Everyone the “ladder” as a way to show

Everyone has different values and ways of thinking when it comes to love. In the 1960’s C.S. Lewis dictates his Christian perspective on love through his publishing of The Four Loves. In contrast to his take on love through the lense of Christianity, in the philosophical text, Plato’s Symposium, Socrates describes the ascent of beauty through his differing point of view in the idea called The Ladder of Love dated back to 385–370 BC. C.S. Lewis was a British novelist, Christian apologist, and lay theologian, who famously wrote about the nature of love, fitting it into four broad sections. Plato was a philosopher, a student to Socrates, and a teacher to Aristotle, who wrote many widely read and studied texts on philosophy. Plato was mostly influenced by Socrates and many of his accounts are about him and what he has taught him; assuming Plato also agrees with the ideas of Socrates, he builds on them further. In The Symposium Plato, similarly, writes about love, however, the philosopher Socrates gives an account on Diotima’s, a priestess,’ teachings, which displays love as erotic all throughout. He introduces the metaphor of the “ladder” as a way to show how the lover is moving up until he reaches contemplation of the Forms and understands true beauty. These two contrasting texts seem to, most significantly, have terminological differences in the way that they make the distinction between philia, friendship, and eros, romantic love. To Plato, philia and eros are almost synonymous, yet Lewis purposefully splits them up into two different categories, showing their differentiating definitions. Plato’s The Ladder of Love and C.S. Lewis’ The Four Loves displays a contrast between what it means to love; these phenomenona instantly makes us ask ourselves, whose definition eros and philia are most accurate.Plato’s “ladder” represents the climbing that a lover makes, starting from purely physical attraction, eros, to a beautiful mind. In his view, one goes from the lowest level of the ladder to be able to reach the contemplation of the Form of Beauty itself. It all starts with the idea where love is defined as the desire for something you do not have, making you provoked by the sight of the individual beautiful body. Later you move away from the passion of one singular body and come to realize that all bodies are beautiful, thus sharing the same in common. Then you put the importance of the mind over the one of the body. What is most essential is therefore perceived to be all that has to do with the spiritual and moral beauty, more so than the physical. Next, you see beauty in the institutions and the laws, since they are created by beautiful people and promote good morals. This moves you to the second to last step where you understandably see beauty in all kinds of knowledge, particularly philosophical comprehension. And finally, you reach the Form of Beauty, which is when you realize that “the strong attachment to a beautiful soul accompanied by an ugly body is more fulfilling than the attachment to a beautiful body accompanied by an ugly soul” (Symposium 144). When Plato says this he means that what is on the exterior isn’t necessarily what one should be looking for or deeming important. Therefore the most critical aspect is what a being holds within, meaning their “soul” and whether they are knowledgeable enough to want to contemplate the forms. Once you reach this phase, you have climbed the ladder, and have gained knowledge and virtue. In the end, in The Ladder of Love, Plato describes how the beauty of the mind is superior to the one of the body, putting lust at the bottom and morality at the top.C.S. Lewis has a different idea of love to which he puts into four categories. He sums up the four kinds of love as storge, philia, eros, and agape. Storge is described as affection, which more precisely means liking someone through the affection of familiarity and family members. It is explained to be the “least discriminating of loves,” an example being the natural love that a parent has for their child (Lewis 23). Philia is the love between friends who are as close as siblings in “strength and duration.” This friendship exists between people who share common values, interests or activities. Lewis describes friendship as “the least biological, organic, instinctive, gregarious and necessary… the least natural of loves” (40). In this way, Lewis makes the distinction between friendship love when comparing it to the other ones, claiming that we don’t need friendship in order to reproduce, but since it is freely chosen it is also a “higher-level” love—Lewis makes it clear that this category is nonessential when he says, “both the individual and the community can survive without it” (43). Eros is romantic love, this one is the sense of “being in love” or “loving” someone, as opposed to the raw sexuality of what he called “Venus” (63). In Lewis’ book, he uses the distinction between wanting a woman and wanting one particular woman, something he found to be rational. Lastly, he mentions agape, which is a divine love. Lewis believes that agape is the love that exists regardless of changing circumstances and recognizes this one as the greatest of the four loves. He sees it as a specifically Christian virtue to achieve and deems “The natural loves as not being self-sufficient” to the love of God, who is full of charitable love—this, therefore, makes agape, according to C.S. Lewis, the highest and most unselfish of loves (80).Throughout both texts, we can see clear similarities between