DISCLAIMER: this is another essay i wrote back in 2016 in my Philosophy and culture: Philosophy of love class. it discuses the description for “love” between Schopenhauer and Plato’s Symposium.
When one thinks of a description for “love” thoughts of heart shaped boxes of chocolate, weddings, the feeling of having butterflies in your stomach and the child like giddiness may come to mind. But love for Schopenhauer and Plato, was not all about cute dates and pet names. Love for Schopenhauer was a much more animalistic need. For Schopenhauer love was not a magical heartwarming idea, it was bleak and filled with rejection and sadness. For Plato on the other hand, Love was in direct contact with beauty; Beauty of all things. Plato understanding and deconstruction of love is eternal and everlasting. Whether or not for Plato, that the need or want for a romantic relationship is there, as long as there is thought and consideration put into everyday use, the form of love can be found.
Schopenhauer says “Whenever we fall in love with someone, we do so because we unconsciously sense that they’ll help us to make healthy, well-balanced children.”(Schopenhauer on Love). Plato would agree. In Symposium When Socrates and Diotima Spoke of love Diotima, said that the reason that people fall in love is because “We instinctively desire to give birth but we find it possible only in an attractive medium” (Symposium 206c). Plato and Schopenhauer would agree with this, both parties think that the reason that two people would get together because subconsciously they believe that they would create the most desirable offspring. . Diotima determined it to be that “Mortal nature does all it can to achieve immortality and live forever. Its sole resource for this is the ability of reproduction constantly to replace the pat generation with a new one” (Symposium 207d). That there is an animalistic sense in all of us that causes us to be attracted to a certain kind of person, for their height, the size of their nose or their smile. These are the things that we feel attracted to because our subconscious has determined this to be the best match for us to create better and stronger offspring.
Plato’s Theory on love is a fairly simple one to understand. He asks what does love desire. Consciously Love desires goodness, beauty and happiness; unconsciously love desires Immorality, to reproduce: Mental reproduction equalling Virtue and Wisdom, and the psychical reproduction of children (Symposium 207 d & e). Plato’s theory of love also offers the idea of steps to in which one can truly understand beauty of love. The first step would be for one to focus on another’s individual’s physical beauty which would “give birth to beautiful reasoning” , step two would for one to regard all bodies as equally beautiful, The Third step would be for one to value mental beauty more than the physical , The fourth step would be for one to love spiritual and mental beauty, the fifth would be for one to look into many examples of beauty that would give birth to beautiful thinking and the sixth , the final stage would be for one to finally grasp the form of beauty the unchanging, metaphysical construct of beauty.(Symposium 210 b to d) . Plato thinks that we should looks beyond the realm of the physical to see beauty but to look into each other’s minds to ask questions to find answers. Plato would want us to disregard our physical form and focus on his realm of forms his never changing ideals and contemplate the meanings they hold and give to us and to find beauty in the things we cannot fully grasp in our hands but what we can believe with our minds.it is understood that Plato’s views on love do differ from those that are held today that the realm of forms may seem like a far more abstract concept than need be to explain love, which for most of us is already unexplainable.
In conclusion it would appear to be that both Schopenhauer and Plato shared a common belief on love. Both men believed that it had to do with the subconscious want to have viable and successful offspring that would carry your genetics down the family line; immortality in a sense. Though Plato did have a more complex and abstract way of thinking about the true meaning of love, delving into his realm of forms where the ideals and concepts of things exist in a perfect unchanging form in a realm, existing somewhere beyond the reaches of time and space. Through working our way up the six stages of the ladder of love one can analyse and work using critical thought can come to love the world for all its beauty whether or not a romantic relationship is needed or wanted to create happiness and bliss.