Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Plato and The Symposium

Thinking back on the semester over all the works we have read, the one that sticks out the most in my mind is The Symposium because of how well it exhibits the concept of the past possessing the present. I feel like I experience my own version of the symposium every single weekend. It never fails that near the end of every good friday or saturday night, there will inevitably be a deep conversation regarding the concept of love. Although these days, such discussions are more commonly referred to as "heart-to-hearts," the general concept is the same. People gather, they drink, they continue you to drink, and at some point, love makes its way to the surface. I find it funny how alcohol always seems to be a precursor to discussions of love, because it's the one concept that is almost universally desired by all beings. Plato must have known when he was writing the Symposium exactly how timeless his work would become. Based on the diologue contained within the play, I believe that Plato completely understood the power of love to transcend all other human emotions, making The Symposium as relevant today as when it was written. His understanding of love goes much deeper than the commonly held contemporary view of love being a one-dimensional feeling relating only to human relationships. Using the character Diotima, Plato beautifully describes exactly how complex love actually is:
"For he who would proceed rightly in this matter should begin in youth to turn to beautiful forms; and first, if his instructor guide him rightly, he should learn to love one such form only--out of that he should create fair thoughts; and soon he would himself perceive thatthe beauty of one form is truly related to the beauty of another; and then if beauty in general is his pursuit, how foolish would he be not to recognize that the beauty in every form is one and the same!"

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