Diotima's Ladder - From Lust to Morality

Just about everyone has some idea about what platonic love is: a spiritual form of love in which what one loves is the essential nature and moral character of another human being qua person, irrespective of such accidental features as physical attractiveness, wealth, skin complexion, youth, body type or even sex or gender.

In Plato's famous dialogue Symposium, Socrates claims that one of the deepest lesson he ever learned on the nature of love he learned from the wise Diotima, who argued that our infatuation with physical beauty, if approached properly, could represent the first step in a process that could lead to some of the most important revelations about the relationship between the beautiful, the good and the true.

I highly recommend you read the Symposium, but just to whet your appetite about this theme, here's a little animated introduction to some of these ideas, thanks to a great and recent collaboration between the BBC and the Open University.



Now, in the Symposium there are various memorable speeches about love, quite heavy on symbolism sometimes, and some of which presuppose some previous understanding and familiarity with Plato's theory of the Forms. If you want a nice, thoughtful introduction to many of those ideas, and to how they all fit in with Plato's larger metaphysical account, the following interview from Entitled Opinions, should be pure intellectual delight:



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