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Holmbo

Does platonic just mean the oposite of romantic?

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I was making another post for people to share their best friendship moments and I tried to use the term "most platonic moment" the same way one might use "most romantic moment" but that made me realize platonic is to me just a synonym for nonromantic. It's not a type of relationship in its own right. You can't use it to describe the intensity of the relationship like "I want us to be more platonic with each other". It seems weird that it does not stand on its own, away from the comparison to romance. It's the same problem as the "just friends" description. Or what do you think?

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I agree that that's how it's generally used, but I also see a trend for it to be shifting meaning among a-spec communities. Both in the sense that you describe, and also to allow for platonic sexual relationships (when normally platonic is used to mean non-romantic and non-sexual).    

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I wouldn't say platonic and romantic are two opposite things--I feel like that'd be saying how femininity and masculinity are opposites. I'd say that platonic and romantic are two different phenomena. Sometimes platonic and romantic intersect--romantic people often talk about the ideal of a lover also being a best friend. Also, there are romantic friendships, where people share romantic feelings, but are not in a formal romantic relationship. 

 

I strongly disagree that "platonic" is not a relationship in its own right. I'll argue that social norms tend to pigeonhole "platonic" as "common," as "unimportant," as "stepping stone to romantic," as "lesser than romantic." But friendship is rare, and hard: it takes work and luck to find someone who shares the same interests and values as you, to engage in an ongoing conversation with them, to commit to understanding them over days and months and years. Hangouts with friends, to me, take just as much energy and time as dates with (potential) romantic partners would, because I want everything to be just right for my friends. I prioritize my friends. I want to take care of my friends. I love my friends. And when my friends want to do the same back, without trying to push me into a romantic relationship? That's so amazing to me. Friendship is a powerful form of intimacy, and I think it's a damn shame that society doesn't recognise that.

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19 hours ago, Holmbo said:

I was making another post for people to share their best friendship moments and I tried to use the term "most platonic moment" the same way one might use "most romantic moment" but that made me realize platonic is to me just a synonym for nonromantic. It's not a type of relationship in its own right. You can't use it to describe the intensity of the relationship like "I want us to be more platonic with each other". It seems weird that it does not stand on its own, away from the comparison to romance. It's the same problem as the "just friends" description. Or what do you think?

Contrary to what my avatar suggests, I absolutely hate the term “platonic” (well, at least how it's commonly used). It confused the heck out of me. Like: “Why do people use such a complicated word for friendship?”

 

Now, you're absolutely right: in the world outside of the asexual and aromantic communities (= wootaaac), “platonic” is a synonym for “non-romantic”, but with a twist, which comes from the wholly confused conception of “romantic” in the wootaaac, that ties it to sexual.

 

To be precise: the wootaaac uses “platonic” to emphasize that a close relationship is non-sexual and lacks strong sensual affection, like making out, (which the wootaaac subsumes under “sexual” – something I had to learn, too) though we could assume the relationship to be sexual.

 

Because of this, the wootaaac doesn't use “platonic” to describe a deep friendship between two straight people of the same gender. Since nobody would assume this friendship to involve a sexual component, using “platonic” is not necessary.

 

Now the twist: Since the wootaaac defines “romantic relationship” as a close relationship which is sexual, it amusingly leaves out the most important part, the actual romance.

 

So a close relationship between two aromantics, which is also sexual, is by wootaaac-definitions not “platonic + sexual”, but “romantic”. It may be seen as immature, uncommitted and not serious, but it would still be seen as “romantic”.

 

Because of this, for the wootaaac a “platonic relationship” could even involve mutual romantic attraction and low-key romance.

 

Aside from these problems, “platonic” has absolutely nothing to do with Plato's conception of love. The Symposium is not just a profound philosophical text but, hey, surprisingly lively and entertaining! It's so great that even I like it, though it's actually about romantic love. I guess there are more than a few people who are mislead by our modern usage of “platonic love” and believe that it can just be some dry and boring scribblings of an otherworldly puritan. >:(

 

At some point in history they must have started to confuse Platonic (capital ‘P’ !) love (again: which includes romance and sex) with something like courtly love and the error has been repeated and exacerbated until our times.

