Essay on Desire1. Desire and Love
Freud and Plato have the similar idea that love is the search of something that cannot be left behind. But their understanding regarding is being seek and cannot be left are completely different.
Freud’s conception of love is very much connected with the choice that is made by each person when choosing the partner for life. He claims that love-preferences are formulated in the early childhood and are influencing each person’s mate choice. His conception of love is tied to sexual attraction, and he insists that from the early childhood people are influenced by the behavior of their parents towards them. Freud argues that men and women are looking for partners that look like one of their parent (boys are looking for girl-friends who are like their mothers, girls- like fathers), have similar characters, etc. According to Freud, age also plays a great role in choosing the time when to get married. Boys with young mothers tend to choose women that are much younger, for example. But there is still the light at the end of the tunnel, as with each new relationship, that connection becomes weaker, as emotional tied with the family decreases. The idea is that love is tightly connected with sexual attraction, and the goal of growing up is seeking to eliminate any emotional family ties in order to be able to make conscious independent choices.
In Plato’s “Symposium” the totally another concept of love is presented. This is what Socrates was speaking with Diotema about: “What then is Love? I asked; Is he mortal? No. What then? As in the former instance, he is neither mortal nor immortal, but in a mean between the two. What is he, Diotima? He is a great spirit (daimon), and like all spirits he is intermediate between the divine and the mortal.”
Plato differentiates between the world of Being and the world of Becoming. The world of Being is the one of ideas and forms- transcendent, absolute and independent, and the world of Becoming is that of movement and changes. Understanding of these two worlds is essential in understanding Plato’s idea of love. Plato considers love to be the powerful and mysterious medium of arriving to the Highest Good, which is intuitive state of consciousness. It is that human-beings should be looking for and it is said to be the ultimate goal. In the dialogue with Socrates, Diotema presents the conception of love in three parts. In the first part she introduces the concept of the duality to differentiate between divine and mortal, and presents love as the informing spirit and the bridge between two worlds. She argues that love cannot be divine, as one cannot pursue something that he already possesses, and gods already have good things and beauty. Diotema says that love is a great achievement and has dual nature, as it springs from need and lack to plentitude of feelings. In the second part of the dialogue, Diotema says that only pursuing of good by means of love can bring absolute happiness, the point when the needs and desires are completely satisfied. Diotema associates the idea of love with the process of creation through both body and soul. Love is a gateway to obtain immorality and the means of giving birth to beautiful things. And in the final part, Diotema associates love with Beauty and says that it is the only thing that makes life meaningful. Love is a human being’s helper, the bridge, the tool to identify hereditary connections, as well as the mean of getting from the world of Becoming to the world of Being. Love provides an opportunity to create, which is divine thing, and people are able to create new lives through physical connections, as well as music, poems and other works of art through spiritual one.
2. Desire, Flesh and Soul
When the young lady of age 14-15 listens to pop-music, she thinks that on order to be happy she needs to be in a relationship with the boy, suffer and be obsessed with physical contact with him, and there is nothing beyond such state of things. It is terrible and sad, as young people in the process of their personalities formations are not always able to differentiate right from wrong and true values from wrong ones.
Augustine was fighting obsession during all his life. He was associating desires of sexual origin with the Adam’s sin, and even though it was made the part of human nature, it is still sinful. This is how he describes his experiences in “Confessions”: “There seethed all around me a cauldron of lawless loves. I loved not yet, yet I loved to love, and out of a deep-seated want, I hated myself for wanting not. I sought what I might love, in love with loving, and I hated safety... To love then, and to be beloved, was sweet to me; but more, when I obtained to enjoy the person I loved. I defiled, therefore, the spring of friendship with the filth of concupiscence, and I beclouded its brightness with the hell of lustfulness”. Augustine didn’t view the actual sexual act as being evil, but thoughts and emotions that person experiences. He argues that the intention of sin in thoughts, even unperformed, an obsession of having someone, is a sin.
Freud is more rational about his opinion regarding the sexual obsession. He considered obsession to be the symptom of the bigger clinical picture. He envisioned obsession as the blame which is addressed by the person to himself only in the anticipating of the sexual pleasure, but finally these blames are disfigured by “an unconscious psychic process of transformation and substitution”. Freud investigates in the idea of the obsessional neurosis by introducing the notion of Zwang (compulsion).
3. Desire and Pride
Augustine considered the pride to be the beginning of sin. He noted that when the person is looking for self-satisfaction, he ruins his soul. Augustine considered that it was pride that forced Eve and Adam to eat the forbidden fruit. The fruit was evil, because the tree was evil, but the tree is the nature that is created by God, and therefore it is no longer divine and should be separated from God.
In the “Scriptures” Augustine called proud people self-pleasers and said that it is very good to have the heart lifted up, but not towards oneself, and have the heart full of pride, but to God, so that the pride is obedient, as people should humble themselves in the sight of the Lord, in the first turn. When the person is proud with himself, it destroys his heart, and when he is proud with God- it exalts it. Augustine considered human pride to be the nature’s defect, and therefore promoted humility being practiced in the city of God for attaining the most virtue.
