The philosophy of Plato had a strong impact on the development of Western thought and the evolution of Western culture. His ideas were influential with Christian thinkers in the third and fourth centuries and with European philosophers in the Renaissance and after.This paper will examine Plato's understanding of the nature of Erōs, desire and madness, and physical sexuality, and will examine Plato's theories of the relation of these experiences to spiritual development. For Plato, that spiritual development consisted of a form of human ascension to the level of the Forms, or divine templates of good.
[...] In their conversation they agree that love, or the nature of Erōs, is the desire to possess beauty. Diotima goes on to argue that true love is for the purpose of reproduction, physical or mental, and for immortality. Those whose creative urges are physical turn to women, she says, and those whose urges are mental, create thoughts instead of children through conversation with other men. The highest level of thought is political and economical. Diotima instructs Socrates on how to follow this path of Erōs: The true follower of this subject must begin, as a young man, with the pursuit of physical beauty. [...]
[...] The Education of Desire: Plato and the Philosophy of Religion. Toronto: University of Toronto Press Hadot, Pierre. Plotinus or The Simplicity of Vision. Michael Chase, trans. Chicago: University of Chicago Press Leadbetter, Ron. Eros, retrieved April from http://www.pantheon.org/articles/e/eros.html Louth, Andrew. The Origins of the Christian Mystical Tradition: From Plato to Denys. Oxford Clarendon Press Mythography, Eros in Greek Mythology, retrieved April from http://www.loggia.com/myth/eros.html Rist, John M. Eros and Psyche: Studies in Plato, Plotinus, and Origin. Toronto: University of Toronto Press Rosen, Stanley. [...]
[...] Virtue Role of Madness and Desire Plato mentions in the Symposium that divine madness is a gift of the Gods. The Forms themselves do not actively seek humans; they do not call humans to the ascent. The human must act rightly, and that right action will create the call. When a man participates in beauty by beholding the beloved that stirs a recollection of pure beauty and spurs the lover on to seek the ultimate in beauty. Sexual passion, or madness and desire, and a passion for beauty drive the lovers on. [...]
[...] Despland, The Education of Desire, p Rist, Eros and Psyche, p Rosen, Plato's Symposium, pp. 36–37. Cobb, Plato's Erotic Dialogues, p Andrew Louth, The Origins of the Christian Mystical Tradition: From Plato to Denys (Oxford Clarendon Press, 1981), p Stanley Rosen, Plato's Symposium (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1968), p Ph. 255–256. Ph., 246a–d. Ph Ph Cobb sees the language of 251, describing the sprouting of the wings, as a metaphor for erection and ejaculation. He is therefore confused by Plato's other statements against homosexual relations (Ph. [...]
[...] The effect of Erōs begins with physical attraction for one person and produces conversation. Its ultimate goal is achieved only when the man devotes himself to philosophy. His new understanding is taken back to daily life. In other words, the fecundity of heterosexuality produces children, while the fecundity of homosexual connection produces right action. The one thing that women can do that men cannot—bear children—is inferior. Men can give birth to what is more important—thought, justice, and right action—with other men. [...]
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