The Symposium

The Symposium

Book - 1999
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In the course of a lively drinking party, a group of Athenian intellectuals exchange views on eros , or desire. From their conversation emerges a series of subtle reflections on gender roles, sex in society and the sublimation of basic human instincts. The discussion culminates in a radical challenge to conventional views by Plato's mentor, Socrates, who advocates transcendence through spiritual love. The Symposium is a deft interweaving of different viewpoints and ideas about the nature of love - as a response to beauty, a cosmic force, a motive for social action and as a means of ethical education. Christopher Gill's translation retains all the drama and humour of the Greek, bringing the historical figures to life. His introduction discusses aspects of classical Athenian life shown in The Symposium and provides thoughtful examinations of the individual speeches.
Publisher: London : Penguin Books, 1999.
ISBN: 9780140449273
Characteristics: xlvi, 89, [1] p. --
Additional Contributors: Gill, Christopher 1946-


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Jan 02, 2015

Very beautiful philosophy and writing, now among my top 10 favorite philosophical works, up there with J.S. Mill's "On Liberty", Soren Kierkegaard's "Fear and Trembling", and various works of Zhuang Zi.

Plato beautifully, in his allegorical style, provides a "positive", "optimistic", descriptive account of love, our desire for love, and the benefits of love (and sex).

"The Symposium" is clearly Plato's preference universalized, which might paint Plato out to be a "champion" of homosexuality, but an open mind while reading this brilliant work will show there is more than enough evidence for a position which speaks of love and sex in plain terms, for ALL humans and their human sex partners, making it extremely valuable and insightful for all.

Interestingly because of this work Plato is seen by scholars to have a positive or "optimistic" account of love and sex, but in his last and longest work "Laws", it does not appear that that is the case, and some suggest that he withdraws his support for homosexuality altogether...I bring this up just because the two works would make for a good comparison...I still like "the Symposium" better... :)

I find this a necessary read for all philosophers, but even more so for those interested in the morality of love and sex or for those philosophers who are generally interested in the role of emotions within morality and motivation...

I think it would be very interesting, and beneficial, to compare Plato's positive or "optimistic" account of love and sex with other thinker's "negative" or "pessimistic" accounts of love and sex such as those such presented by Immanuel Kant, Marquis de Sade, and Sigmund Freud, or even a comparison with an evolutionary/biological/psychological account of love.

I believe Iris Murdoch and Gabrielle Taylor have also spilt quite a bit of ink on the topic of love and sex but I believe their accounts are like Plato's, positive accounts...


Multcolib_Research May 23, 2013

"In his celebrated masterpiece Plato imagines a high-society dinner-party in Athens in 416 BC. The guests--including the comic poet Aristophanes and Plato's mentor Socrates--each deliver a short speech in praise of love. The sequence of dazzling speeches culminates in Socrates famous account of the views of Diotima, a prophetess who taught him that love is our means of trying to attain goodness, and a brilliant sketch of Socrates himself by a drunken Alcibiades, the most popular and notorious Athenian of the time." (385 B.C.?)

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