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Diotima suggests that Socrates was wrong to say that love means “being loved, rather than being a lover”

PHIL1301 Introduction to Philosophy

Module 2 Discussion

Symposium:

1. Diotima suggests that Socrates was wrong to say that love means “being loved, rather than being a lover” (487; 204c). What does she mean by this? What does it mean that love means “being loved”?

 

2. What does Diotima mean when she says that lovers “want the good to be theirs forever” (489; 206a)? What does this claim have to do with metaphysics?

 

3. Diotima says “all of us are pregnant, Socrates, both in body and in soul” (489; 206c). Can you explain the figurative meaning of this idea? What would be an example of being pregnant in soul?

 

4. Diotima proposes to initiate Socrates into “these rites of love” (492-494). This passage is referred to as Plato’s Ladder of Love. Can you give an example of one of the steps of this process, along this metaphorical Ladder? Can you explain how the process ends (“Try to pay attention to me…as best you can. You see, the man who has been thus far guided in matters of Love, who has beheld beautiful things in the right order and correctly, is coming now to the goal of Loving,” 493; 210e).

 

Republic:

 

1. At the very outset of the Allegory of the Cave, Socrates states that he will discuss “the effect of education and of the lack of it” (1132; 514a). In what sense, then, is the Allegory essentially about education?

 

2. Pick one or more of the following elements of the Allegory: The cave, the prisoners, the shadows, the puppets, the escaped prisoner, the ascent to the sunlight, the objects above in the world, the sun, the prisoner finding himself initially blinded by the sun, and the escaped prisoner’s return to the cave where the other prisoners scorn him. Explain the metaphorical meaning behind these parts of the story for Plato’s metaphysical philosophy.

 

3. After the Allegory, Socrates refers to “the song that dialectic sings” (1147; 532a). What does Plato mean by “dialectic”? And how is this theme connected to the Symposium’s Ladder of Love?

 

4. What does it mean to say that Plato believes in a “two-world metaphysics”? Does two-world metaphysics seem plausible or convincing to you? Why or why not? Do people today believe in the existence of two worlds?

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