Phaedrus (dialogue) - Wikipedia
There is little doubt that in the Phaedrus Plato wishes to express and evoke .. It is also splendidly argued for in relation to the Symposium by Warner , passim .. G., 'Passionate Platonic Love in the Phaedrus', Ancient Philosophy 2 (). that Plato's account of friendship is in the Phaedrus. This dialogue outlines such love and friendship in the Platonic dialogues com vourably with Aristotle's. Platonic love is a type of love, or close relationship, that is non-sexual. Its symbol would be the (c, 8) – Plato's quoting of Phaedrus' eulogy on Eros.
It still remains to show that such madness is given by the gods for our happiness. In order to do this Socrates must say something about our souls, for it is here that we are affected by madness and it is here that we find happiness. This is the connecting link which leads one from a discussion of love as madness to a discussion of the soul psyche c ].
The method of collection and division points out the need to grasp the whole and then delineate the parts. Consequently, the speech contends that we must learn something about the soul both human gr and divine gr. We must do this by observing how the soul acts gr and how it is acted upon gr i. It is to be noted that the sense of "proof" here is Apodeisis i. We must be cautious about seeing too much in this so-called proof. It is merely a stage in a general story about the soul and as such its purpose is not so much to "prove" the immortality of the soul as it is to show us something about the activity of the soul as manifested by its immortal nature.
It is only here that we gain a sense of the place of this proof within the overall Apodeisis. We shall begin our showing forth of the soul by stating something, about the movement gr of the soul c. The "formal proof" for the immortality of the soul is as follows. Therefore, 4 the soul must always have been. At this stage the regressive element in the proof has been established.
It follows the Pythagorean belief that the soul has always existed prior to its incarnation. The final conclusion is based upon this belief that the soul is unproduced. The key point in all this is that the nature of the soul involves motion. The very essence of its immortality lies in its self-motion e. Now it is from here that the rest of the proof or self-showing will progress.
We had begun by stating the need for proving that love is a kind of madness that is given by the gods for our greatest happiness. The qualities of madness and happiness are predicates of the soul and so there evolved the need to investigate the soul. The significance of the proof lies in the fact that it has established the nature gr of the soul, a nature which is bound up with the concept of self-motion e. The Apodeisis now begins to move towards its most fundamental expression by discussing, in mythological terms, the movement of the soul with regard to its form gr a.
That is to say, attention is shifted away from its nature viz. The task now before the speech maker is to tell truly about the soul. Yet such a task, Socrates says, is a divine discourse and one that no mortal can easily attempt.
The best that one can do under the present circumstances is to convey an image gr of the soul a. Hence the form or eidos of the soul will be presented through an image of the soul. Socrates likens the soul to a pair of winged horses and a charioteer a. In the case of the gods, the horses and charioteer are noble and good gr.
But in the case of mortals one of the horses is ill-trained and troublesome, thus making the movement of the chariot difficult b. The mortal soul is a tripartite consisting of Reason the charioteerspirit the good horse and irrational emotion the bad horse cf. Although all soul is immortal, some souls lose their wings and begin a downward movement that culminates in an embodiment on earth that we designate as human beings mortal living beings c.
It is this problem, which will ultimately be the problem of the human condition, which Socrates now addresses.
The next sections of the speech will seek to describe the manner in which the soul loses its wings. The nature gr of the wing is to move upward toward the place of the gods d. It is that which partakes of the divine gr. But that which is divine, in accord with Platonic theory, is the Beautiful, the Wise, the Good etc. Thus it is the nature of the wing to move upward to this divine sphere where in some manner, the qualities of the Beautiful and the Good etc.
It is here, the speaker asserts, that the soul receives its proper nourishment efor it is this sphere that the soul is most properly suited to understand. We are now given an image of the life of the gods, whose souls are such that they can properly partake of their nourishment. Zeus the very image of upward movement and thus the central god of this dialogue leads an array of gods and their followers to a feast and banquet.
Those chariots that are completely good and noble proceed steeply upward to the very edge of the spherical heavens. It is here, the speaker claims, that the winged soul takes its stand on the outer surface of heaven and gazes upon which is beyond the heavens gr i.
This is the feasting of the soul and we are told that which is feasted upon is not anything within the universe of physical beings. It is at this point that Socrates re-emphasizes the difficulty of the speech.
He states that what is about to be said has never been uttered by an earthly poet gr nor will it ever be. It is not the poetical that emerges here, but the truth gr itself; this is a true speech gr c.
We are at the nodal point of the dialogue. Socrates states that that which the soul feasts upon as that which is most properly its own i. True knowledge is thus a knowledge of Being and it is the winged soul that has access to this sphere. But what else is said here about this nourishment, this Being? It is "visible" gr only to the mind grwhich is the pilot of the soul c. What is it that is visible this way though, we may conjecture, it is invisible in an earthly sense?
It i s that which is a unity running through a great diversity e. Again, the image portrays the realm of Being as being beyond the realm of the visible, tangible etc. It is accessible only to a divine-like mind.
