• Sameer
    3
    On the book, which I have been reading which is called philosophy for teens. It says that according Plato "love is rational because it is always directed toward true beauty.True beauty is not something your see or feel. Rather, you come to know it exists by doing philosophy -- that is, by thinking about it".

    I always thought true beauty is something you must feel, see and hear. Like music or a painting.

    How would I know a girl in my class to whom I am really attracted to is beautiful, if I dont have any feeling toward her. Is Plato here suggesting that I can still change my mind by doing philosophy - that is , by thinking about it.

    Basically, I am trying to understand what he means by love is rational because it is beautiful and you can know something is truly beautiful or not by thinking about it, but not by feeling or seeing.
  • Terrapin Station
    12.4k
    One of the most important things to learn when doing philosophy (or anything, really), is that something isn't correct just because someone (including someone important/famous/respected/etc.) said it.
  • Pattern-chaser
    1.8k
    I think you should consider the possibility that Plato was mistaken, and would've done better if he'd talked to you first? :up:
  • Sameer
    3
    I agree. However, suppose I am asked to convince bunch of people that Plato was correct in saying that Form of Beauty is reflected in all beautiful things. What could be few examples.

    I am trying to understand thinking behind Plato's reasoning.
  • Terrapin Station
    12.4k
    To convince me of this, we'd need an argument for it, and because of what it's claiming, the argument would have to appeal to empirical evidence as well.

    "Examples" wouldn't cut it.

    It's a notion that I believe is seriously in error. Beauty is a subjective assessment that individuals make about things. It has no objective correlate.
  • Pattern-chaser
    1.8k
    I am trying to understand thinking behind Plato's reasoning.Sameer

    Then I think you should consider the possibility that Plato was one of those poor unfortunates that think beauty is an objective attribute that inheres in every object*. Myself, I favour the notion that beauty is in the eye of the beholder, as @Terrapin Station says.

    * - This is speculation on my part. Does anyone understand this stuff well enough to say whether Plato is an advocate of objective beauty?
  • Sameer
    3
    I believe, Plato was advocating for objective view of beauty.

    Say, this girl I am madly in love with. Suppose if she is to start gaining weight or fall ill and lose her appeal.

    Would I continue to love her? When I think deeply about it. Truth is, I find her beautiful because how see looks to me now.

    However, when I start imagining, her gaining 20-30lb. I find myself asking, she is cute, but she is short and on curvy side. The thought itself frightening.

    According to Plato, if I really, deeply love her. My love should not change with time. Because I find her beautiful not based on my feeling or how she appeals to me now.

    He is saying that I should find her beautiful based on reasoning rather feel or look.

    isn't that what we all want from someone we love. To love us for who we are.
  • alcontali
    474
    you can know something is truly beautiful or not by thinking about it, but not by feeling or seeing.Sameer

    How it works for me, is like this. In my professional life, I quite often have had to deal with other people's code, especially, when I was contracting. If other people's code looks beautiful, it is probably correct. If it looks like shit, it is probably full of bugs.

    For example, I remember having had to deal with the SMF forum software. After looking at the code for 10 seconds, I knew that the thing had to be full of issues. Why? Because the code looks like shit.

    Example of one of the monsters sitting in that source tree:

    https://github.com/SimpleMachines/SMF2.1/blob/release-2.1/Sources/Load.php

    It is almost a manual for how-not-to-do-it. It is truly hideous.

    The client had made the choice to use SMF long ago. It was obviously not possible to reverse that choice on the fly. They were having lots of trouble with the product, and so, they asked me to look into it, on a contract basis. I did. I marginally fixed a few things and then moved on, because I hate working on things while covered in excrement.

    So what is beauty?

    It is often an instinctive summary of the fact that everything probably works fine.

    It is the same with a beautiful girl.

    You don't need to double check if her liver works properly, if her heart rhythm is healthy, if her bones are firm enough. Seriously, no need for that. If she looks beautiful, her body inevitably satisfies the myriad of hidden rules and regulations that govern its functionality.

    There are undoubtedly lots and lots of mathematical equations that impose their rules onto how things should be in a female body -- we mostly do not even know what they are -- and her body and face satisfies them all. That is why she looks so good.

    In my opinion, you do not need to think about beauty. On the contrary, your sense of beauty rather spares you of having to think.