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I feel awkward if someone describes the friendship I have with my close friends platonic because when I picked up the word platonic, which is before I have joined this community, I memorized it with an image of a couple who are lying in a bed naked without having actual sex.... It's extremely awkward to imagine I'm lying with them in a bed naked doing nothing....:facepalm:.

 

People will definitely take our regular but close friendship something sexual if they hear me using the word platonic...:/

 

And I don't have any attachment to the word in the first place. I just use words like "close friend"....And I don't really talk about the friendship I have with my friends. I'm not really excited about I'm friends with my friends...:| And I don't feel like giving some special title to that kind of relationship other than close friend. I feel that doing so is like I want to grab some guy, put a tag that says "my boyfriend" on him, and brag that I have something special to everybody else. And I don't really feel the need to show off to everybody else like "I'm this awesome to have this wonderful something called X, and you should probably get one too."

 

I'm even in a doubt about general, close friendship right now. It seems to us that we definitely need close friends or any kind of intimate partners, but lately I'm questioning if I really need one at all. I might prefer having only casual friends so that I can keep my mental personal space larger. Needing close friends might be sometimes like needing someone to prove you're worthy enough to have some [special label here] to other people. I think I understand we sometimes indeed need close friends we can share almost everything, and I feel excited when I feel I found someone who seem to understand me too, (as a side note I'm not really excited about doing stereotypically friends-ish stuff. I do recall I did that kind of things in the past and it feels friends-ish in an authentic way but I don't feel I want to do them again particularly) but using words like platonic regularly might end up promoting that "you should get one too because it's AWESOME!" kind of mindset without any intention to do so.

 

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3 hours ago, Elise said:

but using words like platonic regularly might end up promoting that "you should get one too because it's AWESOME!" kind of mindset without any intention to do so.

 

 

Is that the label of "platonic" being an issue though, or amatonormativity? If society interprets any labelled relationship as superior to/more important than non-labelled relationships, doesn't that mean that society has an issue with imposing a hierarchy on relationships in general? Like how society tends to impose a hierarchy of romantic relationships, which are labelled, over non-romantic ones, which are often unlabelled?

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Amatonormativity would be like a branch and the wootaaac people's usage of the word "platonic" would be like one of it's leaves...

 

Is wootaac a real word? I looked it up but Google gave me no result?

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2 hours ago, Elise said:

Amatonormativity would be like a branch and the wootaaac people's usage of the word "platonic" would be like one of it's leaves...

 

Is wootaac a real word? I looked it up but Google gave me no result?

I don't think it's a real word. I'm pretty sure @DeltaV just made it so that he wouldn't have to keep writing "world outside of the asexual and aromantic communities"  all the time in his post. On another note, I really like that word. Wootaaac.

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Oh, that was what it stood for! I understood what it meant from the context, but I didn't have any idea what it stood for. I feel I was dumb. :P I like it too!

 

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Wootaac just sounds like some kind of tribe to me :P I'm picturing groups of these people creeping around hunting for aromantics/aces like Elmer Fudd from Loony Toons...

 

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Or a bootleg brand of blu-tack

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It's fun to say, too. Wootaaac!

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On 4/5/2017 at 10:39 PM, Untamed Heart said:

Wootaac just sounds like some kind of tribe to me :P I'm picturing groups of these people creeping around hunting for aromantics/aces

sounds like a great plot for a dystopian horror-comedy (like C movie or below) ...

“Master Aro, the Wootaac have surrounded us! There is no way out!”

or

“(narrator:) ... but nobody knew that the Wootaac's high priestess of love was aromantic herself ... ” 

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@DeltaV, why don't you add it to Urban Dictionary? It's rather handy than strange. It's a loyal pain to type out what it stands for every time I want to say so and it happens kinda often.

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I just love that this thread completely derailed into a wootaac thread. :P

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I plead no contest to the charge of derailing this thread, Sir.

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I think mainstream culture does present romantic relationships and platonic friendships as a (false) dichotomy.
Things I especially dislike are using "relationship" to mean "romantic relationship" and using "platonic" to mean (any kind of) friendship.
 

