The Symposium

The Symposium

Book - 2003
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The scene is a dinner party for the literati of Athens, the action a series of speeches by the guests. From these there emerges a complete and complex philosophy of love. Christopher Gill's translation retains all the drama and humour of the Greek, bringing the historical figures to life.
Publisher: London : Penguin Books ; New York : Penguin Putnam, [2003]
ISBN: 9780140449273
Characteristics: xlvi, 89, [1] pages ; 20 cm
Additional Contributors: Gill, Christopher 1946-


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Nov 10, 2018

This is one of the most easily and eagerly read of the dialogues: the subject has not been superseded by science and will always have a strong element of personal preference to it; its un-self-consciously speculative, tender, and the speeches are made in good faith; it is the most enjoyable, from a literary point of view. Extensive introduction and notes, and (thankfully!) the Stephanus numbers are in the margins.

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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