    It is the same in mathematics. When a proof looks beautiful, it is also much more likely to be correct. If on the contrary, it is full of ugly hacks, then no, then there must be a problem somewhere. Just keep looking for where the problem really is, and you will surely uncover it.
  • AJJ
    621


    I haven’t read any Plato directly, but here’s something from a book I have on Plotinus (a neoplatonist):

    Plato also analyses the reaction of the soul to the presence of beauty, in particular the reaction of the lover to the beauty of his love. He sees this reaction as a recollection of the Form of beauty seen by the soul of the lover in a previous existence. Through their participation in the Form of beauty, beautiful objects remind us of our former blissful vision of the higher world of forms.

    From what I understand the soul is diverted from its natural end by matter, which is evil by nature. So by learning what the natural end for the soul is you can give it its proper orientation, allowing it to recognise beauty where before, being off-track, it wouldn’t have.
  • T Clark
    4.1k
    On the book, which I have been reading which is called philosophy for teens. It says that according Plato "love is rational because it is always directed toward true beauty.True beauty is not something your see or feel. Rather, you come to know it exists by doing philosophy -- that is, by thinking about it".Sameer

    One thing you should definitely do is go directly to the source and not depend on what someone else says Plato said. When I go to an original source on anything, I'm almost always surprised by what I find. Check out the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, it should steer toward some good sources.
  • Noah Te Stroete
    2.1k
    Basically, I am trying to understand what he means by love is rational because it is beautiful and you can know something is truly beautiful or not by thinking about it, but not by feeling or seeing.Sameer

    Well, without reading the progression of this thread, I will give my opinion. Beauty is driven by feeling, but the concept of beauty must be rationally arrived at through thinking. For Plato, that concept adheres to the Form of Beauty, in the Platonic realm of Forms, something rational thought refers to.
  • Fooloso4
    995
    I would caution against assuming Plato is wrong without first understanding him. The term translated as beautiful is kalos, which also means good or noble. It is the good or noble that is to be desired or loved, but what is worthy of love cannot be determined simply by its being desired. The beauty of the body leads Socrates to reflect on beauty itself, the power of beauty to lead us to desire what we find beautiful. It has the power both to lead us toward and away from what is good and noble.
  • BrianW
    871
    Basically, I am trying to understand what he means by love is rational because it is beautiful and you can know something is truly beautiful or not by thinking about it, but not by feeling or seeing.Sameer

    Imo I think Plato is trying to say that love is not a means of gratification of our sensual nature and that true beauty can only be realised when we apply rationale, i.e., true beauty is that which satisfies every aspect of our being-ness, not just particular functions of it. In other words, true beauty is beyond physical form (which is to be seen) and beyond mere feelings (which we seek to gratify through indulging our desires). So, by applying philosophy, one realises that beauty is an expression of the greater life manifesting through people and therefore to appreciate its value means understanding its provenance and responding accordingly.
  • T Clark
    4.1k


    This just came to mind. It was probably my favorite thread in all the time I've been on the forum - Beautiful Things. Even tough I started it, I found the contributions others made moving and inspiring. Thought provoking.

    https://thephilosophyforum.com/discussion/2678/beautiful-things/p1
  • Terrapin Station
    12.4k
    true beauty is that which satisfies every aspect of our being-ness,BrianW

    Now there's a phrase that'll make one's eyes roll back in one's head.
  • Wayfarer
    8.2k
    Basically, I am trying to understand what he means by love is rational because it is beautiful and you can know something is truly beautiful or not by thinking about it, but not by feeling or seeing.Sameer

    Mathematicians will sometimes speak of 'beautiful' equations. There are principles in geometry, maths and science which explain all kinds of things in a few lines of symbolic representation. There was a sign over the portal of Plato's Academy which said 'let no-one ignorant of geometry enter'. Principles of symmetry and balance, the aesthetics of form - those are the kinds of things Plato has in mind. So when Plato says 'thinking' he doesn't mean just idly daydreaming or ordinary thinking, but a kind of insight that penetrates into the causes and real nature of things.