On 03/04/2017 at 5:37 AM, DeltaV said:

Now, you're absolutely right: in the world outside of the asexual and aromantic communities (= wootaaac), “platonic” is a synonym for “non-romantic”, but with a twist, which comes from the wholly confused conception of “romantic” in the wootaaac, that ties it to sexual.

Not a fan of "wootaaac" since I see asexuality and aromantisism as very distinct and different things.

 

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2 hours ago, Mark said:

Not a fan of "wootaaac" since I see asexuality and aromantisism as very distinct and different things.

As different as night and day. But it can't be denied that people in both communities thought longer and harder about sexual and romantic attraction than the general population. That's what we share.

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On 4/11/2017 at 8:02 AM, DeltaV said:

As different as night and day. But it can't be denied that people in both communities thought longer and harder about sexual and romantic attraction than the general population. That's what we share.

Plus, I'm pretty sure that the asexual community came up with the concept of aromantic, or at least popularized it first. (I know that bi people had a concept of 'affectional' orientation before the ace community came around, but as far as I know they didn't conceive of the absence of that attraction.)

   

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On 4/3/2017 at 5:37 AM, DeltaV said:

Aside from these problems, “platonic” has absolutely nothing to do with Plato's conception of love. The Symposium is not just a profound philosophical text but, hey, surprisingly lively and entertaining! It's so great that even I like it, though it's actually about romantic love.

 

Hmm. When I read it, I figured that 'Aristophanes'' speech was about romantic love; but wasn't the Symposium as a whole broader than that? Romantic love as a kind of 'gateway drug' to the proper appreciation of divine/cosmic beauty? Truth is beauty and beauty is truth and all that jazz?

 

So, I guess if you want to use the term 'Platonic Love' accurately, it's probably something like the love a scientist feels towards their research topic :D

 

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On 4/18/2017 at 11:08 PM, NullVector said:

Hmm. When I read it, I figured that 'Aristophanes'' speech was about romantic love; but wasn't the Symposium as a whole broader than that?

Well, what's it about? Straightforwardly, the Symposium is about Eros. That's what Eryximachus proposes as a topic for conversation to the other participants: they should give speeches in praise of Eros. But Eros can be a god or (completely unfiguratively) just be a normal Greek common noun meaning something like passionate and desiring romantic love. In the original text, it's indistinguishable, because there was no capitalization in Ancient Greek which could have differentiated between proper and common nouns. This nice ambiguity is simply lost in the translation.

 

Six of the seven speeches are absolutely about the god Eros (the seventh speech is by the drunk Alcibiades, who comes late, and wants to praise Socrates instead of Erosbut the speech is still about Eros [common noun], namely, his love to Socrates), and I don't think the first five speeches deviate much from what we would ascribe to love today (the prominence of male same-sex love seems unusual, of course), though Eryximachus' speech seems pretty dry and abstract.

 

I would agree that Aristophanes' speech comes closest to modern ideas about romantic love, because it contains something like the soulmate concept (but it's also the most absurd because of the “fused humans” myth).

 

And then there is the sixth speech, Socrates' speech, which we would identify with Plato's own views on love... but even this still is first about romantic love, too.

On 4/18/2017 at 11:08 PM, NullVector said:

 but wasn't the Symposium as a whole broader than that? Romantic love as a kind of 'gateway drug' to the proper appreciation of divine/cosmic beauty?

Well, it would be weird if I didn't remember that. It's true that Socrates' speech (or rather Diotima's, which he recalls) is about the ascension of Eros, which starts with a particular beautiful individual, later (skipping some steps) reaches the beauty of abstract things like moral principles and finally reaches the summit with beauty itself, i.e. the Platonic Form of Beauty. And, as Diotima says, Eros is not love “of the beautiful”, but “of engendering and begetting upon the beautiful,” so at each step Eros compels the lover to produce something beautiful – at the lowest stage it would be physical procreation, at a higher “beautiful discourse” and the like – through which he gains some sort of immortality.

