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Boston College
Honors Program
HONR 1101

Emily McClure SymposiumAfterthought Notes Based on Class Agathon: Before class, I noticed that Socrates’comments flusterAgathon, but I did not understand why. I understand now that it is because Socrates is kind of mocking Agathon and making light jabs at him. I got this wrong before because I did not pick up on the sarcasm of the situation. From what I understand now,Agathon is a decently vain young man, considering his popularity in society with his plays. It seems as if he is trying to keep up with the older gentlemen at dinner, as if he is trying to prove his place in Socrates’small circle of followers.Agathon says that he knows how to speak in order to please “the many”, but that he doesn’t know how to please “the few”. Socrates mocks this by saying that the few of them were also part of the large audience whenAgathon presented his play. The most valuable content ofAgathon’s speech might be when he says that Eros is love and Eros is good (and brave, tender, just – and many other wonderful things). We related this in class to the more modern saying that “God is love” and how many Christians believe that all good things come from God. But Socrates points out that Agathon only focuses his speech on the praises and beautiful parts of Eros and that he makes a flowery speech that does not necessarily speak much of the whole Truth. Agathon’s speech is a nice, well-said speech, but it is geared towards the general public (which would enjoy the lists of beautiful words and adjectives and descriptions of wonderful things); it is not geared toward the intimate group of philosophers who are looking for higher meaning. Socrates begins to questionAgathon and all parts of his speech, and he kind of lets downAgathon gently, which then transitions into Socrates’ own speech. Socrates: He contradicts Agathon’s idea that Eros is good. He says that Eros is not beautiful or good because he wants those things, and one cannot want something that they already have. So he suggests that eros (lowercase now as Socrates argues that he it is not a god) is the longing or yearning for these good and beautiful things that will make one’s soul happy forever. I did not understand the significance of Beauty in his speech before, but now I think I understand that Socrates is saying that eros is the connection or the mode through which mortals are able to reach immortality – which is the realm of the For
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