love” used in modern times lies in the fact that it is non-sexual, but I do not think that Plato was particularly advocating for non-sexual relationships. In my opinion, Plato did recognize the physical and sexual as a part of Love, but encouraged people to go beyond this limited and fleeting form of love and instead aim for the true Beautiful and Good through an intellectual pursuit. This can be seen from how the first two rungs of the Ladder of Love (scala amoris) are focused on the physical beauty found within bodies – the first within a particular individual, and the second found universally within all beauties. While he did suggest the need to ascend the Ladder of Love from these lower rungs to reach the true form of Love, he did not preach for their complete abandonment. In fact, Diotima’s speech about the climb stated that “upon realizing that the beauty of all bodies is identical, the lover’s obsession with the previous individual’s body will grow less intense and strike him as small (smikron)”. As Urstad puts it, however, “to regard the previous individual’s body as small is not to regard it as nothing at all”. The phrasing Plato chose for Diotima’s speech thus indicates the fact that the physical was in actuality not given up entirely, but merely diminished in favor of the more important intellectual aspect of Love. Furthermore, Amir also states how Plato saw the nature of the human being as a “double…unstable composition of body and soul, each governed by contrary impulses” – the “soul wants to move upward towards its home among the eternal Forms”, but the “body allows carnal temptations to drag it down”. The process of achieving Platonic Love is thus presented as a constant battle within oneself to restrain carnal desires and focus on the intellectual pursuit. Therefore, I argue that Plato was not in fact
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