Tag Archives: love

Is all seduction manipulation? Is there a right and a wrong way of seducing someone?

 By Nick Hayward.

Plato and Socrates were clear on love. There is common (pandemotic) love and there is heavenly (ouranian) love – carnal desire versus desire for the transcendental. The former, says the Symposium, is the kind of end to which seduction should not be directed. Seducers pursuing nothing but sex are the deceptive ones, manipulative, base and trapped in the cave. Love is not of a particular body or a particular thing, but rather it is the Idea of love that so many lovely things partake in. It is more virtuous to pursue this Idea (and forsake the pursuit of sexual gratification) or to inspire others (through seduction) to pursue the Idea in your step.


And Plato and Socrates also had some very practical advice for the seducer. In the Lysis, Socrates savages Hippothales, who does nothing but flatter his beloved with songs and poetry. Flattery only sets you up for a fall, he says. What you really need to do is humble your lover, take the wind out of their sails – bring them down a notch. Then they’re all yours. Socrates’ humbling of Lysis, the object of Hippothales’ affection, takes the form of a questioning, an elenctic examination. Socrates doesn’t just want Lysis to feel humbled, he wants him to feel like he knows nothing – he wants to start him on the path to philosophy and the pursuit of Ideas.


I argue that this advice – to humble your beloved instead of flattering them – has been twisted and taken to an extreme by the modern ‘seduction community’, the ‘pick-up artists’ who apparently live for little other than seduction and sex. One of the techniques advocated by this fraternity, called ‘negging’, is a subtle humbling intended to take a woman down a notch (‘great nails…are they real?’) The seduction community freely trades insults and one-liners of this sort, and sees their success as vindication of a cynical, misogynistic attitude towards the opposite sex. But they miss the point. It is never right to put someone down in order to satisfy your own (sexual) desires. Socrates, however, suggests that it might be right to put someone down in order to have them realize how little they know.


And there is more advice to be found in Plato. Towards the end of the Symposium, Alcibiades bursts into the dinner-party, drunk and belligerent. He tells the other symposiasts of the time he failed to seduce Socrates: his entreaties, his wining and dining, his embarrassment. Alcibiades talks about the nature of his desire to partake in Socrates’ virtue by seducing and having sex with him. We find, however, that this desire is perhaps not so genuine. Alcibiades finds it easy to revert to the apathetic mean and fall in with the masses when he cannot acquire virtue simply by gratifying a virtuous man. The lesson here is that the conflation of lust and love is misleading. The only way to become a better person or to pursue the Idea of love is to examine yourself, to commit to the path of philosophy. Sex and seduction are not and cannot be ends in themselves. Again, the seduction community misses the point.


Of course, all the contentions above can be vigorously challenged. Is it really virtuous to manipulate someone towards an end of your choosing? (Such as the pursuit of a Platonic Idea.) Can you ever escape carnal desire? Maybe all conversation is persuasion. If so, where do you draw the line between persuasion and manipulation? Just what is manipulation, and what is seduction? Socrates was perhaps a tad overmodest. How can a man who claims to know nothing know that it is right to humble others? (…for the sake of philosophy?) The seduction community began as a rarefied meat-market. Was it so bad then? Is there a problem with people enjoying the seduction game? What is the nature of the power relation between seducer and seductee?


Discussion group – what is love?

By Asra Gholami

“You know what love is?

It is all kindness, generosity

Disharmony prevails when

You confuse lust with love, while

The distance between the two

Is endless” (Rumi) 

So the question is: what is love?

I’ve been hearing different definitions of love recently, strange definitions actually. The discussion in the Socratic society at week seven about “dating” showed that many people are confused about love. I think the confusion is that people are looking to satisfy their physical and emotional needs, and they call these satisfactions “love”, which is not correct. Love does not have a reason, love is not for benefit. You simply love the beloved because you love him or her. Indeed in many cases you should sacrifice for the beloved and suffering is an integral part of love.

I read something interesting on the internet the other day. In a survey of 4-8 years olds, kids share their views on love. Some of these views are:

“Love is when your puppy licks your face even after you left him alone all day”.

