Class Notes (1,100,000)
CA (630,000)
UTSG (50,000)
PHL (1,000)
Lecture 13

PHL200Y1 Lecture Notes - Lecture 13: Penia, Demigod, Ween

Course Code
Lloyd Gerson

of 3
Plato’ Symposium October 5 2015
Yildiz 1
Background for Last Lecture
Protagoras is a sophist, a sophist who holds a diluted form of relativism.
Each person or each group determines what is right or wrong for that group, diluted because Protagoras
seems to be of the view that certain kinds of group, especially those in cultural kinds in Athens, will
inevitably think that what is good and bad, what is right and wrong is in fact what is good and bad, right
or wrong.
They will not promote monsters; they won’t promote unjust policies.
Diluted because just saying it undercuts relativism, it undercuts the view that an individual person or an
individual group is determinacy of what is good and bad, right or wrong, absolute so that there is no
criticizing it, no denying it for that is it good or bad for that person at that time. Protagoras doesn’t think
There are, if you go back to the sophist section - you will see that it is a version of sophist and undiluted
relativism which promotes the idea that the majority isn’t inclined to get the right answer, and
whatever the majority says is the right answer because they are stronger.
Socrates would hold the position that virtue is not teachable by the methods that Protagoras uses by
promoting persuading so you become the majority, and the majority view is dominant hoping that
majority chooses something right.
o If virtue is indeed teachable and is different from what Protagoras thinks, namely relativisible
to each individual or each group virtue is what people say it is, if virtue is really objective,
universal isn’t determined by how people think about it, then presumably it can be teachable.
o It is not teachable in a way that you can teach Greek grammar or a skill like a technē. But
teachable perhaps in the way that Socrates goes about teaching it ironically.
This week
Socrates gives a speech given in praise of love (ἔρως érōs) and says he will report what he has learned
about érōs from Diotima.
He will report to the assembled group of what she told him, and instructed him about érōs. The word
érōs means, in Greek, it is primarily sexual in conversation but not exclusively. Socrates will say
something very extraordinary about érōs.
Side note: Aristophanes gives a speech that consists in a myth about how love arose. It is a myth about
how human beings were originally constructed, a double, and when they were showed themselves as
arrogant, they were split by Zeus, and out of pity for them; Zeus decided to allow them to search for
their other half so they could couple. Love is the search of males and females for their other halves.
Someone who can’t find his or her other half, is unhappy and someone who can is happy.
We will only focus on Socrates speech. This is not Socrates invention, although Socrates indorses it,
but we can assume that this was part of Socrates view.
o Socrates speech begins with a myth (μῦθος ! mûthos or mythos) on the birth of érōs.
o The implied contrast between dialogues is between mûthos and logos mûthos is story and
logos are arguments.
find more resources at
find more resources at
Plato’ Symposium October 5 2015
Yildiz 2
o Why is there mûthos on top of logos? Keep in mind that this mûthos is related to the
philosophical claim that Diolima will make. There will be a connection between mûthos and
o The mûthos is on the birth of érōs. At a party for the birthday of Aphrodite, who is the
goddess of sex/love, other gods are also invited, érōs has a kind of God-mother Aphrodite, and
érōs this diamon érōs is half his father, half his mother (penia and poros) we know that he is a
diamon (demi-god) because poros is a god, and penia is not a good and the mix of these two
create a demi-god. Érōs is a demi-god and all of these preparations will be used to point about
the demigod’s intermediary status to make some generalization.
Everyone assumes in the dialogue that érōs is a kind of desire.
o A desire to discovering yourself; and foremost the desire for sex.
o Diotima quickly make of érōs, not just the diamon of sex that you appeal to érōs when you
pursue sex, but also the diamon that sits over our desire for happiness. Our desire for wisdom.
The central point Diotima makes is that like a diamon who is between a good and a human, someone
who desires something is between the person who has no clue of what it is, and the person who already
has it.
o So if you desire anything, you first have to have some knowledge of what it is, a desire is
always a desire for what we call an intentional object.
" An intentional object is an object that the desire is for.
o You can’t desire nothing, you have to desire something and if you do not know the existence
of that something, you can’t desire it.
