Ultimately, Aristotle's Nichomachean Ethics provide different discourses on the different kinds of love, and through Socrates' conversation with Diotima, it is concluded that through love, in the purest and most powerful form, men may arrive at the highest good.
In Plato's symposium, different speeches in praise of Eros was given about how great a god he is. Phaedrus began by saying how Eros was a great god, and went on to explain that love, above everything else, is the driving force of man in living a good life. He goes on to justify that love in its superior form, is one wherein a lover is willling to die for another, citing the case of Alcestis, the daughter of Pelias, who was willing to die to be able to gain entrance to the underworld to be with her lover (Plato 179c).
Pausanias spoke about love of the "common" and "heavenly" kind. The common love is that which falls on ove with the body rather than the mind, and is concerned with merely the sexual act, while the heavenly love is that is free from lust, and is based on friendship and a lifetime together (Plato 180e). Pausanias also claimed that open love is better than secret love. He concludes by saying that love does not come in only one form, and love is neither right nor wrong as well, but only depends on how it is done.
Eryximachus approves the dualities presented by Pausanias yet he attempts to reconcile the physical and spiritual kind of love, and in respect to his profession, cites the human anatomy and physiology as an example. He claims that just like the body, there are good and healthy elements that need to be satisfied, while there are bad and unhealthy elements that need to be kept away from (Plato 186c).
Aristophanes, on the other hand, relates love to the myth that says that originally, the human being had four legs, four hands, two heads, etc. and that it was just then divided into male and female, that is why in love, two people would come together and unite as one body and one soul (Plato 190). Agathon, however, argued that love is from where all things are created.
All these arguments eventually lead to the summation of all their arguments that are better said in the encounter of Socrates with Diotima. What Diotima basically preaches is that as there are many forms of love, it is neither beautiful nor good, and is neither ugly nor bad. As such, it does not really follow that what is not beautiful is ugly and that what is not bad is good (Plato 202b). In a nutshell, true happiness is found in true beauty, which is, as the clich goes, in the eyes of the beholder, and is recognized only by the mind. This powerful and purest form of love, according to Diotima, is the highest form of happiness that which man aims for.
If Plato's Symposium speaks about happiness in the pursuit of love, Arostitle's Nicomahcean Ethics discusses ethics and virtue in the pursuit of happiness. The Nichomachean Ethics of Aristotle begins with the premise that "every art and every inquiry, and similarly every action and choice, is thought to aim at some good; and for this reason, the good has rightly been declared to be that at which all things aim." (Aristotle 363)
Aristotle poses that there are different goods for which different people aim for, yet at the end of it all, it is happines that is being pursued. Furthermore, Aristotle focuses his Nichomachean ethics on virtues and that for a person to be able to succeed in his aims to