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.