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Love Madness Phaedrus

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: English Literature
Wordcount: 1593 words Published: 1st Jan 2015

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Love is Madness

When analyzing the passage 244B of the Phaedrus, one can begin to see how love is madness but madness is not inherently evil because it can bring about good things. What is love exactly? What exactly is madness? How do we define them? Why do we call a person mad? These are questions to which answers can be sought through desperate search of Phaedrus.

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The Phaedrus is a historical dialogue between the two characters, Socrates and Phaedrus, about love. In this dialogue three distinctive speeches were given. The first speech was a speech presented by Phaedrus; the original speaker was a man named Lysias. He claimed that a man in love suffers from a kind of madness and you should not give yourself to one who is in love. The second and third speeches were spoken by Socrates as a sort of challenge given by Phaedrus. Phaedrus believed that Lysias speech was the best he’d ever heard and that no man could recite a better argument. Socrates took the challenge and spoke the truth about love from his own perspective.

The state of love is defined differently by different people and is often defined by platitudes. Love is a feeling of closeness to some people – to others it’s a feeling of being there for a lover. For some, true love is where you would be willing to put your life on the line for another. Let’s say that your true love falls off a bridge and he or she can’t swim. Would you think twice about jumping in? Now let’s suppose that you can’t swim either – the moment of choice between life and death would you still jump off that bridge? Would you risk your own life for your true love? Love has different connotations for other people – you can only define what you think love is because the form of love is not clear for our understanding.

Love is a desire for the beautiful things in life. There is no reason to love – it is a madness – you are responsible for who you fall in love with. Love is nurtured it doesn’t exist at first sight – it is grown from friendship. You can only prevent falling in love if you perceive the signs and avoid the love before it develops. Socrates describes love as an irrational desire that over comes the tendency toward right (238 B). Love usually just hits you and there is no one reason as to why you love that person – it’s that persons smell , behavior, actions, the way they think, it’s a lot of things put together that cause a chemical reaction called love. Love doesn’t exist without all the little day to day stuff. You can’t expect something like it to appear over night either. Love doesn’t exist until you forget who you are and concentrate on who you love. Love is not reasonable or logical. Not having a reason makes love a madness because as madness is lack of reason. It is a rash thoughtless behavior. Socrates takes off from Lysias’ argument and says:

It is not true this story that urges the beloved to accept the non-lover when he might have the lover, on the grounds that the former is sane, and the latter mad. It might be so if madness were straightforwardly an evil; but in fact the greatest of goods come to us through madness that is given though divine dispensation. For prophesy is a madness, and the prophetess at Delphi and the priestesses at Dodona when out of their senses have conferred great benefits on Greece (Phaedrus, 244 b)

Madness is not just a state of mind or a psychiatric disorder; madness is lack of reason or a loss of control. Socrates distinguishes a few kinds of madness in the world, the divine and the common kinds. The divine kind of madness takes the reason away from the man and puts it in the hands of the gods. This Socrates says is one of the greatest benefits because it is man’s inspiration.

Art is one of the greatest examples of divine madness, another is prophesy. The best works of art were often created by pushing though madness and creating something out of chaos. Madness is not something you can help, it’s not about whether you’re good or evil, and it’s what actions you take and your ability to make rational decisions. It varies from person to person. Mad people are not limited by anything because they do not have to follow the same rules; others expect them to be different.

If all madness was evil then nothing would be new because it takes someone to think out of the box to create something original. Origin is the foundation of all things. Origin is only created by something that has existed before it so it makes sense that creation would be a naturally divine. People throughout history have been given this divine madness and out of it they have created wonderful things. One day someone might come up with the cure for cancer out of a short period of madness. All humans have some insanity inside us it’s just the matter of degrees. Lysias does not note the degrees of insanity instead he sums all insanity as evil. The human condition tends to lean toward what feels right and thus it takes no thought to the feelings of someone who is irrational.

In the movie a beautiful mind, the character Nash made an important discovery that love can triumph over insanity (2001).

What truly is logic? Who decides reason? My quest has taken me to the physical, the metaphysical, the delusional, and back. I have made the most important discovery of my career – the most important discovery of my life. It is only in the mysterious equations of love that any logic or reason can be found.

A Beautiful Mind takes the worlds perspective of madness and turns it upside down. John Forbes Nash was a mathematician who suffered from schizophrenia even through his madness his logical mind still worked. Sometimes because of his madness rather than in spite of it he developed solutions to common everyday problems. Nash is the kind of person who might find the cure for cancer – even through the madness he was still able to give insight into things that a person without his mental illness would never be able to even understand much less solve. His madness did not mean that the logic was incorrect it just gave him edge that general public wouldn’t have been able to figure out – the general public had no trigger. In 1995 – John Forbes Nash rationally conquered his schizophrenia but in doing so he faced a great price. The conquering of this illness caused him to lose part of his logical ability. In his autobiography, Nash said:

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So at the present time I seem to be thinking rationally again in the style that is characteristic of scientists. However this is not entirely a matter of joy as if someone returned from physical disability to good physical health. One aspect of this is that rationality of thought imposes a limit on a person’s concept of his relation to the cosmos.

This clearly shows that he believed in the new limitation. His reasoning and his wisdom were taken away when he was given a worldly sense and judgment.

The ancient inventers of names did not consider madness (mania) a disgrace or reproach; otherwise they would not have woven into the noblest of arts, that which by which the future is foretold (Phaedrus, 244C).

This analysis is important to the overall theme of the Phaedrus because it distinguishes both the aspects of love. Lysias may have had a good point but he only understood half of the true aspects of love and madness. He believed that one should do their best to steer clear of passion because passion leads to regret and the neglecting of personal lives. A friend would be the safer choice of the two because a friend does not fall into madness. He never withholds anything of his friend and doesn’t fear telling him the truth to the face. Socrates believed that there was more to love then just madness and the negative aspects of love.

Madness and love are still very confusing topics today especially with the recent war. The condition of being in love takes you out of your own reasoning and concentrates only on what the other is thinking and feeling. Love isn’t something that is only between two people. Love is a madness of the heartand it takes no sides. True madness is found in all other types of love: it is in the love of money, for instance. It is also in the love of war as we see throughout history; human kind has always been at war. From ancient time to the wars of today, man has fought wars to prove his love, but his lack of reason causes him to kill the other man. It is this extreme love that causes Lysias to dismiss love as he does. All in all, madness, while perceived to be a bad thing in general, is not always necessarily so. Without madness, there could be no inspiration, no art, no beauty, love or humanity. Madness is love and love only comes out of madness.

Works Cited Page

John Nash (1995) Autobiography From Les Prix Nobel. The Nobel Prizes 1994, Editor Tore Frängsmyr, [Nobel Foundation], Stockholm, 1995

“madness.” Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary. 2008.Merriam-Webster Online. 8 October 2008http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/madness

Much Madness Is Divinest Sense: Wisdom in Memoirs of Soul-Suffering. By: McEntyre, Marilyn Chandler, Christian Century, 00095281, 9/23/2008, Vol. 125, Issue 19


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