Aristophanes believes that two humans used to be combined as one, and we were separated by the Gods because they thought we had too much power together. He thinks the purpose of love is to seek out our other half and be with them. In his speech, however, he fails to think about whether or not our other half is good or bad. Diotima takes goodness into account. She says “…a lover does not seek the half or the whole, unless, my friend, it turns out to be good as well” (205E). Her speech is superior to Aristophanes’ because she states clearly that you are not supposed to love someone unless they are good. By good I mean having knowledge and wisdom.
Diotima’s speech is also superior to Phaedrus’ speech because his main point is that love will motivate people to not do shameful things in front of their lover. His argument does not address whether or not the love is actually good or bad between the beloved and the lover. By good I mean containing happiness. In his example, the individuals may not be happy at all. In fact, the feeling the lover gives the beloved is shame. Diotima expresses that the lover should be good and, “That’s what makes happy people happy, isn’t it – possessing good things” (205A). She holds happiness in higher regard than avoiding the feeling of shame. Phaedrus also does not say how the beloved should act when not in the presence of the lover. Diotima says that the purpose of love is not to feel shame when doing cowardice things in front of the lover, but instead, is to give “birth in beauty, whether in body or soul” (206B). When a person has a beautiful soul they will do good things whether they are in front of the...
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... a “soul that is beautiful and noble and well-formed” (209B). This means to be virtuous, and in most instances virtuous means having knowledge and having a beautiful soul. To actually ‘give birth’ to the ideas you have to sit with your lover and come up with them. Bounce thoughts off of each other. Then once you have a theory or new idea you spread your knowledge and teach others. Planting your knowledge into others is how you become immortal. Because even after you pass away your ideas will still exist, therefore, you exist. After giving birth to those ideas and loving a virtuous man who has educated you, you can move onto the next form of beauty. That is the Form of Beauty itself. So in short, our human function is to try and achieve the truest form of beauty by embracing wisdom and virtue. The result of reaching this true Form of Beauty is immortality.
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