Symposium I

Six Men

Situation: Six men talking about love.

Different ways of describing love occurred in Plato’s Symposium.  A moral meaning I gained from this is that, as a reader, I am being challenged to improve (or at least consider improving) the way I think love can best be described–after all, love (or rather Love, as in God) is what I center my entire life around, so shouldn’t my description of it be as strong as I can possibly make it?

The literal text lays out some four different ways of best describing love: common love (namely lust) for young men, heavenly love or eros (deeper, more intimate than solely the sexual), “celebrating the god” Love (as opposed to talking about what Love does for man), and erotiké–the science of love and how it is “of something.”

When I go above and beyond the latter (factual) paragraph and aim to gain a meaning described in the former (moral) paragraph, I analyze my current understanding of “love” and realize it is mainly in line with the description of love as heavenly–though it contains parts of the other three descriptions as well.  Ideally, I would like to be along the lines of “celebrating the god,” just as we Christians are called to proclaim: “Praise the Lord in the heavens, praise Him in the highest, alleluia!”  Indeed, my ideal description of love is not as Socrates (the most intellectually-respeted of the six men) had said it, his primary focus being the erotiké, which seems less significant (blog-reader, at this very moment I am considering changing my mind…) because praise and celebration of love (again, my definition of love is God–though I am aware that these men talked of Love as a spirit or daemon) surpasses describing love in terms of the science of love.  (Blog-reader, I now am changing my mind to agreeing with Socrates in that it is more significant to describe love before praising it–for it would be ignorant to celebrate something that one misunderstands, just as Agathon misunderstood love by saying, “[love] is…beautiful,” when in reality, according to Socrates, love cannot be beautiful because it is constantly seeking beauty and therefore cannot seek something it already has.

To state my new moral meaning plainly, it is that in order for me to best describe love (both love as God, as well as love in its other definitions), I should first assure that I understand what my describee believes “love” to be, in order that incase their definition of love is far different from mine, they won’t think I am praising “love” as defined by them, for it may be far different from the “love” I am celebrating.  To end with an example, it would be a shame if I were to describe “Love” by praising It when my definition of “Love” is God, while my describee’s defintion of “Love” is some other god: Allah, Budah, or even Satan!

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