quarta-feira, 23 de maio de 2012

LOOKING IN TO THE MIRROR



LOOKING IN TO THE MIRROR
António de Castro Caeiro FCSH/UNL, LIF

“…ἐρᾷ μὲν οὖν, ὅτου δὲ ἀπορεῖ· καὶ οὔθ’ ὅτι πέπονθεν οἶδεν οὐδ’ ἔχει φράσαι, ἀλλ’ οἷον ἀπ’ ἄλλου ὀφθαλμίας ἀπολελαυκὼς πρόφασιν εἰπεῖν οὐκ ἔχει, ὥσπερ δὲ ἐν κατόπτρῳ ἐν τῷ ἐρῶντι ἑαυτὸν ὁρῶν λέληθεν. καὶ ὅταν μὲν ἐκεῖνος παρῇ, λήγει κατὰ ταὐτὰ ἐκείνῳ τῆς ὀδύνης, ὅταν δὲ ἀπῇ, κατὰ ταὐτὰ αὖ ποθεῖ καὶ ποθεῖται, εἴδωλον ἔρωτος ἀντέρωτα ἔχων· So he is in love, but he knows not with whom; he does not understand his own condition and cannot explain it; like one who has caught a disease of the eyes from another, he can give no reason for it; he sees himself in his lover as in a mirror, but is not conscious of the fact. And in the lover's presence, like him he ceases from his pain, and in his absence, like him he is filled with yearning such as he inspires, and love's image, requited love, dwells within him.” Phaedrus, 255d3-e1.
I.
This passage states a fact, ἐρᾷ μὲν οὖν. People do actually fall in love with someone else, ὅτου. The description of the situation of one’s falling and being in love with someone else starts with the acknowledgment that this situation does actually takes place. The factuality of this situation is the first clear-cut feature stated. The second being indeterminacy. All main traits characterizing this phenomenon are both factually recognized and positively indefinite.
a) So he is in love, ἐρᾷ μὲν οὖν, but b) He is at loss about whom, ὅτου δὲ ἀπορεῖ. c) He does not know, οἶδεν, himself what it is that he has been through, ὅτι πέπονθεν, d) and cannot explain it, φράσαι.
From the two similes next stated we get two more indeterminacy features. 1) The first simile compares one’s being in love with one having caught a disease of the eyes from another, οἷον ἀπ’ ἄλλου ὀφθαλμίας ἀπολελαυκὼς, without being able to give any reason for it, πρόφασιν εἰπεῖν οὐκ ἔχει. The second is the mirror simile. The lover 2) sees himself in his lover as in a mirror, ὥσπερ δὲ ἐν κατόπτρῳ ἐν τῷ ἐρῶντι ἑαυτὸν ὁρῶν, and this fact also escapes his notice, ἑαυτὸν ὁρῶν λέληθεν [sc. αὐτόν]. He sees himself in his lover as in a mirror, but this fact escapes his notice, i. e. he is not conscious of the fact. ὥσπερ δὲ ἐν κατόπτρῳ ἐν τῷ ἐρῶντι ἑαυτὸν ὁρῶν λέληθεν. 

II.
We come across this passage in the Phaedrus after Socrates realizes that he and Lysias have vilified love. The teaching: “the lover should be favoured rather than the non-lover”, 243d, is a ἁμάρτημά περὶ μυθολογίαν needing a καθαρμός as Hermias puts it in his scholion in Phaedrum. Love’s dignity has been disrespected. For, 1) “If Eros is a god or something divine it cannot be something evil” (“εἰ δ’ ἔστιν, ὥσπερ οὖν ἔστι, θεὸς ἤ τι θεῖον ὁ Ἔρως, οὐδὲν ἂν κακὸν εἴη” 242e2-3). Further, 2) “to say that favours should be granted rather to the one who is not in love than to the lover (“ὡς χαριστέον μὴ ἐρῶντι μᾶλλον ἢ ἐρῶντι.” 227c7-8) is absolutely wrong, even sinful.

The two speeches are both 1) shameless and 2) false.

They must be considered “shameless, ὡς ἀναιδῶς, for

“if any man of noble and gentle nature, γεννάδας καὶ πρᾷος τὸ ἦθος, one who was himself in love with another of the same sort, or who had ever been loved by such a one, had happened to hear us saying that lovers take up violent enmity because of small matters and are jealously disposed and harmful to the beloved, (…) [he] would imagine he was listening to people brought up among low sailors, who had never seen a generous love, οὐδένα ἐλεύθερον ἔρωτα ἑωρακότων? [He would] refuse utterly to assent to our censure of Love, πολλοῦ δ’ ἂν δεῖν ἡμῖν ὁμολογεῖν ἃ ψέγομεν τὸν Ἔρωτα? 243c1-d1.”

