Platos Symposium analysis Essay

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Platos Symposium analysis

"Plato's Symposium"

Kaboom, that was the sound of Zeus's thunder crashing towards the Earth. During this time
period the people in Greece believed in these gods. Also happening at the same time period
was when the worlds most famous philosophers began to come out and teach. Most importantly
the philosophers did what they were suppose to, and that was to question the world around
them. One of the most famous philosophers in the Greek period around 416 B.C. was a man
named Socrates. Socrates was student of the Diotima which taught him things about love,
ignorance, wisdom and right opinion, which he rehearses to the people attending the dinner
of Agathon's.

We will first start by analyzing what Diotima has said about the four cognitive functions,
which are: wisdom, understanding, right opinion and ignorance. She asks Socrates "do you
think what is not wise, then it is ignorant?" and she continues with "Do you not perceive
that there is something between wisdom and ignorance?" In these first quotes Socrates only
believes that if something is not wise then it has to be ignorant and that there is no in
between. Diotima then points out that doesn't think see that there is an middle point
between wisdom and ignorance. Diotima then replies "To have right opinion without being
able to give a reason, is neither to understand (for how could an unreasoned thing be
understanding?) nor is it ignorance (for how can ignorance hit the truth?). Right opinion
is no doubt something between knowledge and ignorance." In the second quote what Diotima
tells Socrates is that right opinion is in between wisdom and ignorance. She explains this
by telling Socrates that being incapable of giving a reason something cannot be considered
knowledge, because how can knowledge be entirely lacking reason. She also points out that
it can't be considered ignorance because you can't obtain the truth from ignorance, but
then it is clearly something in between wisdom and ignorance which is called right

Diotima explains the four cognitive functions more in depth a couple of paragraphs later
on starting with "The truth is this: no god seeks after wisdom or desires to become
wise—for wise he is already; nor does anyone else seek after wisdom, if he is wise
already. And again, the ignorant do not seek after wisdom nor desire to become wise; for
this is the worst of ignorance, that one who is neither beautiful and good nor intelligent
should think himself good enough, so he does not desire it, because he does not think he
is lacking in what he does not think he needs." What Diotima tells Socrates here is that
no god is in search or in want of being wise for the gods are already wise, nor does any
human who is already wise seek after wisdom. Neither do the ignorant search to be wise,
and that is the evil of ignorance, a person that is satisfied with himself and is not good
nor wise and is satisfied with himself, because he has no desire for that which he has no

Socrates then ask Diotima "Who then are the Philosophers? If those who seek after wisdom
are neither wise nor the ignorant?" She answers with "They are between these two, as Love
is. You see, wisdom is one of the most beautiful things, and Love is a love for the
beautiful, so Love must necessarily be a philosopher, and, being a philosopher, he must be
between wise and ignorant. His birth is the cause of this for he comes of a wise and
resourceful father, but of a mother resource less and not wise." Diotima here explains to
Socrates that philosophers are in the center of wise and ignorant, and love is right in
there between the two. Because wisdom is a very beautiful thing, and Love is of the
beautiful; and therefore love is also a philosopher or another way of putting it a lover
of wisdom. And being a lover of wisdom it too is in the center of wisdom and ignorance.
This Love's birth was also the cause because dad was wealthy and wise, and his mom was
poor and foolish.

Now we go on to the model of the power of love. Socrates starts off asking Diotima what
power does love have? Diotima answers " To interpret and to ferry across to the gods
things given by men, and to men things from the gods, from men petitions and sacrifices,
from the gods commands and requitals in return; and being in the middle it completes them
and binds them all together into a whole. Through this intermediary moves all the art of
divination, and the art of priests, and all concerned with sacrifice and mysteries and
incantations, and all sorcery and witchcraft. For God mingles not with man, but through
this comes all the communion and conversation of gods with men and men with gods, both
awake and asleep; and he who is expert in this is a spiritual man, but the expert in
something other that this, such as common arts or crafts, is a vulgar man. These spirits
are many and of all sorts and kinds, and one of them is Love." After Socrates ask about
the powers that love has. Diotima explains to Socrates that Loves power includes
communication between the gods and man. To transport to the gods the sacrifices of men and
prayers, and to the men replies from the gods and commands. Love is a middle man that
connects the two worlds that divide the gods from men. And therefore in him all is
connected. Through love the doings of priest and prophets, such as sacrifices mysteries
and charms, and all prophecy and spells find their way. For God does not talk to man; but
through love all the talking and meddling with of a god is then transferred to a man,
whether sleeping or awake is going on. The wisdom which understands this is a spiritual;
all other wisdom such as arts and hand made things, is stingy and lacking refinement. Now
all these intermediate powers are a lot and very different, and one of them is love.

Now we go on to the myth of the origin of love. Socrates ask Diotima who was his father
and who was his mother? Diotima goes on to explain that it's a long story but she'll tell
him anyway. She starts by saying "When Aphrodite was born, the gods held a feast, among
them Plenty, The son of Neverataloss. When they had dined, Poverty came in begging, as
might be expected with all that good cheer, and hung about the doors. Plenty then got
drunk on the nectar—for there was no wine yet--and went into Zeus's park all heavy and
fell asleep. So Poverty because of her penury made a plan to have a child from Plenty, and
lay by his side and conceived Love. This is why Love has become follower and servant of
Aphrodite, having been begotten at her birthday party, and at the same time he is by
nature a lover busy with beauty because Aphrodite is beautiful. Then since Love is the son
of Plenty and Poverty he gets his fortunes from them. First, he is always poor; and for
from being tender and beautiful, as most people think, he is hard and rough and unshod and
homeless, lying always on the ground without bedding, sleeping by the doors and in the
streets in the open air, having his mother's nature, always dwelling with want. But from
his father again he has designs upon beautiful and good things, being brave and go-ahead
and high-strung, a mighty hunter, always weaving devices, and a successful coveter of
wisdom, a philosopher all his days, a great wizard and sorcerer and sophist. He was born
neither mortal nor immortal; but on the same say, sometimes he is blooming and alive, when
he has plenty, sometimes he is dying; then again he gets new life through his father's
nature; but trickles away, so that Love is not in want nor in wealth, and again he is
between wisdom and ignorance." The meaning of this little quote is simply that at birthday
of Aphrodite there was a feast of the gods. The god named Plenty was invited. Now after
the feast Plenty who loved nectar went into Zeus's garden and fell into a heavy sleep. And
there came Poverty plotted to have a child with Plenty, so she laid down and conceived
Love. And because Love is a natural lover of beauty, and because Aphrodite herself was
beautiful, and also because he was born on her birthday he is then her follower and
attendant. And just like his parents are so is he. He is most importantly poor, and
anything but tender and fair, as people imagine him; he is rough and filthy, and has no
shoes, nor a house to live in; on the earth he lies bare under the open heaven, in the
streets or at the doors of houses, taking his rest; and like his mom always in misfortune.
He is also like his father, always plotting against the fair and the good; he is bold and
strong like a mighty hunter, always weaving intrigue or other, sharp in pursuit of wisdom.
Continues for 5 more pages >>