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Plato's "Ladder of Love" (Symposium)

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Sydney Goldstein

on 11 April 2013

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Transcript of Plato's "Ladder of Love" (Symposium)

Discussion Background Plato's "Ladder of Love"
(Symposium) Classical Greek Philosopher
Mentor: Socrates; Student: Aristotle
Founded of Western Philosophy
Knowledge is innate
We recall (rather than learn)
Knowledge is certain Ladder of Love A beautiful body
All beautiful bodies
Beautiful souls
Beautiful laws, institutions
Beautiful knowledge
Beauty itself Kinds of Love Philia - "brotherly" love
Eros - passionate, desiring
Vulgar Eros (earthly)
Divine Eros Ladder of Love in a Good Life Platonic theory: Knowledge of other things follows a similar progression
Reaching highest level of love is divine
Goal of loving: understand inherent beauty
consistent and constant understanding
eternal Platonic Theory Virtue stems from this complete understanding of beauty
A "good" life - a virtuous life most basic form of love (sensory)

purest form of love (intellectual) Ladder of Love: Overview Goddess Diotima
Described as a seer/priestess Socrates
Learns from Diotima Platonic love 1. Platonic theory states that beauty (or similar concepts) can only be understood by first understanding a basic, mundane form of beauty and eventually progressing to a full understanding of beauty as a whole. Do you think this is always the case, or can concepts be understood and appreciated without following the steps of the ladder? 2. "'And if, my dear Socrates,' Diotima went on, 'man's life is ever worth the living, it is when he has attained this vision of the very soul of beauty.'" To what extent do you agree with this quotation? Can one have a "Good Life" without fully understanding beauty (or similar concepts)? 3. Plato asserts that knowledge of an idea is only gained through climbing the rings of the Ladder of Love. What other concepts do you think can be only understood by following the Ladder? What kinds of knowledge do you think can't be understood through the Ladder? By Sydney Goldstein
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