Higher Love In The Symposium A

Love as a Higher Form
Love has always been a sensation that has both mystified and captured humanity. It is a unique emotion and, while it means something different to everybody, it remains to all a force that is, at its purest form, always one step above mankind. In love’s ability to exist differently from person to person, one can find love to be a conglomeration of different branches. It can be said that there are six such categories: Agape, a love which sets store on physical attraction in order to remain all-giving and intense; Eros, a love based on high passion; Storge, a love that is friendship-based and down to earth; Pragma, the searching for a partner to build a life with; Ludus, a love that is low on emotional feeling and high on sexual tendencies (often involving several partners); and Mania, a type of love that dwells on jealousy and possessiveness while creating an experience of great emotional highs and lows (Gayton v). Some branches of love are negative and unhealthy, while others remain positive and strong. One’s opinion of love in general is often based one which branches of love he or she has encountered. This can best be seen when analyzing Plato’s Symposium and Augustine’s Confessions; because their visions of love were of different branches, their opinions on the value of love differ greatly. Plato’s understanding of the concept of love leaned towards the branch of Eros, while Augustine’s love was more Ludus based.

In Saint Augustine’s pubescent age he resigned himself to the urgings of the flesh, as he speaks about in Book II of Confessions. All too quickly he plunged deeply into the pleasures of fornication, and nobody was able to save him from this early mistake for his parents were more focused on his education. These sexual escapades continued right through his late teenage years in Carthage where, while he was sophisticated, many of his friendships involved sex as an inner core. He took upon a mistress, not to love, but to enjoy sexual life with. His entire idea of “love” was, in fact, only a small branch of love. He had given into the concept of Ludus very heavily, for he’d had diverse partners and was wary of any emotional intensity with them. And although he grieved at fictitious characters that had found “true love” in the theatre or in books, he never set out to find such true love within his own life. Even when he had a child and settled down he found little passion or romance because, during the time in which he lived, such things were not necessarily associated with marriage. Marriage during his time period had the simple purpose of procreation and little more. Augustine had not been able to find a love that was emotional enough and, because love to him was so sexual, he rejected it as having any use other than procreation. He had only found the Ludus branch of love and, when looking back upon it much later in his lie, found it to be wasteful and nothing more than a distraction from the ways of the Lord.

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While Augustine saw love to be Ludus at its greatest, the men of the Symposium understood a great deal more about how love was not a distraction from the ways of higher beings, but a ladder to such higher power. The first true example of the dialogue’s main message can be seen in the speech of Aristophanes. Because Aristophanes’ speech is one that Socrates does not rip to shreds, he either agrees with it in some sense or simple does not take it seriously enough to debate. Being a comic playwright, Aristophanes constructs a fancy story about how all humans were once of two heads, four arms, four legs, and complete spirit until Zeus split them apart. Because of this, two beings which were once split apart wish to become one again. His message, while humorous, makes a valid statement that is very Agape-like: love is the taking of a state of incompleteness and becoming more complete through what two people can give each other. Socrates continues this thought in his speech when he


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