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Philosophy and the emotions.

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Erica Stein Philosophy and the Emotions In Symposium, the great philosophers of Plato's time gather to begin their usual drinking, but due to their debauchery of the previous night, they decide to refrain and discuss a forgotten topic: love. The idea of symmetry in love relationships surfaces as a shared opinion. The love relationships between older teachers and younger students are always symmetrical because each party benefits from the other. The symmetry does not come from both partners' possessing the same qualities; rather it develops through a balance and/or exchange of the dissimilar qualities brought into the relationship by each participant. The two lovers benefit equally yet differently. In many of these balanced relationships, the couples in love often are opposites who bring different qualities to the table. The phrase "opposites attract" is a universal expression that applies to what Socrates points out as the key exchange in a love relationship. He describes this relationship as follows: "So such a man or anyone else who has a desire desires what is not at hand and not present, what he does not have, and what he is not, and that of which he is in need; for such are objects of desire and love." ...read more.


Aristophanes supports this belief in the following speech: "And I say there's just one way for the human race to flourish: we must bring love to its perfect conclusion, and each of us must win the favors of his very own young man, so that he can recover his original nature." (193, C) This "original nature" that Aristophanes is talking about is the young age that the older men can never regain. Socrates also mentions this idea in his previously-mentioned speech about our desire for things because we do not possess them. Socrates desires to be young again because he is in the later stages of his life. Only one type of person can satisfy the aging Socrates' yearning--a younger male. The younger male is the student in the relationship. His benefits from the relationship with an older male includes knowledge gained from his elder's experiences in life, guidance through the adolescent years, and sexual companionship. Alcibiades, Socrates' youthful lover, can acquire all of these benefits from his older mentor/lover because Socrates is a great philosopher who has experienced life to its fullest and a teacher who is willing to impart his wisdom to an adoring student. ...read more.


Eryximachus voices his opinion on symmetry in a relationship in section 187 D. He asserts that two lovers must contribute equally to achieve mutual benefits and to enable the development of love through the poetic exchange of qualities. Eryximachus presents this idea as follows: "Love does not occur in both his forms in this domain. But the moment you consider, in their turn, the effects of rhythm and harmony on their audience - either through composition, which creates new verses and melodies, or through musical education, which teaches the correct performance of existing compositions." (187, D) Eryximachus is describing the rhythm and harmony that Love creates between The two parties based on their understanding of Love and each other's needs. The relationship between the older teacher and the younger student is symmetrical because both of the parties gain from the relationship a quality that they lacked and needed. The balance between the two parties will remain symmetrical as long as each understands what the other needs. The teacher gains a younger companion who provides him physical pleasure and youthful vigor. The student gains intelligent experienced guidance. They don't exchange or share identical qualities; they simply make a mutually beneficial trade. ...read more.

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