Both discourses are false, for,
“the saying which teaches that when a lover is at hand the non-lover should be more favoured [is not authentic], οὐκ ἔστ’ ἔτυμος λόγος, because the lover is insane, μαίνεται, and the other sane, σωφρονεῖ. For if it were a simple fact that insanity is an evil, the saying would be true; but in reality the greatest of blessings come to us through madness, when it is sent as a gift of the gods. νῦν δὲ τὰ μέγιστα τῶν ἀγαθῶν ἡμῖν γίγνεται διὰ μανίας, θείᾳ μέντοι δόσει διδομένης.” 243e8-244a8.[1]
So both speeches sinned against Love ἡμαρτανέτην περὶ τὸν Ἔρωτα; 242e4.

Thereupon, Socrates says that “he is ashamed at the thought of this man and is afraid of Love himself, αἰσχυνόμενος, καὶ αὐτὸν τὸν Ἔρωτα δεδιώς”. In order to undo what has been said against the god, sc., “that the non-lover should be favoured rather than the lover”, it is of necessity that he purifies for himself, καθήρασθαι ἀνάγκη. Lysias too is advised to write as soon as he can “that the lover should be favoured rather than the non-lover, ὡς χρὴ ἐραστῇ μᾶλλον ἢ μὴ ἐρῶντι ἐκ τῶν ὁμοίων χαρίζεσθαι.” 243d3-7.

That the lover should be favoured than the non-lover, ὡς χρὴ ἐραστῇ μᾶλλον ἢ μὴ ἐρῶντι ἐκ τῶν ὁμοίων χαρίζεσθαι, turns upside down the first teaching. For this to happen, the first teaching needed to be made ineffective. This was achieved by showing that the dictum is both shameless and false. But for the opposite thesis to prevail, we need “to wash out the brine from [our] ears with the water of a sweet discourse, ποτίμῳ λόγῳ οἷον ἁλμυρὰν ἀκοὴν ἀποκλύσασθαι, 243d3-7”.

III.
This is obtained by way of a recantation, παλινῳδία, in identical terms to the one Stesichorus once wrote.

As the story goes: “when S. was stricken with blindness for speaking ill κακηγορία, of Helen, he was not, like Homer, ignorant of the reason, οὐκ ἠγνόησεν, οὐκ ᾔσθετο, but, since he was educated, ἅτε μουσικὸς ὢν, he knew it, ἔγνω τὴν αἰτίαν, and straightway he wrote the poem: ‘That saying is not true; thou didst not go within the well-oared ships, nor didst thou come to the walls of Troy’ (Stesichorus Frag. 32 Bergk) [243b] and when he had written all the poem, which is called the recantation, he saw again at once, καὶ ποιήσας δὴ πᾶσαν τὴν καλουμένην Παλινῳδίαν παραχρῆμα ἀνέβλεψεν.
The poet tried to undo the impiety of his own words against Helen of Troy by composing a poem stating a message opposite to the former one.

