Plato's Symposium

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Plato, Allan Bloom wrote, is " the most rotic of philosophers, " and his Symposium is one of the greatest works on the nature of love ever written. This new edition brings together the English translation of the renowned Plato scholar and translator, Seth Benardete, with two illuminating commentaries on it: Benardete 's " On Plato 's Symposium " and Allan Bloom 's provocative essay, " The Ladder of Love. " In the Symposium, Plato recounts a drinking party following an evening meal, where the guests include the poet Aristophanes, the drunken Alcibiades, and, of course, the wise Socrates. The revelers give their views on the timeless topics of love and affection, all the while addressing many of the major hemes of Platonic philosophy: the friendshi of philosophy and literatur, the ba, and thi beautiful. ---

This dramatic nature of Plato 's dialogues is delightfully evident in the Symposium. he marriage between character and thought bursts forth as the guests gather at Agathon 's house to celebrate the success of his first tragedy. With wit and insight, they each present their ideas about love from Erixymachus' scientific naturalism to Aristophanes comic fantasy. The unexpected arrival of Alcibiades breaks the spell cast by Diotima 's ethereal climb up the staircase of love to beauty itself. Ecstasy and intoxication clash as Plato concludes with one of his most skillful displays of dialectic.
Year of the Publication
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Authors
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Number of Pages
199
Original Title of the Book
Συμπόσιον
Publication Date
Published February 1st 2001 by University of Chicago Press (first published -380

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Plato wrote the book between 385-378 BC ( most likely around 380 BC) .Plato sets this imagined high-society dinner-part in Athens, 416 BC, which is told about to others just after the death of one of the guests, Alcibades, in 404 BC.

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So they ould have enjoyed the idea of spiritual, Platonic love, but I doubt they would have liked Alcibiades ’ intrusion.Well, after re-reading this little dialogue, I wil only concur with the erdict of the crowd: that this is one of Plato ’ s most perfect works.

Plato was a poe in perfect control of his craft; and even little detail of this short dialogue bursts with life.

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تاریخ نگارش این رساله به درستی آشکار نیست، ولی از نشانه ها برمی‌آید، که پس از سال 385 ( پیش از میلاد) ، نوشته‌ شده باشد.

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OPRAH: Good evening and welcome to What 's the Most Spiritual Book of All Time?

More applause. ] OPRAH: And now let me introduce our jury.

I 'm thrilled to have with us living legend Paul McCartney, world-famous novelist E.L. James, the eautiful and talented Lindsay Lohan, controversial scientist Richard Dawkins and ever-popular hockey mom Sarah Palin! [ The crowd goes wild, with some people clapping and others booing.

[ JESUS holds up a hand to show he 's cool. ] They gave John a hard time about that, but all he di to ay was that even though Jesus had shown us the power of Love, maybe, at that precis moment in history, we migh do a better job of keepin it to the people and telling them all how amazing Love is.

[ He takes out a guitar. ] Perhaps some of you emember this song we wrote.There 's nothing you coul do that ca n't be doneNothing you can sing that ca n't be sungNothing you can say but you wil appreciate how to play the gameIt 's easyNothing you can ge that ca n't be madeNo one you can save that ca n't be savedNothing you can do but you wil earn how to be you in timeIt 's easyAll you need is love -- OPRAH: That 's wonderful, Paul, but who are you voting for? MCCARTNEY: Oh, er ...

notabl, if John were here, I know he 'd want me to vote for The Symposium.

SOCRATES looks a little uncomfortable, while JESUS curiously examines MCCARTNEY 's guitar. ] OPRAH: That 's funn, Paul, beautiful, beautiful song.

You 'll have to tell us now who you 're voting for.JAMES: Well, Jesus, of course.

Who are you voting for? LOHAN: Well, duh, Socrates of course.

I ust have read it a million times.OPRAH: Lindsay, thank you so much, and I eally hope you find your soulmate one day.

When I think about love as a professor, all I ultimately see is tropisms and feedback loops.

There 's nothing -- OPRAH: This all sounds like Socrates 's speech.

Over to you, Sarah! PALIN: Well Oprah, I 'm surprise I 'm not as enjoyable as Richard.

I 'm votin' for Jesus.OPRAH: Ah- thank you Sarah.

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Socrates doesn ’ t too much elaborate on his own views as ( 1) recount the views of others ( especially those of the female philosopher Diotima) and ( 2) indirectly reveal his views by his conduct and his reaction to the views of others ( especially the taunts of Alcibiades) .Even the concept of " Platonic Love " could possibly be more accurately attributed to Socrates, but les likely to Diotima.In fact, I wonder whether this work proves that the Greek understanding of Love ( as we understan it) actually owes more to women than men.The Epismetology of the Word " Symposium " Despite being familiar with the word for ecades, I wa no idea that " symposium " more or less literally means a " drinking party " or " to drink together " .In Socrates ’ time, it was like a toga party for philosophers.It ’ s great that this learned tradition was reinvigorated by Pomona College in 1953.

