Symposium by Plato

Socrates, Alcibiades, and the Pursuit of Beauty College

The logistical problems of everyday human life are often concerned with the pursuit of love and beauty. The impracticalities of actively chasing after phenomena that we do not fully understand are considerable – unless, of course, you’re Socrates. In Plato’s Symposium, Socrates, in his spoken recollection of a conversation with the priestess Diotima, attempts to define love, and outlines a clear, step-by-step method of how to fully appreciate love by pursuing beauty and knowledge. These stages of the pursuit of beauty, a “ladder of love”, are analyzed as a practice when Socrates’ would-be lover Alcibiades gives a speech both praising and criticizing the old philosopher and his way of life. Alcibiades’ speech reveals the implications, both positive and negative, of following Socrates’ teachings in a material manner, and reveals the ultimate impacts of the pursuit of beauty.

Socrates’ speech is hardly ambiguous in detailing how a lover ought to engage with beauty. The speech, Socrates’ retelling of a dialogue between himself and Diotima (likely an invention of Socrates), first defines Love. Love is, to Diotima, a being in between man and god, a clever child of Wherewithal and Wit who spends his time hunting for truth and wisdom ....

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