The Importance Of Love Madness In Plato's Phaedrus

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The current American lifestyle is arguably centered around what ancient Greek philosophers called the desires of the heart: ambition, power, and money, and the desires of the liver: sex, food, and alcohol. Plato, like most Ancient Greek philosophers, however, looked down upon giving into such desires because he believed doing so allowed irrationality to lead one’s life. Instead, Plato extoled a life led by reason, stemming from the brain. Plato exhibits his view through the voice of Socrates in Phaedrus by showing how love madness, usually thought to be a lack of reason led by the sexual desires of the liver, is a means of living a desirable life of philosophy, led by the reason-based desires of the brain. In telling the story of Democritus, …show more content…
Initially, Socrates expands upon Lysias’s argument that love madness is an evil force known as eros. He asserts that when a man is in love with a boy, he acts selfishly with him and is led by “unreasoning desire that overpowers . . . [the] impulse to do right and is driven to take pleasure in beauty” (18). In other words, a man in love is mad and harmful to the boy he pursues. Afterward, however, Socrates acknowledges that Love is a god and, as such, “cannot be bad in any way” (25) and that “the best things we have come from madness, when it is given as a gift from the god” (27). Thus, from this point on, Socrates argues only for the benefits of love …show more content…
If “desire takes command . . . and drags [a man] . . . without reason toward pleasure” (17) in regards to pursuing a boy, then reason does not guide the man, which means he cannot practice philosophy. A life without philosophy, in the eyes of Plato, would be inherently bad or at the very least, bad in the sense that it would be impossible to regain one’s wings and return to heaven; love, by Socrates’s new definition, cannot be related to such a bad, unphilosophical life because it is connected only to the good on earth. A man led predominantly by sexual desire, then, cannot truly be in love. Therefore, Socrates now requires true love---true love madness, that is---to be

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