ACCOUNTS OF LOVE IN PLATO’S SYMPOSIUM: ARGUMENTATIVE ESSAY
Plato’s Symposium is considered to be one of the precious early and therefore really rare sources for the European philosophy of love. Yet not understood exhaustively, at all its’ levels, with its’ rich intertextuality and ambiguous hints, the dialogue conceive innumerous interpretations and newer rereading. The latter requires a constant challenge to meticulously work with both the primary test and secondary ones. Generally, we understand that Plato’s philosophic arguments for explanation of love provided in Symposium are deeply patterned by the antique worldview and, namely, by the Greek mentality, parallels of which can be found in mythology, national literary images, universal archetypical constructions, and cultural arrangements.
Furthermore, since Plato tends to generalize the true nature of love in the person of Socrates, we suggest that Socrates, unlike all other speakers of the dialogue, understands love in philosophic rather than merely mental, poetical or hedonistic traditions of his time, which brings his interpretation from national and idealistic to universal and philosophic levels. In relation to the thesis statement, the paper would be divided according to two sub-purposes. In the first place, we will be considering arguments given by the participants in the dialogue for the explanation of love and regarding them in correlation with ancient Greek mentality, culture and worldview. Mostly the attention will be focused on Agathon’s and Socrates’s arguments as the opposite ones, but other interpretations, given as a background to the dialogic conversation itself, will be taken into consideration as well. Secondly, within the range of arguments, provided by both Agathon and Socrates, we will try to trace a counter-argument, which might bridge two opposite points of view over a gentle consensus and illustrates the way in which Plato manages to bring his interpretation of love from mythological and poetical dimensions to the philosophic one. All in all, our vision of the problem is not of philosophic neither of conceptual character, it is rather based on personal intuitive perception of Greek cultural context within broader anthropologic and universal scales. In these terms, a selective comparative analyses of Plato’s subjects with relevant myths and works by other writers would be provided as well. In our mind, this would contribute to better perceiving Plato’s philosophy on love within antiquity as a great cultural époque with distinctive values, features and civilizational problems. Most commentators who focused their attention on the Symposium confirm that the main subject of this dialogue is love, its’ effects and its’ nature (Naugle 1).
To begin with, John Bretlinger assumes that by proposing an account on the nature of Eros, Plato gives different descriptions and classifications on Love and showing it primarily within an object-directed aspiration and eventually proceeds to relate and describe the desired objects (Bretlinger 8). Another scientist, R. A. Marcus indicates that assuming the number of active participants, discussing the nature of love, Plato’s literal piece is in-between the Greek prose and drama, as all points of view are actually expressed in …