Here Socrates too, like Stesichorus, as Hermias says in his scholion, realizes his story about love needs to be completely changed. His statement “the non lover should be favoured” is a ἁμαρτία (sin) that needs to be purified. The καθαρμὸς περὶ τὴν μυθολογίαν ἁμαρτία, the παλινῳδία, consists of the προβαλέσθαι τὰς ἀληθεῖς καὶ ἐνθουσιαστικὰς περὶ τοῦ ἔρωτος ἐννοίας, putting forward the true and god-possessed reflexions about love, for μάλιστα δὲ ἡ παρὰ τῶν θεῶν βοήθεια τελειοῦσα τὴν ψυχὴν καὶ εἰς τὸ ἀληθὲς ἄγουσα, for it is the help got from the gods that especially perfects the soul and brings it close to the truth.
An ἔννοια is a προσθήκη, a payment for the pollution inflicted on the other, μολυσμοῦ ἀλλοτρίου, since it was an ἔννοια that caused the removal of purity from the other καθαρμοῦ ἀλλοτρίου ἀφαίρεσις [73, 27-28].
Hermias considers three different possible outcomes for slandering. One is the situation Homer gets himself in. He was blinded as an injury resulting from his having slandered the gods, although without perceiving it ὃ μὲν γὰρ μολυνθεὶς καὶ βλαβεὶς οὐκ ᾔσθετο, 10. Stesichorus is in a different situation: βλαβεὶς ᾔσθετο μετὰ τὴν βλάβην, he perceived he had slandered Helen but only after he got injured. Only Socrates tried to make amends for his slandering love before he was injured, πρὶν δὲ βλαβῆναι ἰώμενος, for the βλάβη did not come immediately, but only after some time had elapsed, οὐ γὰρ παραχρῆμα ἕπεται ἡ βλάβη, ἀλλὰ γίνεταί τις μεταξὺ χρόνος.
Plato shows by these words 1) that Homer οὐδὲ ᾔσθετο βλαβείς, did not even recognize he was injured because of his slander. 2) Stesichorus was cured because he had perceived his slander, αἰσθόμενος τῆς βλάβης ἰάσατο, although he did not escape βλάβη. 3) Socrates got himself healed before he was injured, πρὶν βλαβῆναι ἰάσατο. These, says Hermias, are not argumenta ad homines. The names Homer, Stesichorus and Socrates stand for three ways of being or dispositions, ἕξεις, vis-à-vis beauty and are, therefore, ways of understanding love and how we find ourselves disposed to others in this extreme situation.
1) Homer is a παραδεῖγμα for the first ἕξις towards beauty and love. He pays heed only to the beauty perceived by the senses, holding this to be the first and true beauty. He is not capable of lifting up his eyes from her to any higher kind of beauty. This is the reason why he remains blinded by her, not having perceived that he thereby excludes other true beauty and true love. He got injured, for he had elected Helen of Troy as the quintessence of beauty.
2) Stesichorus is an example of the second ἕξις. In his first poem on Helen of Troy he also believes that the beauty perceived by the senses is the original and real one, but later his disposition recalls to mind, ἀναμνησθεῖσα, from the hic et nunc and rises to the beauty perceived by the heart, ἐπὶ τὸ νοητὸν ἀναπεμφθεῖσα κάλλος, and this is the reason why this disposition lets us look up, ἀναβλέψαι, to this kind of beauty. By perceiving it he got himself healed.[2]
3) Socrates stands as example, ἔνδειγμα, of the third disposition, which is entirely ἀβλαβῆ. ἐκ βραχείας δὲ ἀναμνήσεως καὶ φιλοσοφίας ἑκατέρῳ καὶ τῷ αἰσθητῷ καὶ τῷ νοητῷ κάλλει τὸ πρόσφορον μέτρον ἐπιβάλλουσαν, from a flash memory and through philosophy he gets a disposition applying thus the right proportion, τὸ πρόσφορον μέτρον ἐπιβάλλουσαν both to the beauty perceived by the senses and to the beauty perceived by the heart. This was what enabled Socrates to be healed before being injured.
Between 1) and 3) there is a tension between opposites:— the blindness, τυφλότης, τυφλωθῆναι, towards the unseen harmony that can only be captured by the heart and the seeing, ἀναβλέψαι, of the sensory beauty that merely emerges externally to be perceived by the senses. So the real meaning of recantation aims at 1) ceasing to sing, ἔπαυσαν ἀνυμνεῖν, the aesthetic beauty seen through optical exterior perception and 2) turning the inner eye, αὐτοῦ τὸ ὄμμα περιήγαγον, to the beauty perceived by the heart, the existence of which is unapparent, εἰς δὲ τὸ νοητὸν καὶ τὴν ἀφανῆ οὐσίαν καὶ τὸ ὄντως ὂν κάλλος αὐτοῦ τὸ ὄμμα περιήγαγον, and is only captured by the heart, ὃ νῷ μόνῳ ἐστὶ ληπτόν.