    if happiness consists in activity in accordance with virtue, it is reasonable that it should be activity in accordance with the highest virtue; and this will be the virtue of the best part of us. Whether, then, this be the Intellect [νοῦς], or whatever else it be that is thought to rule and lead us by nature, and to have cognizance of what is noble and divine, either as being itself also actually divine, or as being relatively the divinest part of us, it is the activity of this part of us in accordance with the virtue proper to it that will constitute perfect happiness; and it has been stated already that this activity is the activity of contemplation. — Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics
  • Janus
    8.1k
    It says that according Plato "love is rational because it is always directed toward true beauty.True beauty is not something your see or feel. Rather, you come to know it exists by doing philosophy -- that is, by thinking about it".Sameer

    I am no Plato scholar, although I am moderately familiar with his central ideas. So, I think for Plato beauty is a species of the Good. Nothing but the Good is worthy of love proper, which is rational love.

    Plato distinguishes between different kinds of love in The Symposium, if memory serves. The kinds I can remember offhand are eros, philia and agape. Did Plato think all of those were rational? I'm not sure.
  • alcontali
    474
    Mathematicians will sometimes speak of 'beautiful' equations.Wayfarer

    A beautiful object tends to acts like a Schelling point. When you are in the middle of nowhere, and you don't particularly know where you are going either, just like when you are halfway a proof, you may need to make the decision to go left, right, or ahead.

    Picking the most beautiful alternative often works really well.

    In the process of discovering of new knowledge, intuition is much more important than existing knowledge. You can certainly rationalize after the facts, but while you are still looking for a solution, rationality does not help particularly much. A developed sense for beauty tends to be much more effective.

    In my opinion, purely rational people do not discover anything new. As far as I am concerned, a sense for beauty is another mental faculty, entirely independent from rationality.
  • StreetlightX
    4.1k
    If possible OP, you should try and check out Girogio Agamben's recently published Taste on this subject:

    "The relationship between truth and beauty is the centre of the Platonic theory of Ideas. [For Plato], beauty cannot be known and truth cannot be seen—yet it is this very intertwining of a double impossibility that defines the Idea and the authentic salvation of appearances in Eros’ ‘other knowledge’. In fact, the significance of the term ‘Idea’ (with its implicit etymological reference to an e-vidence, to an idein) is entirely contained in the play (in the unity-difference) between truth and beauty. Thus it is that, in the dialogues on love, every time one appears to be able to grasp beauty, there is a return to the invisible; every time that one appears to be able to close in on the consistency of the truth through episteme, there is a return to the vocabulary of vision, seeing and appearing.

    Only because the supreme act of knowledge is split in this manner into truth and beauty (‘wisdom is knowledge of the most beautiful’ and the beautiful is ‘that which is most apparent’, but science is ‘science of the invisible’), wisdom must be constituted as ‘love of knowledge’ or the ‘knowledge of love’ and, beyond any sensible knowledge as much as episteme, must present itself as philosophy."
  • BrianW
    871
    ON BEAUTY

    AND a poet said, Speak to us of Beauty.
    And he answered:
    Where shall you seek beauty, and how shall you find her unless she herself be your way and your guide?
    And how shall you speak of her except she be the weaver of your speech?
    The aggrieved and the injured say, "Beauty is kind and gentle. Like a young mother half–shy of her own glory she walks among us."
    And the passionate say, "Nay, beauty is a thing of might and dread. Like the tempest she shakes the earth beneath us and the sky above us."
    The tired and the weary say, "Beauty is of soft whisperings. She speaks in our spirit. Her voice yields to our silences like a faint light that quivers in fear of the shadow."
    But the restless say, "We have heard her shouting among the mountains. And with her cries came the sound of hoofs, and the beating of wings and the roaring of lions."
    At night the watchmen of the city say, "Beauty shall rise with the dawn from the east."
    And at noontide the toilers and the wayfarers say, "We have seen her leaning over the earth from the windows of the sunset."
    In winter say the snow–bound, "She shall come with the spring leaping upon the hills."
    And in the summer heat the reapers say, "We have seen her dancing with the autumn leaves, and we saw a drift of snow in her hair."
    All these things have you said of beauty, Yet in truth you spoke not of her but of needs unsatisfied, And beauty is not a need but an ecstasy.
    It is not a mouth thirsting nor an empty hand stretched forth, But rather a heart inflamed and a soul enchanted.
    It is not the image you would see nor the song you would hear, But rather an image you see though you close your eyes and a song you hear though you shut your ears.
    It is not the sap within the furrowed bark, nor a wing attached to a claw, But rather a garden for ever in bloom and a flock of angels for ever in flight.
    People of Orphalese, beauty is life when life unveils her holy face. But you are life and you are the veil.
    Beauty is eternity gazing at itself in a mirror. But you are eternity and you are the mirror.
    — Kahlil Gibran (From 'The Prophet')
  • Wayfarer
    8.2k
    Ideas are what things want to be when they grow up. :wink:
  • TheMadFool
    3.8k
    On the book, which I have been reading which is called philosophy for teens. It says that according Plato "love is rational because it is always directed toward true beauty.True beauty is not something your see or feel. Rather, you come to know it exists by doing philosophy -- that is, by thinking about it".

