What is it that we really love when we love an individual person, and to what extent are we egoistical in the search for happy love? Moreover, what/whom should we love, and for what reason? I approach the subject “Love and the Individual” by analyzing Gregory Vlastos’ two main charges against Plato’s theory of love: Firstly, that Plato’s theory fails to give a satisfying account of love directed from one individual towards another individual; and secondly, that it is essentially egoistical. The two charges might be connected in the following way: the Platonic lover seemingly loves the beloved per accidens, i.e. only in so far as the beloved embodies qualities considered advantageous for the lover himself.
Throughout the thesis I underscore the points considered vulnerable to criticism, and highlight the phenomena subjected to insufficient treatment. As I assess Vlastos’ charges, three Platonic dialogues will be discussed in depth: the Symposium, the Lysis and the Phaedrus. With a few passages from other dialogues, I hope to complete the picture.