Plato considered that when people are proud of themselves they are not able to love, and therefore they lost the essential part of their being- divine constituent. In Plato’s understanding, pride is very much connected with the person’s ability to love, and therefore a person will loose all benefits from love, which are discussed in the first essay and will not be able to achieve the highest happiness and live with the present moment.
I agree with authors that pride is the downfall for humanity, as proud person acknowledges his own successes in the first turn and denies his environment, which also participated in his success. And it was not he, who created that environment, but God, and therefore, proud person just denies his divine origin and is left with his physical and material things. And I am sure that it is impossible to exist without spiritual life constituent.
4. Desire and Contentment
Ataraxia is referred to as the Greek term used by Epicurus for characterizing the state of freedom from preoccupations and worries, and it was the greatest pleasure, according to Epicurus. He considered ataraxia to be the only real happiness possible for the human-being. Ataraxia encompasses the balanced and detached state of mind, and it presumes that they person transcended the material world and is more in divine one preoccupied only with philosophical ideas.
In psychology, ataraxia is defined as the state when the person has difficulties in connecting the emotions about the effects of the action with the action itself.
David Byrne has his own opinion regarding ataraxia issue, and considered it to be the sin, along with many other modern things. He provided the rewritten modern version of Bile with the introduction of contemporary characters, actions, values and sins. He replaced Biblical whores and money-lenders with website managers, graphic designers and women who married stupid men, etc. He also introduced new sins, such a beauty (for creating an illusions that everything goes well), charity (for an attempt to control one’s life), hope (for coward mistaking the reality), etc. The same is with ataraxia. Of course, he is being satirical in his ideas, but there is always the piece of truth in any satirical essay.
To my opinion ataraxia is still the key to our happiness, as preoccupation with day-to-day routine things takes a lot of energy, which is difficult to restore. Spiritual development and striving to protect himself from worries is good for the person, as worries and preoccupations are meaningless and add nothing valuable to person’s life. Worries take away person’s divine origin, as they are not created by God, and trying to cope with them, a person might just forget that he has some divine tasks to fulfill on this Earth. And he might forget that he was not created for solving problems, but to create something new.
5. Desire and Materialism
Most people consider that things that they surround themselves with define their personalities. And if to buy everything expensive and rich, then their personalities and characters will be considered better. Such world materialistic idea is very common, unfortunately. And it appears that things are more powerful then people are and are able to change our characters and our images in the eyes of other people. There is neither spiritual constituent in such conclusion, nor intellectual one. When care about things only, they are not real, as it their egos involved in the process of choosing.
Hegel had his own opinion upon the ego and consciousness issue: “Consciousness constitutes the reflected or correlation grade of mind: the grade of mind as appearance.
Ego is infinite self-relation of mind, but as subjective or as self-certainty. The immediate identity of the natural soul has been raised to this pure ‘ideal’ self identity; and what the former contained is for this self subsistent reflection set forth as an object. The pure abstract freedom of mind lets go from it its specific qualities,--the soul’s natural life - to an equal freedom as an independent object”.
Hegel argues that self-consciousness is the desire, but the statement seems to be rather paradoxical. And the question arises about how sub-consciousness can claim to exist in life when it certify that the sphere of life have importance just through projects that are motivated by personal desires and that its dependent life attachments are not important to such projects. Hegel answers the question that the existence is only possible with other mode of self-consciousness. Those self-consciousness modes are servile and lordly ones. And as self-consciousness is predominantly characterized by the desire, each mode appears to be independent from other. As each mode presents itself to another as independent unity to the life of the other, each makes life completely issue to the actions each has set self-consciously for itself in life not taking into consideration life constraints, including and especially each other. Each is a living constraint to another, but not like something else in life, because each envisions another as a living constraint intuitively, but self-consciously. Each presents itself to another as the denial of another’s life, for instance death. But death here is not the line of that negation distinctive of the life process; it is, which is even more essential, the life denial as what self-consciousness designs for itself in life. So each does not just support its “biological” existence, but supports its existence as designed and ordered independently by itself and self-consciously for itself. Two consequences can be followed from this situation— both modes can simply die, in which case the experience of self-consciousness as desire ends, or one suppresses another or one can surrender to the other in life risking fear, in which case the winner receives from the loser acknowledgement of its independence, certainty, and projects, while the suppressed accepts the fact that life is as important to it as pure-self-consciousness.
There can be also other modes that are evolutionary ones. In general, Hegel considered emergence of self-consciousness in people’s minds is the evolutionary step, and it is constantly evolving through moments and situations.
I consider Hegel idea about self-consciousness as the desire is very complicated and difficult to understand, but still I agree with his basic issues and after observation of my environment, I can say that he is absolutely right. It is our self- consciousness that define things around us and it is only our perception to consider things and events to have positive or negative impression on us. The relationships between people are also in the greatest extent stipulated with playing master and slave roles, and it remains people’s self-conscious desire. There are people who think and position themselves as they like to obey and suffer, and there are some that like to dominate. The other question is that those roles are not their true desires, but still as a result those two modes of self-consciousness consume for breakfast, lunch and dinner.