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Plato's Symposium.docx

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CLAS 430

Why would someone present philosophical knowledge through drama? a. Entertainment, engaging for a broad audience b. Dialogue form makes you think – figure things out for yourself/figure out if it is true or not. c. Allows you to represent a variety of point of views d. Dialogue form represents philosophy as grounded in real human beings  Though Plato shows different points of views (tragedy, comedic, doctor, etc) they are not represented equally. a. US  Friend  Apollodorus  Aristodems  Phaedrus, Pausanias, Eryximachus, Aristophanes, Agathon. Socrates, Alcibiades  Diotima  PLATO  Socrates: Plato presented as a dominant character, Hero of Philosophy a. Died for his beliefs (tragic for Plato’s dialogue) b. Looks weird (comedy) c. Satars embody ugliness; Socrates compared to one. d. Socratic problem: how realistic is Socrates of Plato’s dialogue compared to real Socrates who lived in Athens. i. The fact that he was real & died gives the tragedy  416 BCE Plato (dramatized philosophy) dramatizing period of time when he was 10 years old.  Plato is looking back to a time of dead “heroes of the past” all real people, except Diotima.  Symposion: drink with other upper class men. Literally means “drinking together” a. Plato uses this occasion as a vehicle for serious discussion & philosophy. b. Through him, the word became a marker for discussion instead of a drinking party. c. Makes more masculine & serious by excluding women entertainers (flute women) d. Diotima – female. Ambiance is very male homo-erotic? e. Plato banishes drinking, which is usually mandatory. Men have hangovers, which gives a reasonable excuse not to drink without hurting masculinity.  Eros – “love” exclusively passionate erotic desire. Powerful overwhelming force. Plato uses this force to embody paradoxically the universe both physically/metaphysically. a. Why did Plato use Eros and not Aphrodite? i. Greece was a male-dominated culture. ii. Pervaded by a male-homeotic ambiance. b. Desire is a response to beauty. BUT Greek view of beauty is much different than modern society. Now “beauty is in the eye of the beholder” different for each person. Back then, Greeks thought of beauty as an idealized objective thing. c. Beauty does not just refer to physical attraction. morally & esthetically. Morally fine, morally beautiful, of fine & noble character “KALOS” i. Socrates described as having amazing inner-beauty. Plato’s challenge to society’s conventional pattern of external beauty. Inner beauty is more important.  Greek homosexuality (male): predominant theme in this dialogue. We know much more about male-male desire compared to women- women desire. a. Chicken or steak? Different attitudes/preferences. It is not a sexual orientation, not an identity as it is today. Sexual behavior mattered, gender did not. b. Who is on top? Not literal sexual act. Metaphorically, who is viewed on the dominant partner? Social superior (adult citizen male) & social inferior (woman, slave, or a much younger man) asymmetrical relationship. Asymmetry for men based on age. Younger man referred to as “beloved boy” i. Yes, much younger. Age of puberty considered best attraction. Not pedophilia. Consensual relationships with strong social approval. Form of educational opportunity. ii. Sexual relationships as being mutually exchange of pleasure for 2 people. In these relationships, older man expected to get sexual gratification. Whereas younger man does not.  Elaborate narrative: series of filters between us and the author. Distances author from us. Warns us not to take this as literal account of literal event. Such as a “game of telephone”  Socrates lost in thought, gets left behind, not well groomed – gives us a stereotype of philosopher.  Symposium competitive but carefully organized set. Each speech represents point of view of certain literary person/larger view  P
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