IV.
“…ἐρᾷ μὲν οὖν, ὅτου δὲ ἀπορεῖ· καὶ οὔθ’ ὅτι πέπονθεν οἶδεν οὐδ’ ἔχει φράσαι, ἀλλ’ οἷον ἀπ’ ἄλλου ὀφθαλμίας ἀπολελαυκὼς πρόφασιν εἰπεῖν οὐκ ἔχει, ὥσπερ δὲ ἐν κατόπτρῳ ἐν τῷ ἐρῶντι ἑαυτὸν ὁρῶν λέληθεν. καὶ ὅταν μὲν ἐκεῖνος παρῇ, λήγει κατὰ ταὐτὰ ἐκείνῳ τῆς ὀδύνης, ὅταν δὲ ἀπῇ, κατὰ ταὐτὰ αὖ ποθεῖ καὶ ποθεῖται, εἴδωλον ἔρωτος ἀντέρωτα ἔχων· So he is in love, but he knows not with whom; he does not understand his own condition and cannot explain it; like one who has caught a disease of the eyes from another, he can give no reason for it, he sees himself in his lover as in a mirror, but is not conscious of the fact. And in the lover's presence, like him he ceases from his pain, and in his absence, like him he is filled with yearning such as he inspires, and love's image, requited love, dwells within him.”
Let us open up this almost hermetic thought, before applying to it the recantation method.
“…ἐρᾷ μὲν οὖν, ὅτου δὲ ἀπορεῖ· καὶ οὔθ’ ὅτι πέπονθεν οἶδεν οὐδ’ ἔχει φράσαι, ἀλλ’ οἷον ἀπ’ ἄλλου ὀφθαλμίας ἀπολελαυκὼς πρόφασιν εἰπεῖν οὐκ ἔχει, So he is in love, but he knows not with whom; he does not understand his own condition and cannot explain it; like one who has caught a disease of the eyes from another, he can give no reason for it” Phaedrus, -e1.
1) The first simile explains the aporetical condition of love. Whoever is in this condition is perplexed about whom he is in love with (ὅτου δὲ ἀπορεῖ). He is in a similar situation to one who has contracted ophthalmia from another (ἀπ’ ἄλλου). Ophthalmia is a “disease of the eyes accompanied by the discharge of humours” and was considered to be caught from another by contagion. Thus to fall in love is to fall ill. Both love and disease are contagious.

Like love, so ophthalmia too is something in the air ὥσπερ, φησὶ, τὸ πνεῦμα ἀπό τινων λείων ἀνακάμπτει ἐπὶ τὸ πεμφθὲν ἀπὸ τῆς ἠχοῦς (201, 23-24).

Like ophthalmia, so love too is contracted by indirect contact through the eyes. Love’s and ophthalmia’s patients “do not understand their own condition and cannot explain it., “they can give no reason for it”. They do not know where this πάθος has come from. This disease is contracted διὰ τὴν συμπάθειαν καὶ τὴν ἕνωσιν. Mutatis mutandis the beloved, loving the lover in return, or exchanging love for love, cares affectionately for his lover, but at the same time he is in complete ignorance of what he suffers from, καὶ ὁ ἐρώμενος ἀντερῶν τοῦ ἐραστοῦ φιλεῖ μὲν, ἀγνοεῖ δὲ ὃ πάσχει (201, 27-28).

