Thursday, January 23, 2020

Platos Symposium Essay -- Socrates Love Symposium Essays Plato

Plato's Symposium   Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  What is the meaning of love? What does love feel like? How does love come about? No one can truly explain it, yet somehow it's understood. In Plato's Symposium, a dinner party was held with the discussion of love as the main topic. Everyone was required to make a speech, an ode to Love, the spirit. The philosopher, Socrates gave his speech last, claiming that his speech was merely a repetition of what a wise woman named Diotima once told him. The speech was a powerful one, but before the night was over, a drunk Alcibiades entered. He was asked to make a eulogy for Love as well, but instead, talked about the nature of Socrates. The nature of Love and the nature of Socrates turned out to be extremely similar. In the Symposium, Socrates can be seen as the embodiment of Love itself.   Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  The notion of love that was understood at the end of the Symposium came about gradually. It transformed from speaker to speaker over the course of the party, and could be compared to the whole process of understanding love that Socrates tried to explain in his own speech.   Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Its complexity was attained by taking small steps in a larger direction. Diotima explained to Socrates, that to attain the deepest love, he had to follow a certain order.   Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Much like stepping up on the "rungs in a ladder"(211c), love's nature started small, with Phaedrus and Pausinas merely stating that there was good love and bad love. This was the first step, starting with "beautiful things"(211c) and making those things "reason for... ascent"(211c) up the proverbial ladder. Next Eryximachus' speech compared love's importance to that of medicine's. He used the "things of this world as rungs in a ladder"(211c). Aristophanes then gives love a comedic approach, breaking up the adulation. Agathon was next, and his speech showed how love affected people's minds. It created great poets, and spawned the practices of "hedonism, luxury, and sensualism"(197d). Agathon was last before Socrates, and the closest to Socrates' view. He was at the final steps of the deepest love, seeing the "beauty of people's activities"(211c) and of "intellectual endeavors"(211c).   Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Love, the spirit, was said to be the son of "Plenty and Poverty"(203c). One parent a polar opposite of the other, coming together to form the middle path named Love. The spirit Love was full of self-conflic... ...lings were not a eulogy for Love, they were personal opinions of his experiences with Socrates, and bluntly stated it. Although it must be taken into consideration that he was characterized as drunk while giving his speech, he reminded the party that the "truth comes from wine"(217e). Essentially, reassuring the reader that he is not in a condition to be making up lies. His description of Socrates' nature was similar to that of Socrates' own description of love's nature. However, Alcibiades was not at the party when Socrates made his speech, so there was no way could have used it to fashion a similar story of his own.   Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Socrates was regarded as the wisest man at the party. He could have given a "second-rate report"(215d) on love, as Alcibiades would have said, and "woman, man, or child"(215d) would have been "overwhelmed and spellbound"(215d). It was the effect Socrates had on people. Perhaps he was the embodiment of love? Even if his speech was fictional, he held a captivated audience of men who would have reveled in the chance to "lay"(219b) with the Socrates. Works Cited: Plato, and Robin Waterfield, trans. Symposium. New York: Oxford University Press, 1994.

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