Platonic love: a guide to love in modern times

the platonic love is a concept widely used today when we want to refer to a romantic desire to stay with an unreachable person. However, the term has its origins in a very old philosophical theory that is difficult to cover with a single sentence.

Saving some of the key ideas of what love was for Plato can remind us of a very useful lesson.

What do we mean by platonic love today?

Plato was not egocentric enough to give his name to one of his contributions to philosophy. The term “platonic love” it was first invented by the Renaissance philosopher Marsilio Ficino, And it is very difficult that when we refer to this concept, we use it with the same precision with which Plato used it, because our context and our way of thinking is very different from what was usual in Athens there. a long time ago. over 2000 years.

however, this concept is commonly used to refer to an impossible love for different reasons. It can be reciprocal love, in which the person in love sees their attempts to approach someone frustrated, or it can also be used to refer to cases in which, by the time someone is won over, that person ceases to be with us. look perfect. , so that what attracted us to her in the beginning never materializes.

In any case, in order to learn to reflect on what we are going through when we fall into this kind of love, it is worth remembering some of the main aspects of what Platonic love really means.

Keys to Understanding Platonic Love

What exactly are we talking about when we talk about this kind of love? Through these four points, we will try to explain it.

1. Platonic love is “true love”

For Plato, the types of love that are based on the pleasures that our senses give us are rather mundane forms of affection. Platonic love is the purest form of love because it is not based on an exchange of physical or material qualities. It’s also because in addition to being selfless, he never lets us access what we love.

Learn more about the different ways humans express this feeling:

  • “Types of love: what are the different types of love?”

2. Platonic love never comes

According to the concept of Platonic love, beauty has divine essence, And therefore can never be performed by human beings. So how does Plato speak of love in such positive and optimistic terms? The answer is that, for the philosopher, love pushes us to improve ourselves to be closer to the long-awaited beauty, And that’s a good thing in itself.

In short, the existence of what we know today as Platonic love means that there is something in us that can lead us towards self-perfection. There is a paradox: we are struggling to get closer to something that is by definition inaccessible and infinitely far from us.

For Plato, asking questions about the nature of things through philosophy this is a clear example of what it means to seek out unapproachable beauty. The wise are also those who, like Socrates, seek knowledge while accepting their own ignorance. In this harmony is the ennobling of the soul and the virtue of which Plato speaks.

3. Platonic love is universal

Platonic love is not about attracting a specific person whom we have idealized. It is rather, a force that seeks us to find the essence of beauty in its different expressions. What matters is the deification of beauty and goodness, concepts which for Plato are intimately linked. For this philosopher, we do not fall in love with people, but with the beauty cracks that we can find in them.

This explains why, paradoxically, beauty is inaccessible but also omnipresent. Plato believed that the world we experience through the senses expresses two realities: a matter, in which is found everything that is perceived directly through the senses, and another ideal, in which lies the essence of beauty. This explains why we can find the essence of beauty in all places and people imaginable, depending on the degree to which our virtue allows us to glimpse the ideal world in the materiality around us.

Therefore, if we obey what platonic love is, to believe that a person is perfect is indeed to find in him forms of expression of a beauty which does not belong to him directly and which is not in him exclusively. Whenever we see perfection in something or in someone, we see the same thing.

4. It is expressed intellectually

Platonic love is a type of love which, for the Greek philosopher, manifests itself in a way that is not exclusively physical, because it refers to an object of desire which is beyond what is material. It is not limited to an ethical standard of behavior on how to treat the loved one, but concerns the very conception of what beauty is for Plato. Beauty is inseparable from what is good and what is genuine, and the genuine can only be recognized through the intellect..

Likewise, the beauty that we find in a body is in fact a beauty that belongs to the spiritual plane. For Plato, someone who experiences this kind of love aspires to spiritually access his object of desire.

Guide to love in modern times

In virtually all cases where we are talking about platonic love, there is one factor to keep in mind: the idealization. For Plato, love is in a balance between what is known and what is ignored, and this rule can also apply to our relationship with people. This is due to the fact, when we idealize a person we perceive them to be practically perfect precisely because we do not know them well enough as if to see that it is not.

Now, if the essence of what is beautiful is inaccessible, concrete people are not so. Impossible love can cease to be so when, for one reason or another, there comes a time when we can “conquer” that person … and this allows us to get to know them better. A question then arises: Is such an impossible love the end of Platonic love?

Idealize … or live love despite its bad things

Actually no. For Plato, the attraction we feel for a person always goes beyond the physical, and therefore to spend more time with him and discovering its different facets does not necessarily mean that we “domesticate” the essence of beauty that we find in this. There will be something about this person that will remain unreachable, although we will not know why, because we still do not understand and intellectually conquer what attracts us.

But this type of lingering idealization is not the most common these days.

Is it your platonic love or just someone you can’t reach?

Beyond what Platonic love meant in ancient Greece, idealizing someone is generally ignoring that person and not because of their ability to continue to maintain attractiveness no matter what. but because of our difficulties to connect to it, Either because we only recently met her, or because she only lets us see one of her facets.

The latter is evident, for example, in the fanboy or fangirl phenomenon which has given birth to world famous people. Celebrities have behind them such massive marketing machines and image consultants so effective that we only know the most gracious and admirable part of them. To a lesser extent, The same goes for people who, although they attract us by their appearance, never manage to connect with us.

Interestingly, it is the aesthetics and the material, which was less important to Plato, that leads us to idealize our neighbor: almost never an intellectual approach. It might be helpful if we reflected on this fact more often.

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