Lavinia Trifoi (500793469)
CPHL 606 – Midterm Exam
Show the differences between Diotima's ladder of love in Plato's Symposium and
Aristotle's theory of philia. Compare the process or style of thinking of each
thinker, what this suggests about how we can understand the world, which theory
you think is more accurate and why (give reasons, analogies, examples etc).
Through the voice of Diatima, Socrates offers a deeper understanding of beauty, love and the
concept of “
through the use of the ladder of love. This metaphorical ladder outlines the
spiritual, physical and conceptual aspects of beauty. Diatima’s ladder of love consists of six
steps, beauty in a body, beauty in all bodies, beauty in a soul, beauty of customs and practices,
beauty of knowledge and beauty itself.
In contrast, Aristotle’s highest form of love, “
focuses on relationships with others
and appreciation of these connections. This concept is present in all relationships, not only in
romantic ones. Aristotle’s
can be expressed as utility, pleasure and virtue. This virtue
form, Aristotle states, is rare and it can only be reached if both people in the relationship are
equally as morally developed. Aristotle also encourage the concept of self-love as the highest
form, as without it, any other form is not possible. This contradicts Diatima’s concept of the of
love, as self-love would not transcend past the first step. For Plato love is a higher value and is
not characterized by any physical desire. In contrast, Aristotle states love is in the relationships
we form with others.
In his thinking, Plato utilizes the theory of Forms. Plato believes in the existence of one real
version of all things and when our senses are used, we experience an imitation of this real
version. He warns us against trusting everything we see, as we use our senses to examine them.
This real versions or Forms are not to be examined with our sense but with our minds. It is only
through critical thinking that we can see the different versions or forms and gain knowledge.
Furthermore, Plato believed that core knowledge does not change, it is only the forms of the real
version that change. Any knowledge on these different forms deteriorates and is everchanging.
Aristotle’s thinking contradicted Plato’s idea of Forms. Aristotle’s focus is on the knowledge
acquired through the act of observing and the purpose of all things. He introduces the idea that
all things have a purpose and an obligation to fulfil that purpose. Aristotle contradicts his
teacher, Plato, stating that forms are essential parts of an object and can’t be isolated from them.
Therefore, it is crucial to study all forms of the object to gain valuable knowledge. This idea, I
believe holds true.