Two Types of Love in Plato's Symposium

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Two Types of Love in Plato's Symposium

I have always thought that there was only one type of love, which was that feeling of overwhelming liking to someone else. I am aware that Lust does exist and that it is separate from Love, being that the desire for someone's body rather their mind. In Plato's Symposium, Plato speaks of many different types of love, loves that can be taken as lust as well. He writes about seven different points of view on love coming from the speakers that attend the symposium in honor of Agathon. Although all these men bring up excellent points on their definitions on love, it is a woman that makes the best definition be known. I will concentrate on the difference between the theory of Common and Heavenly love brought up by Pausanias and the important role that Diotima plays in the symposium.

Pausanias brings up an excellent way to think about Love. He explains that love can be broken down into two types, that of Common and Heavenly love. The common love is that when a man and a woman join merely to satisfy their sexual desires. On the other hand the heavenly love is the type that occurs when two people are attracted to each other with a strong force that goes past the physical appearance but comes from deep within as if from the soul. Although Plato presents examples of the two loves with having the common love as if only happening between a man and a woman and the heavenly love happening between a man and a man, there is not enough proof in the text to say that this if what the whole of Athens really believed.

Lust or the common love was looked upon in the symposium as vulgar and immoral. This was the type of love was filthy with sin "since all they care about is completing the sexual act."(p.466, 181 b) This is because it comes from a strong sexual attraction that is produced from only desiring the physical body rather the soul. This common love was thought to come from the younger Aphrodite born from Zeus and one of his many mistresses.
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