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Lecture 1: Introduction to Erōs, Socrates and The Symposium.

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1 Lecture 1: Introduction to Erōs, Socrates and The Symposium

2 WkLectureSeminar 1General introduction 2Intro passagesIntro, Phaedrus and Pausanius Phaedrus, Pausanius 3Eryximachus, AristophanesEryximachus, Aristophanes, Agathon Agathon, Socrates and Agathon 4Socrates and Diotima 5 6 7Alcibiades Alcibiades; problem of erōs 8Analysis: erōsPlato and Freud Analysis: erastes and erōmenos 9Analysis: Plato’s methodKant, Nietzsche and aesthetic rationalism Analysis: Beauty and the Good 10Plato’s PhaedrusPlato’s Phaedrus; Plato and Aristotle Plato’s Phaedrus; erōs in Aristotle

3 Today’s Lecture Introduction to erōs – Erōs opposed to reason (Phaedo, The Republic) – Erōs allied with reason (erotic dialogues) Introduction to Socrates and erōs – Socrates’ task (The Apology) – Socratic irony – Socrates’ critique of knowledge – Philosophy as a way of life Introduction to The Symposium Importance of The Symposium – Freud – Nietzsche and aesthetic rationalism

4 Part 1: Introduction to (the Problem of) Eros Greek words for love: erōs, philia and agape Introducing the relation between erōs and philosophy Opposition between body and soul (Phaedo) Desire as a political problem (Republic) Erōs characterised as a tyrant (Republic) ‘Erotic dialogues’ Erōs and agape

5 Greek words for love Erōs – primarily sexual love Philia – familial love and friendship Agape – New Testament love

6 Socrates & Simmias discuss sexual pleasures (Phaedo) “So it is clear first of all in the case of physical pleasures that the philosopher frees his soul from association with the body, so far as is possible, to a greater extent than other men.” (64e-65a)

7 Socrates & Simmias discuss sexual pleasures (Phaedo) “the man who pursues the truth by applying his pure and unadulterated thought to the pure and unadulterated object, cutting himself off as much as possible from his eyes and ears and virtually all the rest of his body, as an impediment which by its presence prevents the soul from attaining to truth and clear thinking” (66a)

8 Desire as a political problem (The Republic) ““Don’t talk about that; I am glad to have left it behind me and escaped from a fierce and frenzied master.” A good reply I thought then, and still do. For in old age you become quite free of feelings of this sort and they leave you in peace; and when your desires lose their intensity and relax, you get what Sophocles was talking about, a release from a lot of mad masters (329b-d).

9 Erōs characterised as a tyrant (The Republic) “The other desires buzz round it, loading it with incense and perfume, flowers and wine, and all the pleasures of a dissolute life, on which they feed and fatten it until at last they produce in it the sting of mania. Then the master passion runs wild and takes madness into its service; any opinions or desires with a decent reputation and any feelings of shame still left are killed or thrown out, until all discipline is swept away, and madness usurps its place.” “A very complete description of the genesis of the tyrannical man.” “Isn’t this the reason,” I asked, “why the passion of sex has for so long been called a tyrant?” (Book 9, 573a-b).

10 Four features of the ‘erotic dialogues’ I.Passionate desire for wisdom and beauty II.Lacks wisdom and beauty III.Skilled in the search for wisdom and beauty IV.Helps others search for wisdom and beauty

11 Erōs vs. Agape Focus is on man’s love for the supremely good Hard to distinguish man’s happiness from the good Man loves excellence and beauty Man cannot do anything without the desire for good Plato shows the way out of corruption towards happiness Focus is on God’s love for man God is an independent being God does not love us for our excellence or beauty God has no need for us Salvation is not in our hands

12 Erōs vs. Agape We should devote our time to what is excellent and reject what is worthless Self-assertion is necessary in order to think, act and perfect ourselves This distinction is not possible because God loves without discriminating Self-assertion is grotesque and to be avoided

13 Recap: Part 1 3 Greek words for love (why erōs?) Plato transforms the concept of erōs (ultimately leads us to the contemplation of Beauty) Examples of conflict between erōs and philosophy in Plato (Phaedo, The Republic) Four features are common to the ‘erotic dialogues’ Comparing erōs and agape (man and the supremely good)

14 Part 2: Introduction to Erōs, Socrates and the Philosopher Socrates’ philosophical task (The Apology) Socrates’ ignorance Socratic irony Goal of Socratic method: aporia Role of the interlocutor The philosopher and erotic art in The Symposium Philosophy as a way of life (tragic and ironic) Emphasising the erotic: erōs is bound up with everything

15 Mythological account of erōs (Symposium) ““Because he is the son of Resource and Poverty, Love’s situation is like this. First of all, he’s always poor; far from being sensitive and beautiful, as is commonly supposed, he’s tough, with hardened skin, without shoes or home. He always sleeps rough, on the ground, with no bed, lying in doorways and by roads in the open air; sharing his mother’s nature, he always lives in a state of need. On the other hand, taking after his father, he schemes to get hold of beautiful and good things. He’s brave, impetuous and intense; a formidable hunter, always weaving tricks; he desires knowledge and is resourceful in getting it; a lifelong lover of wisdom; clever at using magic, drugs and sophistry” (230c-d).

16 “neither of us has any knowledge to boast of, but he thinks that he knows something which he does not know, whereas I am quite conscious of my ignorance. At any rate it seems that I am wiser than he is to this small extent, that I do not think that I know what I do not know” (Apology, 21d).

17 Recap: Part 2 Socrates’ task: to find someone wiser than himself Paradoxical claim: he’s wise because he doesn’t claim to know what he doesn’t know Socratic method: – Claims not to know anything – Socratic irony (‘2 Socrates’) – Identifying with Socrates/aporia – ‘2 interlocutors’ Philosopher in The Symposium – Daimon described like Socrates – Existential status: halfway point – Philosophy as a way of life: ultimately, the real problem is not what we claim to know, but our way of being

18 Part 3: Introduction to The Symposium and it’s importance Questions to ask when reading The Symposium No comprehensive theory of love Speeches (no elenchus) Figure of Diotima Method of approaching the Forms Lack of a locus of authority (Plato) How to evaluate the speeches Importance of the dialogue – Freud – Kant, Nietzsche and aesthetic rationalism

19 How to evaluate the speeches? What are the objects of erōs? What is the effect on us of pursuing these objects? How does this pursuit affect our relations with others?

20 Freud “As for the ‘stretching’ of the concept of sexuality…anyone who looks down with contempt on psychoanalysis from a superior vantage point should remember how closely the enlarged sexuality of psychoanalysis coincides with the Erōs of the divine Plato.” (‘Three Essays on the Theory of Sexuality’)

21 Next Lecture Introduction Phaedrus Pausanius

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