Love and Friendship in the Lysis and the Symposium: Human and Divine

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The paper claims that we cannot understand properly Platonic conception of love and friendship unless we read the Lysis in the light of the Symposium and vice verse. Dealing with the crucial question of what made Plato write two different dialogues on the same topic, it advocates an alternative intertextual reading that does not deny progress of Plato’s thinking. Though the Symposium offers, in comparison to the Lysis, a more developed philosophical theory of love, Plato still has good reasons to articulate the dilemmas presented in the Lysis. Combining the contrast in dialogue endings with the similarity in structure and in argumentation, Plato makes clear that, between the Lysis and the Symposium, there is progress and constancy at the same time: while the Symposium gives a philosophical account of what we can call “divine love”, it accepts and even emphasizes the insight of the Lysis that philosophical love can imply lack of what we usually consider worth loving. Plato in the Symposium does not discard “human love” and does not conceal possible troubles of philosophical, i.e. divine love. Therefore, the critique of Plato as being champion of impersonal or “ideal” love is unpersuasive.
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Archival date: 2017-11-21
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