their views, for example, one instance being when we compare storge to Plato’s views. He believes that humans have a passionate attachment to one’s own, which we wouldn’t have without familiarity. In this sense, Lewis and Plato seem to agree with the matter of storge, however, it is a different kind of love to how one loves their boyfriend or girlfriend. Storge can be more described as a strong affection rather than love. When Lewis goes into detail about the idea of storge, he deems it “subhuman,” not making it a main love. With that being said, we can conclude that storge does not necessarily fall into the category of love, rather one of strong affection towards another. This makes both of their arguments similar, in the sense that this feeling of passionate affection exists, but it isn’t the most important. Disregarding and putting aside the similarities, we can deduce that the strongest comparison between the two is their terminological differences when they define philia and eros. Plato believed that through The Ladder of Love, eros progresses and is brought to the higher contemplation of the good. His definition does not have to do with beauty but the desire for it—eros is an emptiness that wants to be filled. This, however, moves him away from the common understanding of eros, with his belief being a desire to contemplate the forms and no longer wanting to possess the body. C.S. Lewis, on the other hand, sees eros as a romantic passion, not just having to do with sex, but still pertaining to it. He describes it as a romantic feeling that sees pleasure as a factor and makes a man love one particular woman. Plato starts with this phenomenon at the beginning of “the ladder,” similarly to Lewis, where he sees eros as the love for one body. As the lover climbs up to the next stage to be able to contemplate the Forms, his definition of eros develops, however, it is still being interpreted as eros in his eyes. This ultimately makes ourselves question whether it is the eros that is evolving or if it is, in reality, altering itself into a different concept of love. As Lewis and Plato’s views on the two do not correspond to each other, it must be determined whose definition of eros and philia is most accurate.In 1882 Friedrich Nietzsche, a well known German philosopher published a book called The Gay Science, where he compares friendship and erotic love. Nietzsche describes philia as a shared desire for something “higher” and eros as being “a craving for new property.” What he means by that craving is that the “lover wants … sole possession of the longed-for person, wanting a power over her soul, and her body …” (Nietzsche 40). What Nietzsche is trying to say is that he deems eros as not having control over one’s passions, making one lusting over them, while philia is more about modesty and the importance of having a bond with another being. In this text, Nietzsche makes this distinction between the two different kinds of love and attempts at proving Plato wrong, by deeming his view on eros as a progression into philia.It can be deduced that C.S. Lewis sees the embodiment of love as including philia, however, Plato’s whole ladder seems to just be a climb towards reaching a developing eros. In this way, when we analyze the ladder we can depict that Plato starts with eros and then this love becomes one that is purely philosophical friendship where two people can contemplate the forms together and talk about their wisdom between one another. Plato’s view on love, therefore, corresponds to Lewis’ view on friendship being a higher-love, since you are friends with someone for their mind and how similar they are to you. However, since Plato does not define this kind of love as philia, and continues to see it as eros, but just a more developed form, it can be presumed that his definition for eros is inaccurate and only pertaining to Plato. Nietzsche offers us a quote from his book, explaining that what Plato is explaining to be eros, in the end, is actually him defining philia.”Here and there on earth we may encounter a kind of continuation of love in which this possessive craving of two people for each other gives way to a new desire and lust for possession—a shared higher thirst for an ideal above them, But who knows such love? Who has experienced it? Its right name is friendship” (Nietzsche).It is made clear that what Plato writes about eros is incorrect, deeming philia as its “right name.” Therefore a correct way to view Plato’s Ladder of Love is to define it as the lover climbing from eros to philia, reaching the friendship form of love where he deems the soul and conversion as what is most essential. In conclusion, after questioning whether it is right to say that Plato’s definition of love is erotic, one can realize that Lewis makes a stronger argument, backed up by Nietzsche, on eros’ true and rightful definition. In this instance, if both perspectives have different terminologies, we have to conjecture that Plato’s is the least valid of the two as he adds contrasting characteristics to his definition on one single category: eros. In Plato’s The Ladder of Love and C.S. Lewis’ The Four Loves, while both authors unveil the contrasting differences between what it means to love, they reach for problematic concerning terminology. Philia and eros are two separate types of love, however, when Plato makes them almost synonyms that confuses its literal meaning. In the end, it is deductible that what Plato is defining as eros is truly a development of eros into philia, deeming Lewis as having the most accurate definition.