Thus it is through mind nous and not through the senses gr that one grasps that which is, in principle, beyond the sphere of sensation. And so we have, on the one hand, the cosmos with its earthly instances of justice, knowledge, etc. It is this latter realm that is the proper object of the divine and that which is divine in the souls of mortals, namely, mind or Reason. It is only in this realm that the soul receives its proper nourishment.
Socrates concludes the image by noting that once this has been accomplished the soul returns to the cosmos and attends to its other parts viz. Before moving to the next section, it might do us well to state a thematic problem at issue here which will anticipate a later discussion. What must be felt throughout this whole image is a tension between two realms e. One might wonder about the connection, if any, between these two spheres, spheres which we might characterize in the broadest sense as the spheres of Being and beings.
What is the relationship between Being and beings? And what is the significance of one being visible while the other is somehow invisible except to the mind? It is here that we will be able to discuss fully the sense of the connection between the two realms. The term "Being" retains the obscurity and wonder of the phenomenon which would be lost if the translation followed the Latinized and modernized movement from say, ousia to substantia to "substance" as that which is "real" or "truly real" e.
We can gain a glimpse of the problem at issue here by referring to an early lecture given by Heidegger at the University of Marburg: The Ontological Difference says beings are always characterized through a definite constitution of Being Seinsver fassung. Herein lies the darkness -- how a being belongs to Being. Resuming our place in the dialogue we should recall that up till now Socrates has given an image of how the gods feast at the Banquet. Many of these souls have a bad horse which, because of its tendency toward the visible i.
At bottom this means that very few mortal souls feast upon Being but rather must only get an occasional glimpse of that which is beyond the cosmos and for many of these this vision is soon forgotten.
The dark horses drag these souls about and, if the drivers have not trained and tempered their horses i. And yet it is precisely on the pastures of Being that the wing, which has been damaged, receives its proper nourishment b. Mortal souls contain within themselves a part that is, in principle, antithetical to that realm beyond the cosmos. The dark horse by its very nature plummets downwards and, because of this innate process, the wings become damaged and lost through the contradictory tendencies of the soul to move upwards through the mind while being drawn downwards through the desires of the senses.
It is this contradictory tendency that accounts for the confusion and commotion amongst the many souls in the legions of the gods b. Finally, there is the cyclical reincarnation of the soul based upon its just or unjust appropriation of its allotted time upon earth.
It is to be noted that though the process of reincarnation takes 10, years, the journey of the highest forms of life takes only 3, years i. One who lives thusly, Socrates says, is either a genuine lover of wisdom or a lover concerned with a love for wisdom gr a. But those who live the most genuine life i.
Indeed, the highest form of life appears, from the perspective of the other forms of life, to be mad d. With this, the discussion of the movement of the soul draws to a close.
Note how a clustering of terms has begun to reveal the true theme of the speech. First, the highest forms of life all involved the notion of a lover viz. Indeed, the genuine lover of wisdom, or "the philosophical lover" was to be seen as most pleasing to the gods. Yet, secondly, one who partakes of such a life appears mad to those who live a "down to earth" existence.
Thus the two terms of love and madness re-emerge at this point in the dialogue. The speech is explicit about this in the following section. Socrates proclaims that his whole speech has been "about that fourth kind of madness," namely, love or eros d. The speech began with the problem of love and madness. Now love and madness pertain to the soul and thus to know fully about these phenomena is to tell a story about the soul.
This, indeed, is what has been taking place. The interconnection of the whole speech is made specifically portrayed when we see that the previous part of the speech ended with a lover of wisdom and the comments upon how and why that person appears mad. He concludes by stating that he thinks the speech is long enough, and the listener is welcome to ask any questions if something has been left out. Socrates, attempting to flatter Phaedrus, responds that he is in ecstasy and that it is all Phaedrus' doing.
Socrates comments that as the speech seemed to make Phaedrus radiant, he is sure that Phaedrus understands these things better than he does himself, and that he cannot help follow Phaedrus' lead into his Bacchic frenzy. Phaedrus picks up on Socrates' subtle sarcasm and asks Socrates not to joke. Socrates then proceeds to give Phaedrus credit for leading him out of his native land: A hungry animal can be driven by dangling a carrot or a bit of greenstuff in front of it; similarly if you proffer me speeches bound in books en bibliois I don't doubt you can cart me all around Attica, and anywhere else you please.
Phaedrus warns him that he is younger and stronger, and Socrates should "take his meaning" and "stop playing hard to get". We are all ruled, he says, by two principles: Following your judgment is "being in your right mind", while following desire towards pleasure without reason is "outrage" hubris.
The desire to take pleasure in beauty, reinforced by the kindred beauty in human bodies, is called Eros. The problem, he explains, is that one overcome with this desire will want to turn his boy into whatever is most pleasing to himself, rather than what is best for the boy. At some point, "right-minded reason" will take the place of "the madness of love", [Note 14] and the lover's oaths and promises to his boy will be broken.