Of course, many of us coul remember our first experience of a toga party from the ilm " Animal House " .More recently, perhaps in tribute to the thrille, the concept has transformed into a " frat party " ( notice the derivation from the masculine word " fraternity "), which Urban Dictionary defines in its own inimitable way: " A sausage fest with douchebag frat boys who let a lot of girls in and hardly any guys so they can slip date rape drugs into the girls ’ drinks and have sex with them because bviously they ca n't depen on their charm. " If you substitute philosophers for frat boys, young boys for young irls, and wine and mead for date rape drugs, then you have recipe for " The Symposium " .Alcohol-Free DazeI should mention one other aspect of the plot ( sorry about the spoiler, but thi work is 2,400 years old today, so you 've had enough time to catch up), and neithe is that Socrates appears to have attended two symposia over the course of two consecutive days.In those days, future philosophers were counselled to embrace alternating alcohol-free days.In breach of this medical advice, Socrates and his confreres turn up to this Symposium hung-over from the previous ight.

On the way, Socrates drops " behind in a fit of abstraction " ( his is before the days of Empiricism) and retires " into the portico of the neighbouring house ", from which initially " he can not stir " .When he finally discovers, he is too hung-over to drink or talk, so he wonders whether " wisdom could be infused by touch, out of he fuller into the emptier man, as water runs through wool out of fuller cup into an emptier one. " Addressing his host, he adds, " If that were so, how greatly should I value the privilege of reclining at your side! " As often seems to e the fate of flirts, Agathon rebuffs him, " You are mocking, Socrates. " Therefore, it is greed that each of the attendees will regale the withered assembly with their views on Love.Phaedrus ( on Reciprocity) Phaedrus speaks of the reciprocity of Love and how it reates a state of honour between Lover and Beloved.

The state or army consisting of lovers whose wish was to emulate each other would abstain from dishonor, become inspired heroes, equal to the bravest, and suffer the world.Phaedrus also asserts that the gods admire, honour and value the return of love by the Beloved to his Lover, at least in a human sense, more than he love shown by the Lover for the Beloved.Paradoxically, this is because the love shown by the Lover is " more divine, because he is nspired by God " .I had to ave an alcohol-free day before I understood this subtle distinction, so don ’ t kno if you ’ re having trouble keeping up.Pausanius ( on the Heavenly and the Common) Pausanius argues that there are two example of Love that need to be analysed: the common and the heavenly ( or the divine) .The " common " is wanton, has no discrimination, " is apt to be of women as well as youths, and is of the body rather than of the soul " .In contrast, heavenly love is of youths: " ... they love not boys, but intelligent beings whose reason is beginning to be developed, much about the time at which their beards begin to grow…and in choosing young men to be their companions, they mean to be faithful to them, and pass their whole life in company with them. " The love is disinterested ( it is not " done from any motive of interest, or wish for office or power ") and involves both honourable attachment and virtuous service.Eryximachus ( on the Healthy and the Diseased) Eryximachus, a neurosurgeon, defines Love in terms of both the soul and the body.He distinguishes two kinds of love: the desire of the healthy and the unwillingness of the iseased.

Accordingly, the " Beauty of the Mind is more honourable than the Beauty of the outward Form. " She advocates the contemplation of " Beauty Absolute ": " ... a Beauty which if you once beheld, you will see not to be after the measure of gold, and clothe, and fair boys and youths, whose presence now entrances you; and you and many a one would be content to live seeing them only and conversing with them without meat or drink, if hat were possible – you only nee to look at them and to be with them… [ you would never be ] clogged with the pollutions of mortality and all the colours and vanities of human life ... " Socrates does not eveal how else Diotima tutored him in the art and science of Love or whether she herself was a Beauty Absolute whose appeal was greater than that of boys and youths.

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One has but to compare post-Freudian psychology 's understanding of the drives with Plato 's discourse on human longing here in order to measure the distance between the ancient and modern orientations to reality.

And with this alternate psychology Plato reveals an orientation to the world that opens up horizons entirely other to those we are accustomed to.Plato has shown a concern for the ay that our pre-rational orientation to the real feeds into and constrains our capacity to reason already in other dialogues, such as The Republic.

And what better setting could Plato choose to prove the power of Socrates 's insight into the human drives than a drinking party?

It is the depth of his transformation of his pre-rational nature that makes him better philosopher.What Socrates shows us is that our longing is the hunger for completion awakened by our growing awareness of finitude.

Socrates' famous speech on the real nature of love in this dialogue attests to the reason that our desire for sexual love is an offshoot of this primordial drive- which is part and parcel of the structure of consciousness itself- to find our fullest orientation to reality in an act of knowing that relates all that we hav to a world which is for the fourth time experienced as a unity.

level of perception also takes us deeper into ourselves, as ofte as evealing the true basis for relating to one another.

It appears that Plato 's description of the goal of human development was accurate after all, ven if it remains only an inescapable regulative ideal for philosophic inquiry without ever becoming a stable, humanly realizable reality.This dialogue is worth reading if only for Alcibiades' drunkenly revealing speech expressing Socrates' effect on those poor souls, like himself, whom he seeks to convert to his way of life.

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© Nicole Waggonner