    I always thought true beauty is something you must feel, see and hear. Like music or a painting.

    How would I know a girl in my class to whom I am really attracted to is beautiful, if I dont have any feeling toward her. Is Plato here suggesting that I can still change my mind by doing philosophy - that is , by thinking about it.

    Basically, I am trying to understand what he means by love is rational because it is beautiful and you can know something is truly beautiful or not by thinking about it, but not by feeling or seeing.
    Sameer

    I don't know much but here's what I think...

    The mind is one of the least understood things in the world. So, confusion is inevitable.

    The division between rationality and emotion, the former being taken as good and the latter as an impediment, in the logical tradition is unfortunate. Biases and reasoning errors are attributed to emotion. There are reasons for this you know. When we are emotionally aroused, rational though becomes difficult. The interesting thing to note is that yes, rational thinking becomes difficult but not nonexistent. Just listening to your next door neighbor quarreling with his wife will tell you that. Don't they respond wittily? Isn't that a sign of enhanced ratiocination rather than stupidity? I don't question the accepted wisdom that emotions are bad for logical thinking but I just think that it's not entirely true.

    So, with this small sliver of a chance I'd like to say that emotions may have within them a logic that our consciousness fails to become aware of. By that I mean that when you feel an emotion when you look at a beautiful woman there IS rationality to it. It's just that you aren't aware of it. This is what Plato means when he says "love is rational because it is always directed toward true beauty.True beauty is not something your see or feel. Rather, you come to know it exists by doing philosophy -- that is, by thinking about it." The Golden Ratio = 1.61803398875
  • Sunnyside
    33
    Dude ask her out.
  • 3017amen
    154


    "I believe, Plato was advocating for objective view of beauty."

    "Beauty is truth, truth beauty, —that is all / Ye know on earth, and all ye need to know”. -John Keats

    Sameer, As far as being consistent with an Objectivism argument, you might could make a case for universal beauty and/or that most if not all human's desire ' beauty ' in some way shape or form... . Maybe explore Aesthetics and see what comes up...
  • Jimmy
    15
    Love is almost irrational in absolute. It blinds you from the truth which might be the ugliness inside of whatever or whoever It may be.
  • Terrapin Station
    12.4k
    The relationship between truth and beauty is the centre of the Platonic theory of Ideas. [For Plato], beauty cannot be known and truth cannot be seen—yet it is this very intertwining of a double impossibility that defines the Idea and the authentic salvation of appearances in Eros’ ‘other knowledge’. In fact, the significance of the term ‘Idea’ (with its implicit etymological reference to an e-vidence, to an idein) is entirely contained in the play (in the unity-difference) between truth and beauty. Thus it is that, in the dialogues on love, every time one appears to be able to grasp beauty, there is a return to the invisible; every time that one appears to be able to close in on the consistency of the truth through episteme, there is a return to the vocabulary of vision, seeing and appearing.StreetlightX

    Holy crap is that awful writing.
  • joshua
    7
    It says that according Plato "love is rational because it is always directed toward true beauty.True beauty is not something your see or feel. Rather, you come to know it exists by doing philosophy -- that is, by thinking about it".Sameer

    I understand Plato in terms of something like 'projection.' As you get older and switch this love target for that one (and so on), you become more aware that people are something like screens for our fantasies for them. And we are screens for their fantasies.

    As we experience this projection as projection on a gut level, it affords us more detachment than before. But it comes at the cost of no longer believing in Her.
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