Socrates on Love--revised for second edition

In N. D. Smith, Ravi Sharma & Jones Rusty (eds.), The Bloomsbury Companion to Plato, second edition (forthcoming)
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In this chapter, I offer an overview of current scholarly debates on Plato's Lysis. I also argue for my own interpretation of the dialogue. In the Lysis, Socrates argues that all love is motivated by the desire for one’s own good. This conclusion has struck many interpreters as unattractive, so much so that some attempt to reinterpret the dialogue, such that it either does not offer an account of interpersonal love, or that it offers an account on which love is, in fact, an other-regarding state. Others, notably Vlastos, criticize Socrates’ theory as implausibly and repellently egoistic. I maintain, against the first group, that Socrates is indeed offering an egoistic theory of love. I argue, against the second, that, while Socrates’ theory may be repellent, it possesses considerable explanatory power and avoids certain weaknesses which infect contemporary approaches to love.



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Suzanne Obdrzalek
Claremont McKenna College

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