Have you ever known someone who joined the faith of the person they were dating?
Perhaps the sincerity of that conversion seemed a little suspect, given that the move was likely motivated in part by the individual’s love for their significant other.
But Plato would have found it the most natural progression in the world.
He compared love to a ladder: what begins as an individual’s passion for a particular person can arouse a love for virtue which rises to a love for knowledge and, ultimately, a love for eternal ideals.
A desire for beauty leads to a desire for Beauty; an attraction to goodness becomes an attraction to Goodness; the inspiration to stay true to another inspires a dedication to Truth.
Plato posits that the potential for this progression is rooted in the fact that all earthly beauty is but a reflection of the perfect heavenly “Forms”; all the beauty we encounter here points to something greater beyond it.
But there’s more to it than that.
Love animates the soul, lending someone the energy, sense of capability, and motivation to move formerly backburnered, seemingly arduous quests to the fore.
Love opens dimensions of experience that someone couldn’t have conceived of, prompting them to wonder what other aspects of existence remain to be discovered.
Love, the desire to forever bind one’s life to another’s based on a feeling, softens the inflexible rationality that can ironically handicap the pursuit of truth.
Love emboldens us to do more, be more, perceive more.
Everyone senses that romance is shot through with possibilities. But a glance stolen across a room, a hand held in a darkened theater, or a kiss exchanged on a doorstep can mean more than the beginning of a new relationship; it can be the first rung of someone’s ascent into something even higher.