“There is truth in wine and children”
― Plato

The process for using dialectical process describes that asking and answering questions stimulates thinking and draws out ideas to what was considered to be the nature of love.

Plato’s philosophy supported the idea of dualism, where there were two worlds, one physical and imperfect and the other one ideal, where everything was perfect and unchangeable. The way he saw those worlds referred to the way that was obtained knowledge through reasons, followed by the world of forms to reach the end goal of the ascendence represented by the good. That could be achieved by reaching a higher form of understanding, and for Plato, that was possible through four levels of knowledge, two in the lower realm and two in the higher.  

This journey of four divisions of knowledge started with the first level of understanding, the truth perceived through senses, as an imitation of beautiful entities through paintings, reflections, or shadows. The beginning of that ascendence came from an uncomfortable state and with confusion, as the changes came in fragments and needed time to adjust to a new reality. Plato states that “… when someone sees a soul disturbed and unable to see something, he won’t laugh mindlessly, but he’ll take into consideration whether it has come from a brighter life and is dimmed through not having yet become accustomed to the dark or whether it has come from greater ignorance into greater light and is dazzled by the increased brilliance.” (1)  

“Human behavior flows from three main sources: desire, emotion, and knowledge. ”
― Plato

Existing brought an understanding that bodies changed and decayed, and everything around us was just a reflection of our beliefs. Looking for new answers and finding ourselves wondering what was real and what was left after we died was the second level of understanding. In that stage, we were still not confident of our beliefs and accepted them as truth. If everything followed the same path as the imperfect body and dissipated, what was left could be coming from a perfect form, and the soul was the only one that could ascend as eternal and immutable. In that case and following the duality affirmation, meaning that the body separated from the soul, and the soul was the only one left to recollect the truth. It was our responsibility to become an individual that reflected the concept of beauty, and for that, we were responsible for our choices: “It is our duty to select the best and most dependable theory that human intelligence can supply and use it as a raft to ride the seas of life.” (2).  

Those choices made were going to lead to a form of understanding that ultimate achievement was possible only by going up and choosing the truth, the justice, and the beauty. From that step, we were achieving a third level of understanding when we tried to understand concepts through science and looked for a deeper meaning. Living a life guided by those concepts we were not only increasing our knowledge but becoming capable to recollect what was already known. Through questions and critical thinking not only we developed our learning and understanding, but we discovered the answers we always had in us, and we were not only bringing them to the surface but acknowledging them. When we were capable to discern between opinions and the truth, we were also able to differentiate the material world from the world of forms, where everything was perfect and eternal. That was not always easy to achieve as we were influenced by others, and their beliefs and concepts could put in our mind doubt and insecurities. As Socrates states: “But why, my dear Crito, should we care about the opinion of the many?” (3) 

“There are two things a person should never be angry at, what they can help, and what they cannot.”
― Plato

Our truth should come from thoughts and from rationalism, not from the deceived senses and the opinion of many. If we were wondering, how we know which one was the truth and how we could achieve our highest good, was probably useful to also consider if that good was approved by the gods. That meant it was approved by them and they were not the highest but subservient to the moral law or because was stated by the gods. But gods never could agree with each other, their moral duties were arbitrary and their good could be also murder, stealing, or torturing. That was mentioned in “The point which I should first wish to understand is whether the pious or holy is beloved by the gods because it is holy, or holy because it is beloved of the gods.” (4) 

In that case, morality was grounded in god’s name, in his character, as it was not outside of gods. We should consider that ideal form was placed in the realm of good, where the truth, the justice, and the beauty were above all, and in our ascendence, that should be our highest achievement. If the body was left as proof of our lives as Socrates asked Crito: “Be of good cheer, then, my dear Crito, and say that you are burying my body only” (2) it would matter for us to prepare and to follow what we would want to achieve, and for that. We should prepare for that moment following the concept of good before we could achieve the perfect form of it: “If it is pure when it leaves the body and drags nothing bodily with it, as it had no willing association with the body in life, but avoided it and gathered itself together by itself and always practiced this, which is no other than practicing philosophy in the right way, in fact, training to die easily. Or is this not training for death?” (2) 