On 4/18/2017 at 11:08 PM, NullVector said:

So, I guess if you want to use the term 'Platonic Love' accurately, it's probably something like the love a scientist feels towards their research topic :D

Well, I don't think so. You're just taking some random stage of the ascension of Eros, it's not even its highest peak. And Eros is always the same Eros, it starts with romantic love to an individual, and when it ascends higher, it doesn't follow that the lover needs to abandon the love to his beloved, it's just that at some point, when he reaches the summit, that the lover recognizes that he was never really attracted to the beautiful individual per se but just to the Form of Beauty, which was imperfectly “instantiated” (OOP-lingo, lol) in the individual.

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16 hours ago, DeltaV said:
On 4/18/2017 at 10:08 PM, NullVector said:

So, I guess if you want to use the term 'Platonic Love' accurately, it's probably something like the love a scientist feels towards their research topic :D

Well, I don't think so. You're just taking some random stage of the ascension of Eros, it's not even its highest peak

 

More words from me might have helped xD By "the love a scientist feels towards their research topic", I was thinking of something like what Richard Feynman is talking about in the two quotations below. So, not so much love of a specific scientific topic's subject matter as love of the general process of understanding and inter-relating everything.

But is he talking about "the highest peak" here, or still just "some random stage of the ascension"? Or maybe not 'Eros' at all, but something else? I dunno.

 

Quote

A poet once said, “The whole universe is in a glass of wine.” We will probably never know in what sense he said that, for poets do not write to be understood. But it is true that if we look in glass of wine closely enough we see the entire universe. There are the things of physics: the twisting liquid which evaporates depending on the wind and weather, the reflections in the glass, and our imagination adds the atoms. The glass is a distillation of the earth’s rocks, and in its composition we see the secrets of the universe’s age, and the evolution of the stars. What strange array of chemicals are in the wine? How did they come to be? There are the ferments, the enzymes, the substrates, and the products. There in wine is found the great generalization: all life is fermentation. Nobody can discover the chemistry of wine without discovering the cause of much disease. How vivid is the claret, pressing its existence into the consciousness that watches it! If our small minds, for some convenience, divide this glass of wine, this universe, into parts — physics, biology, geology, astronomy, psychology, and so on — remember that nature does not know it! So let us put it all back together, not forgetting ultimately what it is for. Let us give one more final pleasure: drink it and forget it all!

 

Quote

It is a great adventure to contemplate the universe, beyond man, to contemplate what it would be like without man, as it was in a great part of its long history and as it is in a great majority of places. When this objective view is finally attained, and the mystery and majesty of matter are fully appreciated, to then turn the objective eye back on man viewed as matter, to view life as part of this universal mystery of greatest depth, is to sense an experience which is very rare and exciting. It usually ends in laughter and a delight at the futility of trying to understand what this atom and the universe is, this thing – atoms with curiosity – that looks at itself and wonders why it wonders.

 

And lets not leave Carl Sagan out of this (eh @starstuff ;) )

Quote

The Cosmos is also within us. We're made of star-stuff. We are a way for the Cosmos to know itself.

 

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On 18/04/2017 at 10:08 PM, NullVector said:

Hmm. When I read it, I figured that 'Aristophanes'' speech was about romantic love; but wasn't the Symposium as a whole broader than that? Romantic love as a kind of 'gateway drug' to the proper appreciation of divine/cosmic beauty? Truth is beauty and beauty is truth and all that jazz?

I don't see how it could possibly have been about romantic love. The concept didn't exist in Classical Greek culture. The way these people understood "love" does not really map well into 21st century ideas.

 

17 hours ago, DeltaV said:

Well, what's it about? Straightforwardly, the Symposium is about Eros. That's what Eryximachus proposes as a topic for conversation to the other participants: they should give speeches in praise of Eros. But Eros can be a god or (completely unfiguratively) just be a normal Greek common noun meaning something like passionate and desiring romantic love. In the original text, it's indistinguishable, because there was no capitalization in Ancient Greek which could have differentiated between proper and common nouns. This nice ambiguity is simply lost in the translation.