2) The second is the mirror simile. We read: ἐν τῷ ἐρῶντι ἑαυτὸν ὁρῶν λέληθεν (his seeing himself in his lover escapes notice). The subject of ὁρῶν is either a ἐραστής or a ἐρώμενος. In either case, whoever looks is looking at a ἐρῶν, present active participle, not a ἐρώμενος, present middle participle. Λανθάνω is in the construction + supplementary participle and must be rendered by an adverb, unawares. Otherwise the construction with the accusative would leave ὁρῶν without a direct object. Unawares he sees himself in the lover.
Is this then a fact: when we fall in love, we find ourselves looking at our beloved as if we were looking at a mirror, but we are unaware of it? Let us expand this simile. Literally: Somebody looks at a mirror. Metaphorically: Somebody looks at her or his beloved. Then again: It may go unnoticed that one is looking at one’s own reflection or image in a mirror. Or one notices it. One “knows” it is one’s own image or reflection one is looking at in the mirror.
At the erotic metaphorical level: It goes unnoticed to whoever is looking at his or her beloved that he or she is really looking at him or herself and not at his or her beloved. Or one notices it, i.e., one recognizes that one is really looking at one’s own image or reflection in one’s beloved.
There are further questions we need to address.
What is the relationship between the original self on this side of the mirror and his or her image reflected on the other side of the mirror? Can it escape us that we are looking at ourselves when we are looking in the mirror? If we usually see our own reflection in the mirror, i.e., our own image, what happens when we do not recognize the reflection in the mirror as our image? What is the relationship between ourselves and the others? What is the relationship between oneself, in love, and the other with whom one has fallen in love? How can we really understand that the other, with whom we are in love, is nothing but the mirror of ourselves?  What brings about this identification:— the other=the self?  What is the ontological status of the other, if what he represents, stands for and means: is me?  When we say: you are my everything, are we saying: you and I are the same or you do not exist except through me? You are nothing but a projection of me.
The simile ὥσπερ δὲ ἐν κατόπτρῳ is explained by the and/καί. “And whenever the lover is present, like him he ceases from his pain, and whenever he is absent, like him he is filled with yearning such as he inspires.” καὶ ὅταν μὲν ἐκεῖνος παρῇ, by the lover’s παρουσία, πάρειμι, he [ὁρῶν] ceases from his pain κατὰ ταὐτὰ, tουτέστι τὰ αὐτὰ πάσχει, as Hermias writes.  On the other hand and on the contrary, whenever the lover is absent, ὅταν δὲ ἀπῇ, ἀπουσία, ἄπειμι, he [ὁρῶν] is filled with yearning such as he inspires, ποθεῖ καὶ ποθεῖται, κατὰ ταὐτὰ, sc. τὰ αὐτὰ πάσχει.
Hermias says that to love comes out of seeing, and also the irradiations of the soul make their appearances through the eyes, ἐκ τοῦ ὁρᾶν γίνεται τὸ ἐρᾶν, καὶ αἱ ἐλλάμψεις τῆς ψυχῆς διὰ τῶν ὀμμάτων ἐμφαίνονται, 202, 6. We would like to point out yet another aspect of similarity between seeing and loving. In order to see ourselves in the mirror, we must fulfil certain prerequisites.
We need to be spatially oriented towards the mirror, the mirror must be in a certain given position [not back to front], we need to be at a certain distance and the mirror also has to be manipulated in order to reflect perfectly what we want to see, for instance when the barber shows us how he has cut our hair. Consequently, mirrors at a distance far removed from us, mirrors kept in drawers and standing inside closets, or in certain other places, positions and orientations, cannot reflect our images, are blind to us.
There is yet another prerequisite beyond spatial coordination, i.e., synchronization.
When I see myself in a mirror, both the mirror and I must be co-present. The spatial coordination must be synchronized even if only for a moment in time. The kind of synchronization at stake here does not bring about a mere coincidence. It goes beyond the simultaneity of at least two events. It is a noetic concept. We can be in front of a mirror without looking at ourselves or even recognizing us being “there” in the mirror. We can interpret an image in a mirror as something totally independent, maybe because we can confuse the mirror with a window to reality, or simply because we do not recognize ourselves reflected in the mirror.

Consider, for instance, the story told by Ernst Mach. He tells of when he got on a bus: “I see a man approaching , coming from the opposite  direction. “‘What a worn out schoolmaster’, I thought. It was me, for in front of me stood a big mirror.” ("'Was für ein herabgekommener Schulmeister', dachte Ich. Ich war es selbst, denn mir gegenüber befand sich ein großer Spiegel". MACH, Ernst, Die Analyse der Empfindungen, 7.Auflage, Jena, 1919, p. 3, n. I [quoted by Herrmann Schmitz in Husserl und Heidegger, Bouvier, Bonn, 1996, p. 20].