In that ascension from a mortal human to an immortal soul, love would be the passage that would guide us through the journey, and after achieving the fourth level of understanding we could come to a form of true understanding. “According to Diotima, love is not a god at all but is rather a spirit that mediates between people and the objects of their desire. Love is neither wise nor beautiful but is rather the desire for wisdom and beauty.” (5) With love in our mind and with the good as the final destination, we should always act accordingly with what was missing for us until the time we could achieve it, and seek and look after the beauty because our lives desired good: “Love is of something, and that which love desires is not that which love is or has; for no man desires that which he is or has. And love is of the beautiful and therefore has not the beautiful. And the beautiful is good, and therefore, in wanting and desiring the beautiful, love also wants and desires the good.” (5) 

“People are like dirt. They can either nourish you and help you grow as a person or they can stunt your growth and make you wilt and die.”
― Plato

Symposium 

[1] 

“Socrates: In the magnificent oration which you have just uttered, I think that you were right, my dear Agathon, in proposing to speak of the nature of love first and afterward of his works-that is a way of beginning which I very much approve. And as you have spoken so eloquently of his nature, may I ask you further, whether love is the love of something or of nothing? And here I must explain myself: I do not want you to say that love is the love of a father or the love of a mother-that would be ridiculous; but to answer as you would, if I asked is a father a father of something? to which you would find no difficulty in replying, of a son or daughter: and the answer would be right. 

Agathon: Very true, said Agathon. 

Socrates: And you would say the same of a mother? 

Agathon: He assented. 

Socrates: Yet let me ask you one more question in order to illustrate my meaning: Is not a brother to be regarded essentially as a brother of something? 

Agathon: Certainly, he replied. 

Socrates: That is, of a brother or sister? 

Agathon: Yes, he said. 

Socrates: And now, said Socrates, I will ask about love:-Is love of something or of nothing? 

Agathon: Of something, surely, he replied. 

Socrates: Keep in mind what this is and tell me what I want to know-whether Love desires that of which love is. 

Agathon: Yes, surely. 

Socrates: And does he possess, or does he not possess, that which he loves and desires? 

Agathon: Probably not, I should say. 

Socrates: Nay, replied Socrates, I would have you consider whether “necessarily” is not rather the word. The inference that he who desires something is in want of something, and that he who desires nothing is in want of nothing, is in my judgment, Agathon absolutely and necessarily true. What do you think? 

Agathon: I agree with you, said Agathon. 

Socrates: Very good. Would he who is great, desire to be great, or he who is strong, desire to be strong? 

Agathon: That would be inconsistent with our previous admissions. 

Socrates: True. For he who is anything cannot want to be that which he is? 

Agathon: Very true. 

Socrates: And yet, added Socrates, if a man being strong desired to be strong, or being swift desired to be swift, or being healthy desired to be healthy, in that case he might be thought to desire something which he already has or is. I give the example in order that we may avoid misconception. For the possessors of these qualities, Agathon, must be supposed to have their respective advantages at the time, whether they choose or not; and who can desire that which he has? Therefore when a person says, I am well and wish to be well, or I am rich and wish to be rich, and I desire simply to have what I have-to him we shall reply: “You, my friend, having wealth and health and strength, want to have the continuance of them; for at this moment, whether you choose or no, you have them. And when you say, I desire that which I have and nothing else, is not your meaning that you want to have what you now have in the future? “He must agree with us-must he not? 

Agathon: He must, replied Agathon. 

Socrates: Then, said Socrates, he desires that what he has at present may be preserved to him in the future, which is equivalent to saying that he desires something which is non-existent to him, and which as yet he has not got. 

Agathon: Very true, he said. 

Socrates: Then he and every one who desires, desires that which he has not already, and which is future and not present, and which he has not, and is not, and of which he is in want;-these are the sort of things which love and desire seek? 

Agathon: Very true, he said. 

Socrates: Then now, said Socrates, let us recapitulate the argument. First, is not love of something, and of something too which is wanting to a man? 

Agathon: Yes, he replied. 

Socrates: Remember further what you said in your speech, or if you do not remember I will remind you: you said that the love of the beautiful set in order the empire of the gods, for that of deformed things there is no love-did you not say something of that kind? 

