In the third book of Plato’s Republic, Socrates has a dialogue about the nature of love between a man and a boy. He primarily claims that the man should love the boy for the boy’s benefit, but without sexual relations. In other words, there stands a “noble” love that contributes to the education of the young boy, and this should not include a sexual element, which only corrupts the relationship between the two.
One main idea that relates to the author’s argument is the nature of education. Socrates envisions a goal, the mature and developed young man, who grows from a boy into a solid member of society. This constitutes his vision for interpersonal relationships, education, and the overall health of the city or polis. Socrates also incorporates means. That is, the love of the older man is the means by which this young boy matures. Yet this includes a moral element.
The ethical idea that relates to Socrates’ argument pertains to the type of love between the man and the boy. This should be, he claim, affection, strong, pure, and faithful, even passionate. However, this love should not include sexual or erotic ingredients. This type of love, he says, will corrupt the boy; thus, they would be unethical because they do not contribute to his educational goal.
I would agree with Socrates, that the love between a man and boy should exclude sexual relations. And I agree that a strong bond of love can properly mature a youth. However, there are contextual matters of our societies that make this issue difficult to discuss. Erotic relations with boys was more acceptable in ancient Greece, but they are seen as disgusting today. However, I want to primarily affirm Socrates’ point, that in order to educate a young man, an older man must love him well.