The Beloved is a Profoundly Wonderful “Whatever”

Eidos | 10/18/2019 | Staff
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It is clear then that the essential object of love, or the Beloved, is “whatever.”

So said Professor Alfred Geier,* but if we pause and understand, then a life changing truth will result.

Plato - Symposium - Socrates - Poet - Agathon

In Plato’s Symposium, Socrates and the tragic poet Agathon are discussing “love.” What is love? Both realize that there exists a longing, a love, that cannot be satisfied by a human person, a City, or even ideas. We love something. Agathon and Socrates agree on this and if love comes, then (in all probability) love is of something. Something causes the desire that cannot be satisfied, is not sated, by any finite being.

We have eternity in our hearts. Agathon is sure his love is of something, a something Geier translates as “whatever.” The Beloved Uknown is there, has done this, and yet that is not the Beloved. The sign, the very icon of the Beloved, is not the Beloved. He is there until we look there and then the Beloved is gone.

Something - Plato - Beloved - Professor - Geier

What is that something that causes love? Who knows? We know we love, but for Plato this Beloved (so divine!) is known to exist, but unknown. Professor Geier concludes that this mystery (my term) allows all learning in humankind. We see a tentative truth, but always are (not quite) sure. We wonder and the wonder, the knowledge that not only may we be wrong (obviously), but that our picture of the Beloved is so limited that the picture might as well be false keeps us learning.

The Beloved is eternal, unchanging. We are neither of those things. We can know, but the Beloved cannot be exhausted. There is always more and this uncertainty, this “all may change” is the basis for learning. In another dialogue, Plato’s Phaedrus, Socrates faces a Phaedrus (his very name is “bright one”) that is...
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