Love of the Good, Love of the Whole: Diotima’s Response to Aristophanes in Plato’s Symposium

Epoché: A Journal for the History of Philosophy 13 (2):267-290 (2009)
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Abstract

Diotima criticizes, but does not refute, Aristophanes’ thesis that love is desire for completeness. Her argument incorporates that thesis within a more complextheory: eros is desire for the permanent possession of the good, and hence also desire for immortality. Aristophanes cannot account for the aspirations entailed in the desire for fame or in the desire for knowledge. Such aspirations can be understood only with reference to the good. However, the paper shows how time plays a fundamental role in the original pursuit of wholeness at the center of Aristophanes’ myth of the two halves. Diotima appropriates his thesis when she describes the urge to leave behind something similar to what one has been. The desire for immortality is nothing but a desire for completeness pursued by mortal nature against the never-ending destruction of time.

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Alessandra Fussi
University of Pisa

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