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.
plausible, as well, linking all these enumerated capacities together, to see their ties to the eternal divine origins from which the demiurge creates them. All of them have the potential to From Zeyl (2000). Phaedrus 250a ff. See Hyland (2008, 81–82). 30 Sallis (1999, 53, citing Phaedrus 250d–e). 28 29 Senses, Eros, Fear, and Spirit 29 be the greatest or the worst of capacities, depending on how humans make use of them, due primarily to their powerful divine origin. Unguided and
human soul contains the capacity for eros, a capacity to yearn for, strive after, and desire what we lack and whence we came. We know that these individuated human souls will eventually and necessarily be attached to bodies that do not share the world body’s self-sufficiency, and so, just as the world soul is placed in a body suited to it, one expects that the human body, with all its needs and desires, was created by the lesser gods to suit and to serve the individuated soul initially created by
dwelling-with he links to logos; the exaiphnês or sudden happening to which it leads he links to nous. Hyland, too, looks to Symposium to shed light on the passage in Seventh Letter, citing Diotima’s claim that the revelation of beauty itself is neither some logos nor some epistêmê. 63 See Chapter 1, in the section titled “Individuation, Alienation, and Noetic Pursuit,” regarding the moment of individuation in Timaeus when eternal soul becomes temporal, individuated soul. Time is created after
149e), which gives us all the more reason not to ignore the erotic matchmaking aspects of the midwife metaphor and to focus our attention on it among the midwife’s other activities. These, too, are part of a single technê. Socrates and Theaetetus indicate that the erotic dimension of matchmaking is equal in importance to, indeed a part of the same enterprise as, aiding in delivery. Just as there is no good harvest without proper sowing, so there is no viable birth with out proper matchmaking. By
loves (ὅτου δὲ ἀπορεῖ). He does not understand, and cannot explain, what has happened to him.â•›.â•›.â•›. So, when the lover is near, the boy’s pain is relieved just as the lover’s is, and 172 Self-Knowledge when they are apart he yearns as much as he is yearned for, because he has a mirror image of eros (εἴδωλον ἔρωτος) in himÂ€– anterosÂ€– though he neither speaks nor thinks of it as love (ἔρωτος), but as friendship (φιλίαν). (Phaedrus 255b7–e2)36 Here, as in Alcibiades I, eros is