Phaedrus believes that one of the greatest goods given is the relationship between lover and boy. Because the boy has a lover as such a valuable role model, he is on his best behavior to not get caught in something shameful. To get caught in something shameful would be like letting down his lover, therefore the boy is consistently acting his best.
The absence of shame makes room for a sense of pride to come in; pride from the wealthy feeling of impressing one's own lover. Impressing one's own lover brings more learning and guidance into the boy's life. The non-lover, he concludes, will do none of this, always ruled by judgment rather than desire for pleasure.
Socrates, fearing that the nymphs will take complete control of him if he continues, states that he is going to leave before Phaedrus makes him "do something even worse". A voice "from this very spot" forbids Socrates to leave before he makes atonement for some offense to the gods. Socrates then admits that he thought both of the preceding speeches were terrible, saying Lysias' repeated itself numerous times, seemed uninterested in its subject, and seemed to be showing off.
Plato on Friendship and Eros
Socrates states that he is a "seer". While he is not very good at it, he is good enough for his purposes, and he recognizes what his offense has been: Second speech of Socrates a—b [ edit ] Madness a—c [ edit ] Socrates begins by discussing madness. If madness is all bad, then the preceding speeches would have been correct, but in actuality, madness given as a gift of the gods provides us with some of the best things we have.
As they must show that the madness of love is, indeed, sent by a god to benefit the lover and beloved in order to disprove the preceding speeches, Socrates embarks on a proof of the divine origin of this fourth sort of madness.
It is a proof, he says, that will convince "the wise if not the clever". A soul is always in motion and as a self-mover has no beginning.
A self-mover is itself the source of everything else that moves. So, by the same token, it cannot be destroyed. Bodily objects moved from the outside have no soul, while those that move from within have a soul. Moving from within, all souls are self-movers, and hence their immortality is necessary. Hackworth the "centrepiece" of Phaedrus, and "the famous and moving account of the vision, fall and incarnation of the soul.
While the gods have two good horses, everyone else has a mixture: When a soul sheds its wings, it comes to earth and takes on an earthly body that then seems to move itself. However, foulness and ugliness make the wings shrink and disappear. All the gods, except for Hestiafollow Zeus in this procession.
While the chariots of the gods are balanced and easier to control, other charioteers must struggle with their bad horse, which will drag them down to earth if it has not been properly trained. Feeling wonderful, they are taken around until they make a complete circle. On the way they are able to see Justice, Self-control, Knowledge, and other things as they are in themselves, unchanging.
When they have seen all things and feasted on them, coming all the way around, they sink back down inside heaven. They see some things and miss others, having to deal with their horses; they rise and fall at varying times. Other souls, while straining to keep up, are unable to rise, and in noisy, sweaty discord they leave uninitiated, not having seen reality.
Where they go after is then dependent on their own opinions, rather than the truth. Any soul that catches sight of any true thing is granted another circuit where it can see more; eventually, all souls fall back to earth.
Those that have been initiated are put into varying human incarnations, depending on how much they have seen; those made into philosophers have seen the most, while kings, statesmen, doctors, prophets, poets, manual laborers, sophistsand tyrants follow respectively.
It generally takes 10, years for a soul to grow its wings and return to where it came, but philosophers, after having chosen such a life three times in a row, grow their wings and return after only 3, years. This is because they have seen the most and always keep its memory as close as possible, and philosophers maintain the highest level of initiation.
They ignore human concerns and are drawn towards the divine. While ordinary people rebuke them for this, they are unaware that the lover of wisdom is possessed by a god. This is the fourth sort of madness, that of love. When reminded, the wings begin to grow back, but as they are not yet able to rise, the afflicted gaze aloft and pay no attention to what goes on below, bringing on the charge of madness.
This is the best form that possession by a god can take, for all those connected to it. While all have seen reality, as they must have to be human, not all are so easily reminded of it. Those that can remember are startled when they see a reminder, and are overcome with the memory of beauty. Some have not been recently initiated, and mistake this reminder for beauty itself and only pursue desires of the flesh. This pursuit of pleasure, then, even when manifested in the love of beautiful bodies, is not "divine" madness, but rather just having lost one's head.
The recent initiates, on the other hand, are overcome when they see a bodily form that has captured true beauty well, and their wings begin to grow. When this soul looks upon the beautiful boy it experiences the utmost joy; when separated from the boy, intense pain and longing occur, and the wings begin to harden.
Caught between these two feelings, the lover is in utmost anguish, with the boy the only doctor for the pain. The charioteer is filled with warmth and desire as he gazes into the eyes of the one he loves.
The good horse is controlled by its sense of shame, but the bad horse, overcome with desire, does everything it can to go up to the boy and suggest to it the pleasures of sex.
The bad horse eventually wears out its charioteer and partner, and drags them towards the boy; yet when the charioteer looks into the boy's face, his memory is carried back to the sight of the forms of beauty and self-control he had with the gods, and pulls back violently on the reins. As this occurs over and over, the bad horse eventually becomes obedient and finally dies of fright when seeing the boy's face, allowing the lover's soul to follow the boy in reverence and awe.