Trang Ho PHIL 225 Final Study Guide

Trang Ho PHIL 225 Final Study Guide - 1 Trang Ho Final Exam...

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Trang Ho Final Exam Study Guide McCann December 12, 2010 1. Compare and contrast Plato’s, St. Augustine’s, and Dante’s attitudes about the relation between the love of God and love for an individual human being. What are their different accounts of the relation between love and earthly or fleshly beauty? (Be sure to include in your discussion Dante’s treatment of these issues in La Vita Nuova as well as in Divine Comedy .) Plato, St. Augustine and Dante share similar views on love, that is, the love of a higher being other than an earthly being is the highest and truest form of love whereas love for an individual is the lowest and artificial form of love. These three thinkers all connect the concept of love to God or higher state of spirituality. Plato, through the words of Diotima in the Symposium , explains Love in a form of a “spirit, ” a being between God and a mortal. He thinks that the highest form of love lies in the love for wisdom. St. Augustine believes that the love for God is the highest form of love, proclaiming, “My love is my weight; by it I am carried wheresoever I am carried.” His spirit will be lifted up towards the heavens as he dedicates his love towards God, a perfect higher being. Dante, similarly, expresses that if he loves an individual as a reflection of God, his love becomes more pure and beautiful and powerful. In Dante’s epic poem the Divine Comedy, Dante’s object of affection Beatrice becomes more beautiful in Dante’s eyes, as she guides him through the higher Heavenly Spheres, moving closer to God. 1
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However, these influential thinkers differ in their approaches and representations of their views. Plato expresses his view on love through the personification of Love as a spirit, and the symbolism of the Love Ladder . According to Socrates, who has acquired his knowledge of love from his encounter with Diotima, Love is in a form of a spirit, son of Resource and Poverty, a cross between an immortal and a mortal. In contrary to common belief, Love himself is neither beautiful nor wise; he however is a lover of the beautiful and the wise. Another intriguing perspective offered by Plato in the story of the Symposium is the ascent of love, the love ladder system. The first and lowest steps of the ladder are love for one beautiful body (physical beauty) and then beautiful bodies. The second step is love for beautiful souls (mental beauty). The third step is love for the beauty of laws and orders. The forth step is love for the beauty of knowledge. The last and highest step of the ladder is love for Beauty itself in its perfect, pure and unchanging form: “it always is and neither comes to be nor passes away […] not beautiful this way and ugly that way, nor beautiful at one time and ugly another…” According to Plato, Socrates is a perfect example of a lover because he is neither beautiful nor (self-proclaimed) wise. As shown later in the story told by Alcibiades, Socrates is not at all concerned about the physical beauty or the sexual love. Despite Alcibiades’ various attempts to seduce Socrates, Socrates never reciprocated the
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Trang Ho PHIL 225 Final Study Guide - 1 Trang Ho Final Exam...

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