Most likely the Classical Greeks did have a method of distinguishing between proper and common (or abstract) nouns in cases where it mattered. No reason for it to resemble two different versions of the same letter, as used in modern English.
The problem I can see with assuming that erotic love is romantic is projecting the modern idea that sex and romance go together. Rather than simply erotic equating to sexual. Possibly Classical Greeks (or Romans) would better understand romantic love as a "compound" rather than "element". If they understood it at all.
 

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22 hours ago, NullVector said:

 

More words from me might have helped xD By "the love a scientist feels towards their research topic", I was thinking of something like what Richard Feynman is talking about in the two quotations below. So, not so much love of a specific scientific topic's subject matter as love of the general process of understanding and inter-relating everything.

But is he talking about "the highest peak" here, or still just "some random stage of the ascension"? Or maybe not 'Eros' at all, but something else? I dunno.

The highest peak to which Eros can ascend would be (as already said) the knowledge of the Form of beauty. Appreciating the beauty in understanding reality certainly is not knowledge of the Form of beauty.

I don't know what Feynman thought about beauty, but I doubt that he would agree with aesthetic realism. Probably for him humans just evolved a “brain module” by which they attach “beauty” to certain things, which is itself not at all a real feature or property like “electrically charged” or “acidic” would be. So what's so important about it that our ape brains feel a “mystery of the greatest depth” or “majesty” when contemplating the universe? In reality, nothing would be there...

 

One could argue that in the notion of simplicity (as in Occam's razor), beauty is contained, and then it better be objective. A beautiful and elegant theory will be judged as “more simple” (and therefore “more true”) than an inelegant, “ugly” theory (though it may be intellectually simpler to understand). Plato would see this as a vindication of his transcendentals, the highest interconnected ideas like goodness, oneness, truth and beauty. But someone like Feynman would probably not accept this.

21 hours ago, Mark said:

Most likely the Classical Greeks did have a method of distinguishing between proper and common (or abstract) nouns in cases where it mattered. No reason for it to resemble two different versions of the same letter, as used in modern English.

Yes, that's what I meant, original texts were written in all upper-case. Lower-case Greek letters were developed only in the Byzantine empire and then at some point capitalization was used for emphasis and proper nouns (when I had Ancient Greek in school all modern editions of classical texts anachronistically had capitalized proper nouns). Similarly for Latin, capitalization appears only in the middle ages.

21 hours ago, Mark said:

The problem I can see with assuming that erotic love is romantic is projecting the modern idea that sex and romance go together. Rather than simply erotic equating to sexual. Possibly Classical Greeks (or Romans) would better understand romantic love as a "compound" rather than "element". If they understood it at all.

Well, yes, it would be an oversimplification to say Eros = “romantic love”, but it's not that extremely far removed imho. I don't really know what erotic love is, though, it's difficult to pin down. Maybe like limerence?

 

There was Aphrodite Pandemos and Aphrodite Ourania, the former basically representing sexuality, the latter “more noble love”, like “spiritual romantic love”. So in this way they understood it. But there are a lot of complications...

 

In Ancient Greece it was a common view that a normal woman (including those from wealthy families), who was uneducated and didn't have much of a social life, was just not a worthy object of love for a free man: too boring and plain. To passionately admire an intelligent, charming hetaira was something Greek men could understand. But how real could any love to such a “professional” have been? Also, it was often assumed that women were incapable of feeling truly intense love: You love them and they don't really love you back, so better don't love them at all. So it isn't surprising that Aphrodite Ourania was strongly associated with love between men (she was sometimes even portrayed as bearded) – and this brings with it notions like benefiting from the partner's bravery and wisdom etc, all ideas which the modern concept of romance completely lacks.

 

I think that for Ancient Rome one can come up with far more clear-cut examples of romantic love. Ovid would probably lack the seriousness and commitment and is more an erotic poet (though Pyramus and Thisbe seems corny-romantic to me), but Tibullus and Catullus imho pretty much conform to our modern standards of romantic love. Also, Roman women were much more free, educated and respected than their Greek sisters, so it was not seen as “lowbrow” to truly love them.

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