And so it is that I can only see myself in the mirror when I recognize the image reflected in the mirror as a reflection of my own image. “Presence” is what synchronizes the reflection in the mirror and me. It is what makes the reflection in the mirror present to me. It is what makes me present to my mind. It is what allows the me to recognize the reflection in the mirror as my image.
When I look away or do not pay any attention to my image in the mirror, for example when I am at the barbers and get mentally absent, presumably my image reflected in the mirror is still there, but remains disconnected from me. When I move away from the mirror, the reflected image fades way. So it is of no use, as we have learned during childhood, trying to fool mirrors. We can never look at a mirror without seeing our image, just as ghosts presumably do not show in mirrors. As soon as we look into the mirror we see ourselves, and even if we look away from the mirror very fast, our image vanishes or is still there. The presence/absence game we unfold in front of a mirror bears the same chronologically-sized structure love bears.
Our image reflected in the mirror lasts and remains there in front of us only during the time we are both synchronized. As soon as the interception fails, and thus the synchronization, the image fades way and ceases to be, even if we still see the mirror not reflecting our image.
In the Respublica, 596d5-e4: With a mirror, we are “able to make all these things in a way […] (κἂν αὐτὸς οἷός τ’ εἴης πάντα ταῦτα ποιῆσαι) and do it most quickly” (τάχιστα δέ που) if one “take[s] a mirror and carries it about everywhere (λαβὼν κάτοπτρον περιφέρειν πανταχῇ). These things are “the sun and all the things in the sky, and speedily the earth and yourself (ταχὺ δὲ σαυτόν) and the other animals and implements and plants and all the objects of which we just now spoke.” In a certain way, τρόπῳ γέ τινι, means “the appearance of them, but not the reality and the truth.” (φαινόμενα, οὐ μέντοι ὄντα γέ που τῇ ἀληθείᾳ.)
A similar turnabout is presented in the First Alcibiades. The mirror simile enables Socrates to explain the conversion needed in order to apprehend the meaning of the admonition “know thyself”. He starts with the supposition that, “instead of speaking to a man, it said to the eye of one of us, as a piece of advice, “See thyself,”. “The eye should look at that by looking at what it would see itself, εἰς τοῦτο βλέπειν, εἰς ὃ βλέπων ὁ ὀφθαλμὸς ἔμελλεν αὑτὸν ἰδεῖν 132d7-8. This interpretation is based upon the reflection that whatever being we are looking at, we simultaneously see ourselves,  Ἐννοῶμεν δὴ εἰς τί βλέποντες τῶν ὄντων ἐκεῖνό (e.) τε ὁρῷμεν ἅμα ἂν καὶ ἡμᾶς αὐτούς;
So “the face of the person who looks into another's eye is shown in the eye in front of him, as in a mirror, and we call this the pupil, for in a way it is an image of the person looking. (a.) ὀφθαλμὸν τὸ πρόσωπον ἐμφαίνεται ἐν τῇ τοῦ καταντικρὺ ὄψει ὥσπερ ἐν κατόπτρῳ, ὃ δὴ καὶ κόρην καλοῦμεν, εἴδωλον ὄν τι τοῦ ἐμβλέποντος; 132e-133a; an eye viewing another eye, and looking at the most perfect part of it, the thing wherewith it sees, will thus see itself (…) But if it looks at any other thing in man or at anything in nature but what resembles this, it will not see itself. (…) Then if an eye is to see itself, it must look at an eye, and at that region of the eye in which the virtue of an eye is found to occur… sight, ὄψις.
(…) “And if the soul too, is to know itself, it must surely look at a soul, and especially at that region of it in which occurs the virtue of a soul, καὶ ψυχὴ εἰ μέλλει γνώσεσθαι αὑτήν, εἰς ψυχὴν αὐτῇ βλεπτέον, καὶ μάλιστ’ εἰς τοῦτον αὐτῆς τὸν τόπον ἐν ᾧ ἐγγίγνεται ἡ ψυχῆς ἀρετή —wisdom, and at any other part of a soul which resembles this, καὶ εἰς ἄλλο ᾧ τοῦτο τυγχάνει ὅμοιον ὄν (…) [t]hen this part of it resembles God, and whoever looks at this, and comes to know all that is divine, will gain thereby the best knowledge of himself.
To know ourselves implies looking away from the image of the pupil of the eye in the mirror in front of (and outside) us and looking into that region of the soul which is more divine. If anybody looks into this region, τις εἰς τοῦτο βλέπων, he is also able to recognize everything that is divine, πᾶν τὸ θεῖον γνούς, and, is therefore capable of recognizing and knowing his true self, οὕτω καὶ ἑαυτὸν ἂν γνοίη μάλιστα. So looking at God and making use of this most beautiful internal mirror and also looking at the soul’s excellence, we are thus very capable of seeing and recognizing ourselves in the way we truly are.   {ΣΩ.} Εἰς τὸν θεὸν ἄρα βλέποντες ἐκείνῳ καλλίστῳ ἐνόπτρῳ χρῴμεθ’ ἂν καὶ τῶν ἀνθρωπίνων εἰς τὴν ψυχῆς @1 ἀρετήν, καὶ οὕτως ἂν μάλιστα ὁρῷμεν καὶ γιγνώσκοιμεν (15) ἡμᾶς αὐτούς.

So if on a first level, love is reduced to the beauty perceived by the senses, whoever looks at beauty on this sensory level is blind to catching a glimpse of true beauty, the real one, perceived by the heart. This kind of love is based exclusively upon the image of beauty. The beloved is just a projection of the lover. The beloved receives his existence through the eyes of the lover. And the lover too gets his existence as a lover through the existence of his beloved.  As in the Respublica, this kind of love inevitably shelters pleasures commingled with pains, mere “images [sc. phantoms] of true pleasure εἴδωλα τῆς ἀληθοῦς ἡδονῆς”. It was τὸ τῆς Ἑλένης εἴδωλον that was fought for at Troy, through ignorance of the truth, περιμάχητον ἀγνοίᾳ τοῦ ἀληθοῦς, according to Stesichorus.[3]