“Love is when mommy gives daddy the best piece of chicken”

“Love is when you go out to eat and give somebody most of your French fries, without making them give you any of theirs”

To make me sad on the weekend one of my friends told me:  “Guess what, I’ve changed my opinion about love. Love doesn’t exist. It’s just people getting used to each other. Love is just a word to describe our thoughts about someone when we don’t see him or her for a while.”

However there are some other friends who keep me hopeful that love has been understood by a few people at least. One of these friends once told me his idea of love which I really liked. I think it was wonderful. He described love as “magic and hard work”. The magic occurs in the meeting of two souls. The hard work is what it takes to grow this “meeting” into something strong and robust, something lasting. A perfect description of love I think.

So I think it would be interesting and depressing at the same time to discuss about the meaning of love, so as I said before the question is: what is love?


Cut the Crap…about Dating

The number of people who are single has doubled in the past 30 years. This increase comes hand-in-hand with the rise of speed dating, internet dating and the acceptability of dating agencies.  In a similar way that “more of us are on diets than ever before but obesity rates are rising, something about dating is making us single.” (Times website)
I will assume that “to find a partner” is the aim/motivation of dating, in order to outline some of the problems with the practice of dating.  There are other motivations certainly, but let’s leave them to one side.  Then, later, I will challenge this assumption.
 1)       Problems with the practice of dating:
Dates are high-pressure situations – It is in informal and relaxed settings, rather than on a high-pressure date, that people make the deeper connections that lead to love.
Superficial qualities – competitive style of dating encourages us to rate appearance and superficial qualities over personality, even though, ultimately, this is not what makes for a good long-term partnership. When researchers at the University of Kent asked students to rate the most important quality in a potential mate, friendship came out top, followed by honesty. Just 5 per cent of men and 1.5 per cent of women rated looks.
The more people you meet, the better – This is particularly relevant to speed-dating.  The internet is encouraging us to rate people.  We are comparing our date not only with the others in the room but with millions of potential mates online.  Seeing more people is not the answer; getting to know people better is what’s required.  Market researchers in the U.S. interviewed women coming out of marriage licence bureaux. Twenty per cent had not liked their intended when they first met.
2)       Problems with aiming to find a partner:
The whole idea of “finding a partner” is wrongheaded.  If someone were to ask “Why do you want to have a relationship with this person?” dating encourages such responses as “They’re the most suitable I’ve met” “We get on well” or “We have a lot in common.”  There’s only one acceptable response to that question, and that is “because I think they’re the most amazing person I’ve ever met.”  Anything less is not enough.
Finding a partner is something that can only occur indirectly.  It is something that you should not seek but should be open to and allow them to happen to you.  C.S. Lewis: “Love makes a man really want not a woman, but one particular woman.”  And as multiple pop groups have sung (see, for example, Everything But The Girl), “I didn’t know I was looking for love until I found you.”
Relationships and partners are not something we should be seeking to acquire.  Alasdair Macintyre calls them “networks of giving and receiving”.  Relationships must flow in both directions.  If we go into a relationship primarily focused on what we’re going to get out of it, we’re doing something wrong.  But the activity of “finding a partner” is a matter of acquisition, a calculation of costs and benefits.  There’s no sense of giving to the other person.  It’s as though “being with someone” – anyone – is more important than the intimacies of the relationship itself.  Where’s love in that picture?  People are more concerned with finding “a partner” than with taking the time and giving the necessary investment to create a wonderful, lasting love.
3)       So what should we be doing?
Obvious as it sounds, we should be spending time with other people and mixing, getting to know people instead of looking for potential partners.  We should focus on understanding people, making and developing friendships.  We should be trying to deepen our friendships, to move them beyond the often superficial level.  It is likely that, on occasion, ‘partnerships’ will flow from this, but that is an additional benefit and not the intention.
George Orwell wrote, “The essence of being human is that…one is prepared in the end to be defeated and broken up by life, which is the inevitable price of fastening one’s love upon other human individuals.”  There’s no place for this in dating, which reduces relationships to a cost/benefit analysis, so no place for dating in human life.