Agathon: Yes, said Agathon. 

Socrates: Yes, my friend, and the remark was a just one. And if this is true, Love is the love of beauty and not of deformity? 

Agathon: He assented. 

Socrates: And the admission has been already made that Love is of something which a man wants and has not? 

Agathon: True, he said. 

Socrates: Then Love wants and has not beauty? 

Agathon: Certainly, he replied. 

Socrates: And would you call that beautiful which wants and does not possess beauty? 

Agathon: Certainly not. 

Socrates: Then would you still say that love is beautiful? 

Agathon replied: I fear that I did not understand what I was saying. 

Socrates: You made a very good speech, Agathon, replied Socrates; but there is yet one small question which I would fain ask:-Is not the good also the beautiful? 

Agathon:Yes. 

Socrates:Then in wanting the beautiful, love wants also the good? 

Agathon: I cannot refute you, Socrates, said Agathon:-Let us assume that what you say is true. 

Socrates: Say rather, beloved Agathon, that you cannot refute the truth; for Socrates is easily refuted.” 

“Any man may easily do harm, but not every man can do good to another.”
― Plato

Apology 

[2] 

“Socrates: Come hither, Meletus, and let me ask a question of you. You think a great deal about the improvement of youth? 

Meletus: Yes, I do. 

Socrates: Tell the judges, then, who is their improver; for you must know, as you have taken the pains to discover their corrupter and are citing and accusing me before them. Speak, then, and tell the judges who their improver is. Observe, Meletus, that you are silent, and have nothing to say. But is not this rather disgraceful, and a very considerable proof of what I was saying, that you have no interest in the matter? Speak up, friend, and tell us who their improver is. 

Meletus: The laws. 

Socrates: But that, my good sir, is not my meaning. I want to know who the person is, who, in the first place, knows the laws. 

Meletus: The judges, Socrates, who are present in court. 

Socrates: What do you mean to say, Meletus, that they are able to instruct and improve youth? 

Meletus: Certainly, they are. 

Socrates: What, all of them, or some only and not others? 

Meletus: All of them. 

Socrates: By the goddess Here, that is good news! There are plenty of improvers, then. And what do you say of the audience, – do they improve them? 

Meletus: Yes, they do. 

Socrates: And the senators? 

Meletus: Yes, the senators improve them. 

Socrates: But perhaps the members of the citizen assembly corrupt them? – or do they too improve them? 

Meletus: They improve them. 

Socrates: Then every Athenian improves and elevates them; all apart from myself; and I alone am their corrupter? Is that what you affirm? 

Meletus: That is what I stoutly affirm. 

Socrates: I am very unfortunate if that is true. But suppose I ask you a question: Would you say that this also holds true in the case of horses? Does one man do them harm and all the world good? Is not the exact opposite of this true? One man can do them good, or at least few; – the trainer of horses, that is to say, does them good, and others who have to do with them rather injure them? Is not that true, Meletus, of horses, or any other animals? Yes, certainly. Whether you and Anytus say yes or no, that is no matter. Happy indeed would be the condition of youth if they had one corrupter only, and all the rest of the world were their improvers. And you, Meletus, have sufficiently shown that you never had a thought about the young: your carelessness is seen in your not caring about matters spoken of in this very indictment.” 

“Man is a being in search of meaning.”
― Plato

Sources: 

[1] 350 BC SYMPOSIUM by Plato translated by Benjamin Jowett http://classics.mit.edu/Plato/symposium.html 

[2] 399 BC APOLOGY by Plato translated by Benjamin Jowett http://classics.mit.edu/Plato/apology.html 

Endnotes:  

― Plato, The Republic (1) http://classics.mit.edu/Plato/republic.html 

― Plato, Phaedo (2) http://classics.mit.edu/Plato/phaedo.html 

― Plato, Crito (3) http://classics.mit.edu/Plato/crito.html 

― Plato, Euthyphro (4) http://classics.mit.edu/Plato/euthyfro.html 

― Plato, The Symposium (5) http://classics.mit.edu/Plato/symposium.html 

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