Moral Transformation and the Love of Beauty in Plato’s Symposium

Journal of the History of Philosophy 48 (4):415-444 (2010)
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This paper defends an intellectualist interpretation of Diotima’s speech in Plato’s Symposium. I argue that Diotima’s purpose, in discussing the lower lovers, is to critique their erōs as aimed at a goal it can never secure, immortality, and as focused on an inferior object, themselves. By contrast, in loving the form of beauty, the philosopher gains a mortal sort of completion; in turning outside of himself, he also ceases to be preoccupied by his own incompleteness.


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Suzanne Obdrzalek
Claremont McKenna College

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