" Someone who is completely without knowledge will not have a desire for that thing.
In the case of wisdom, if you were completely ignorant of what wisdom is or you didn’t know what you
didn’t know, then you would never desire to be wise.
o If you were already wise, then you wouldn’t desire it either.
o One, who desires wisdom, or anything, has an intermediary status of one who is clueless of
that object and one who has already possessed that object.
o Socrates claims to be ignorant, his interlocutors don’t claim to be ignorant, but they claim to
know Euthyphro being a good example.
" Someone like Euthyphro would never seek out wisdom (For example of piety)
because they think they already have it.
A philosopher is someone who doesn’t have wisdom, but wants it.
The philosopher would have to have some knowledge of what he wants but doesn’t have it.
For knowledge the main point is that philosophy which is a love of (a desire for) wisdom, and any other
kind of desire belongs to someone who has an intermediary status between someone who is ignorant
and someone who has itsome idea of what you want.
Plato connects up the kind of desire a philosopher has with the desire for sex.
find more resources at
find more resources at
Plato’ Symposium October 5 2015
Yildiz 3
We started off with érōs as a desire for sex, and Plato does not say what he might have said which is
there are a lot of different kinds of desire knowledge, sex and wisdom, all different and rules are
different, what Plato wants to say is that it all the same thing.
The Greek word philía (φιλία) is non-sexual. It is a word for friendship but it would also be a word
used for love of abstract ideas if you love your country you would use the word philía.
Érōs has sexual meanings. Plato is suggesting that everybody is a lover of some sort. Just because they
desire and since human beings are defined by their desires, every human being have a desire and desire
has one object and we can talk about all sorts of desires.
A normal state for human beings is to be in a desirable state. Every thing we do, every action we
undertake, we undertake in order to satisfy a desire. We want to be in a state different from the one we
are in not in a state of not having but in a state of having what we want (desire).
In Socrates speech he identifies érōs as emblematic, or the kind of desire that érōs is that everyone
understands is emblematic of all kinds of desires so that the person who desires sex, is essentially doing
the same kind of thing that everyone is doing.
The only difference is the specific object of desire and whether that specific object of desire is or likely
to satisfy the person.
o You can desire sex and be successful, and if someone asks why you desire sex, you might
answer because it will make you happy, or because it is good for you, so every desire for a
specific goal (a good grade, some other pleasure or reward) is desire because it is thought in
having that you will have what is good for you, and when you have what is good for you, you
will be happy.
o On the one hand, we can say the desire for sex is a general desire, and we can hardly criticise
the existence of desire, it is a state we discover ourselves in.
o What is criticisable is whether it delivers whatever it is suppose to deliver whether this is
what you want in the long run, whether it is good.
Diotima in questioning Socrates who thinks that érōs is a good God, Diotima says to Socrates when you
desire sex, when you desire the beautiful (or what you call the beautiful) lets just say what you are
doing is you are desiring the good substitute the beautiful for the good.
It means that you desire sex because you think it is good, and you think that it being good will make
you happy (εὐδαιμονία eu̯dai̯monía) is the word for the state you would be in if you got everything
you desire and there is nothing else you would desire.
o Sometimes people are unhappy even though they try to be happy some are unhappy because
it is out of their control, and others are unhappy even though it was in their control.
Someone could get what they desire but still be unhappy.
o To this extend, happiness is something that is objective. Just because you think it will make
you happy does not guarantee that it will make you happy.
" Even if the thing you desire will bring you happiness, if you fail to get it, this will make
you unhappy.
" Happiness is supposed to be what people are pursuing via sex, or anything else they desire
money, power, and wisdom. People pursue it because they think it will add to their happiness
or bring happiness. A certain amount of desires (this much money, this much property etc.)
will bring happiness sometimes people screw up. What is the connection between érōs and
philosophy? “I rather be happy
than be right”
find more resources at
find more resources at