Plato's Erotic World: From Cosmic Origins to Human Death
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Plato's entire fictive world is permeated with philosophical concern for eros, well beyond the so-called erotic dialogues. Several metaphysical, epistemological, and cosmological conversations - Timaeus, Cratylus, Parmenides, Theaetetus, and Phaedo - demonstrate that eros lies at the root of the human condition and that properly guided eros is the essence of a life well lived. This book presents a holistic vision of eros, beginning with the presence of eros at the origin of the cosmos and the human soul, surveying four types of human self-cultivation aimed at good guidance of eros, and concluding with human death as a return to our origins. The book challenges conventional wisdom regarding the "erotic dialogues" and demonstrates that Plato's world is erotic from beginning to end: the human soul is primordially erotic and the well cultivated erotic soul can best remember and return to its origins, its lifelong erotic desire.
colour on a grey background” (64). In his commentary on the passage in question, however, Cornford does not mention the Ibycus reference. 100 Courage The full text of the Ibycus’s poem is found in Proclus’s Â�commentary on the Parmenides: 1.â•‡ Ἔρος αὖτέ με κυανέοισιν ὑπὸ Yet again Love 2.â•‡ βλεφάροις τακέρ’ ὄμμασι with melting looks beneath dark â•…â•… δερκόμενος â•…â•… eyelids 3.â•‡ κηλήμασι παντοδάποισ’ ἐς ἄπειρα drives me with manifold charms 4.â•‡ δίκτυα Κύπριδι βάλλει. into the
wisdom and have no need to pursue it, humans do. I shall return again to the disjunction between the human and the divine, a problem raised by young Socrates’ theory of forms in Parmenides and echoed here in Symposium, but for the time being, suffice it to say that humans pursue objects of eros through of a combination of a lack, awareness of that lack, and a desire to remedy the lack. These same qualities lie behind hypothetical reasoning. As we saw with questioning in the previous chapter,
resembles Parmenides B8.79 As Mourelatos indicates, the erotic drive to the Platonic realities that exist beyond human beings has a strong parallel in the Parmenidean drive toward the truth. In both cases, desire carries the human being along toward the objects of desire. There is seduction in each. Pausanias’s speech in Symposium tells us a bit more about the erotic role of persuasion. In some other cities, he explains, their customs simply allow one to gratify lovers in all cases because they
it to Plato” (329), and while it does contain some beautiful and genuinely Platonic passages, these, he claims, are scattered among “a floating mass of worthless matter” (330), and it therefore could not be Plato’s creation. He then sets out to “establish the main points upon which [his rejection] depends” (330). After Schleiermacher cast doubt on Alcibiades I’s authenticity in the mid-nineteenth century, few philosophers chose to study the dialogue seriously and in depth. When the dialogue was
soul to navigate the sometimes tempestuous human condition, but the ultimate destination of human life exercises a profound and undeniable power over the journey. Human mortality is a consequence of our initial individuation and alienation from the divine,5 and we engage in self-cultivation in hopes of a safe and sound return to the soul’s divine origins. Human mortality also looms over the practice of philosophy as depicted in Plato’s world. Philosophy is both an effort to live the best human