V.
This brings us to the last part of our passage. “…ὥσπερ δὲ ἐν κατόπτρῳ ἐν τῷ ἐρῶντι ἑαυτὸν ὁρῶν λέληθεν. καὶ ὅταν μὲν ἐκεῖνος παρῇ, λήγει κατὰ ταὐτὰ ἐκείνῳ τῆς ὀδύνης, ὅταν δὲ ἀπῇ, κατὰ ταὐτὰ αὖ ποθεῖ καὶ ποθεῖται, εἴδωλον ἔρωτος ἀντέρωτα ἔχων. (…he sees himself in his lover as in a mirror, but is not conscious of the fact. And in the lover's presence, like him he ceases from his pain, and in his absence, like him he is filled with yearning such as he inspires, and love's image, requited love, dwells within him.) Phaedrus, 255d3-e1.”

If we read this passage, before the recantation, we have a game of mirrors. The representation of each lover is mirrored in the other. The lovers mirror each other. Each lover shows and reflects the other. If we are like mirrors making, representing and reflecting life and the world, other people, ourselves and even the gods (like in the Republic), by way of falling in love we multiply by two the number of mirrors available. Each lover is like a mirror turned inside out to his beloved. If there is a matching the other sees himself in me as I see myself in the other. Each lover therefore has the power to create the other by the look of love. The other represents everything to me. One exists only through the other. On the other hand, it is as if our own mirror were displaced from where it lies in us to where the other exists. Each lover exists somehow where the other is. Each lover is somehow the other.
It is this whole situation that escapes notice, for it is surely strange to say that lovers are totally in love not with others but themselves.
If this hypothesis holds true, lovers must be in perpetual contact with each other, for being apart from each other would mean being apart from their selves. Falling and being in love would make us disintegrate from ourselves. And so “in the lover's presence, like him he ceases from his pain, and in his absence, like him he is filled with yearning such as he inspires, and love's image, requited love, dwells within him. Phaedrus, 255d3-e1.”
On this level it is “love's image, requited love, [that] dwells within him, εἴδωλον ἔρωτος ἀντέρωτα ἔχων.” The beloved is but love’s image, εἴδωλον ἔρωτος. The Ἀντέρως, the return-love or love-for-love (even if understood in a negative way as the god who avenged slighted love or the god who struggled against Ἔρως or his rival in love) is ontologically on the same level, i.e. it matches not ἔρως, but the εἴδωλον ἔρωτος. εἴδωλα τῆς ἀληθοῦς ἡδονῆς and ἀγνοίᾳ τοῦ ἀληθοῦς are equivalent. Both ἐρασταί and ἐρώμενοι, ἐρᾶν and ἐράσθαι, are intrinsically bound. So when one falls and is in love, one is really filled with yearning for the image of oneself. One would be like Homer in love with Helen and one’s life lived like in a siege and in the most complete ignorance of the situation one was in.
On the other hand, we can be fully aware of the situation. Adoring ourselves through the other is only a consequence of our sinful thinking. Self-idolatry is the outcome of an usurpation. The divine character of love is destroyed. God’s place is seized and held in possession by us. This is how Hermias interprets the lover’s ἀπορεῖν. One is in love but does not understand with whom, ὅτου δὲ ἀπορεῖ. Recantation would revert the situation not in the sense that we would finally be in love with the other and not with his image, nor in the sense that we would be in love with our selves and not with our own images.
Recantation can only be possible if we utterly change the way we are, and therewith the way we interpret love. This would mean changing the λανθάνεσθαι into an ἀληθεύειν in order to unveil the confusion between the εἴδωλον and the ἑαυτόν. For this to happen, we need to interpret the true meaning of love διὰ τοῦ ἀπορεῖν: τὸ τοῦ ἔρωτος ἡνωμένον καὶ ὑπερφυὲς. Through this vision we love and because we, the lovers, are severed from our selves, ἀποτετεμαχισμένοι ὄντες, our selves are also filled with yearning for their own integrity, the ὁλότης ἑαυτῶν [201]. The lovers would see each other as they are through the Presence of the God of love. Each would be, not the image projected of the other, but God’s project for themselves. ἐπειδὴ καὶ πρωτουργὸν αἴτιόν ἐστι τοῦ ἀντέρωτος ὁ ἔρως. 
And in the lover's presence, like him he ceases from his pain, and in his absence, like him he is filled with yearning such as he inspires, and love's image, requited love, dwells within him;
According to Hermias Plato shows that one ought to distance oneself from this kind of love and beauty, δεῖ τούτου μὲν ἀποστῆναι τοῦ ἔρωτος καὶ κάλλους. One should instead to turn to this god-possessed love, the only kind of love that uplifts one towards the beauty perceived by the heart. There alone lies truth according to the god, περιάγειν δὲ ἑαυτὸν ἐπὶ τὸν ἐνθουσιαστικὸν καὶ ἀναγωγὸν ἔρωτα <καὶ> ἐπὶ τὸ νοητὸν κάλλος καὶ τὴν ἐν τῷ ὃ ἔστιν αὐτὴν ἀλήθειαν τὴν ὡς θεὸν, ὥς φησιν ἐν τῇ παλινῳδίᾳ. This process is a complete reversal of the situation, ἀναστρέφεσθαι.
And still, Epigram 15 Attributed to Plato en Diehl’s Edition (E. Diehl, Anthologia lyrica Graeca, fasc. 1, 3rd edn. Leipzig: Teubner, 1949: 102-110.) reads:

Fr. 15: Ἡ σοβαρὸν γελάσασα καθ’ Ἑλλάδος, ἥ<περ> ἐραστῶν ἑσμὸν ἐνὶ προθύροις Λαῒς ἔχουσα νέων, τῆι Παφίηι τὸ κάτοπτρον, ἐπεὶ τοίη μὲν ὁρᾶσθαι οὐκ ἐθέλω, οἵη δ’ ἦν πάρος οὐ δύναμαι. (“I, Laïs, who laughed so disdainfully at Greece and once kept a swarm of young lovers at my door, dedicates this mirror to the Paphian— for I do not wish to see myself as I am, and cannot see myself as I was. Translated by J.M.Edmonds, revised by John M. Cooper.”)









[1] For a) when the prophetess at Delphi and the priestesses at Dodona have been mad, they have conferred many splendid benefits upon Greece both in private and in public affairs, but few or none when they have been in their right minds; μανεῖσαι μὲν πολλὰ δὴ καὶ καλὰ ἰδίᾳ τε καὶ δημοσίᾳ τὴν Ἑλλάδα ἠργάσαντο, σωφρονοῦσαι δὲ βραχέα ἢ οὐδέν; b) The prophetic inspiration has foretold many things to many persons and thereby made them fortunate afterwards, πολλὰ δὴ πολλοῖς προλέγοντες εἰς τὸ μέλλον ὤρθωσαν. c) The very name μανία is neither shameful nor disgraceful, οὐκ αἰσχρὸν οὐδὲ ὄνειδος, otherwise the very word mania would not have been connected with the noblest of arts, that which foretells the future, ᾗ τὸ μέλλον κρίνεται, by calling it the manic art, μαντική. 244a8-c5.

[2] τὴν <δὲ> δευτέραν ἕξιν πρῶτον μὲν καὶ ἐξ ἀρχῆς τῷ αἰσθητῷ κάλλει ὡς τῷ πρώτῳ κάλλει καὶ ὄντως ὄντι πιστεύσασαν, ὕστερον δὲ ἀναμνησθεῖσαν ἐντεῦθεν καὶ ἐπὶ τὸ νοητὸν ἀναπεμφθεῖσαν κάλλος [διὸ καὶ ἀναβλέψαι], κατὰ τὸν μολυνθέντα μὲν καὶ βλαβέντα, αἰσθόμενον μέντοι καὶ ἰασάμενον, ἧς ὁ Στησίχορος εἰκὼν ἐλήφθη·

[3] And are not the pleasures with which they dwell inevitably commingled with pains, phantoms of true pleasure, illusions of scene-painting, so colored by contrary juxtaposition […] ike Stesichorus says the wraith of Helen2 was fought for at Troy through ignorance of the truth?” Ἆρ’ οὖν οὐκ ἀνάγκη καὶ ἡδοναῖς συνεῖναι μεμειγμέναις λύπαις, εἰδώλοις τῆς ἀληθοῦς ἡδονῆς καὶ ἐσκιαγραφημέναις,ὑπὸ τῆς παρ’ ἀλλήλας θέσεως ἀποχραινομέναις, ὥστε σφοδροὺς ἑκατέρας φαίνεσθαι, καὶ ἔρωτας ἑαυτῶν λυττῶντας τοῖς ἄφροσιν ἐντίκτειν καὶ περιμαχήτους εἶναι, ὥσπερ τὸ τῆς Ἑλένης εἴδωλον ὑπὸ τῶν ἐν Τροίᾳ Στησίχορός φησι γενέσθαι περιμάχητον ἀγνοίᾳ τοῦ ἀληθοῦς; 586b7-c5

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