1. 柏拉图爱(不爱)谁


Who did Plato (not) Love? Oxford Abridged Short Talks

From the goddess Aphrodite to CS Lewis' analysis of the four loves and their Christian manifestations, Greek's multiple ways of looking at the topic of love ...

I am a classicist

And one of the things I like looking at is

the relationship between ancient and the modern worlds

to think about the extent

to which the ancient world influences the modern world

and the different ways in which aspect of contemporary society

lend scope and understand ancient things

But today what I want to present you is a little bit of that

But also just basically one of the platonic texts that we still got

and its relationship with love

Think about understanding material

which continues to pose problems for us all the way through

Let's see if this works


We have all heard the term platonic love

And on a day like today

it's possibly not one that most want to receive those unsigned hugs

So I looked it up in the OED

What does it say means

Of love, affection, or friendship

intimate and affectionate but not sexual

Spiritual rather than physical

Now usually with a lower case initial

The lower case initial perhaps

is just a lost sub name of the Plato with a capital P

Lost something like a personalization

First of coincidences no he lived not to 1638 though

2000 years of Plato actually wrote about love

So it says to me that

something is happening throughout contemporary history

that changes our understanding of love

and its roots in its ancient history

It carries on through Robert annoying small versions though

Particularly hard if you want to have a look at that

So who was Plato to give this platonic love

Another fairly famous quotation about him from whitehead

The safest general characterization

of the European Philosophical tradition

is that it consists of a series of footnotes to Plato

Something a lot of us have heard

But a lot haven't necessarily thought about

what does it mean to follow in the way of Plato

And what is it that we have taken from him

I feel that in focusing on love as platonic concept

We have rather become Christianized

and the biblical texts and biblical use of love

sometimes take over a little

And what we get of people like CS Lewis in 1960 writing a book

called the four loves

drawing on Plato and a whole history of tones for love

based in the Greek language

We have agape

the Christian religious community love

felt for people in fellowship in koinonia

We have storge not a term which most people are familiar

The familiar love and affection within the households

And we have philia brotherly love, love between friends

But how much are these used in someone like Plato

I'd quickly look through the Greek corpus

We have all this done good

Agape used 83 times in Plato

but only 3 times in the main text on love

Don't think that kind of community love

It's quite what it is talking about

Storge not used at all until late literature

until Christian times

So it's definitely not there in Plato

Philia well philos meaning love

giving us philosophy love of wisdom

Philology love of words

All of those kinds of things

It's such a common prefix

But we have got 685 examples in Plato

with philia in it

Including 56 in a symposium

that I am gonna move on to

and 36 different variations

It's faulty common for me

to want to try to attach any meaning toward Plato's doing with it

which leaves us the fourth one


We get a term erotic love from it

again going to a defoliant psychology

The urge toward self preservation and sexual pleasure

It is distinguished from things like agape

as being specifically physical specifically sexual

and specifically psychoanalyzed quite often

And this is where Plato I think does become much more important

in understanding Greek concept of love

That are 382 uses of anything to do with Eros in Plato

100 of which are the name itself

And 74 of those hundred uses are in the one work

The symposium

So it's Eros not agape not storge not philia

that's important to symposium

So what is a symposium

What a symposium itself

It is a male only drinking party

where people gather to eat, drink, play games, discuss things

and possibly end up with routes of flute girls, dancing girls

and the like coming in to entertain them

Plato's text in particular deals with an evening post drama

It's an evening of they've drunk to excess

And they are coming and there're rule of hang over

But they decided to have a happiest party anyway

And they agreed at a stop

What are we gonna do

is not drink drink drink drink

but going to have very moderate thinking

What you have done rather more than usual

And they actually had a full on discussion about the nature of love

They decided they are going to eulogize love

And they are going to give us some fantastic stuff about it

But the whole thing to generate quite quickly

The symposium is introduced to us by someone called Apollodorus

Someone in the street says Apollodorus tell me

What happened to that famous dinner

And the Apollodorus says I don't know I wasn't there

But my friend was and he told me about it

So Apollodorus says

his friend Aristodemus told him about dinner

But Aristodemus didn't speak at the dinner

All he did was listen to everyone else

and memorize or summarize their speeches

So most of dinner is about people making speeches about love

But then finally you get to Socrates

And he doesn't give you a speech

He tells you the conversation he had with a woman called Diotima

So you got Apollodorus gave you

Aristodemus' words gave you

Socrates' words gave you Diotima's words

at which point you stop thinking Plato

of actually trying to convince you anything at all

other than process

that is something more going on him

than any kind of truth value

Within it we have got a series of speeches

which get significantly more silly if we go along as well

We suck of with people

claiming things about double loves and primordial loves

And then we come to the Doctor Eryximachus

And he says I am a doctor

What I can see is people need balance

people like music

He needs harmony to make things work

In medicine you need to make sure

people don't have too much one thing or too little of another

We can balance out the humans all that kind of thing

And for Eryximachus the doctor

Love is about finding that balance

giving people what they need

Taking away what they don't

Making things like harmonier

Most famously you then get Aristophanes

Eryximachus is only spoken

because Aristophanes is so busy hiccupping

He can't talk

And when he stopped hiccupping

He comes up with this wonderful myth

Originally there were three kinds of human

There were humans there were man-man, women-women and man-women

Double headed four limbed fantastic

Got to beat that boots, topped giving Zeus what is due

So Zeus got crossed

Split and down in middle

told Apollo to turn their heads around

so they can see split

I, tell me (INAUDIBLE)

And people spend the rest of their live looking for their other half

And then we come across Derdia of Eros

as a beautiful lovely young boy

Agathon comes in

Agathon in whose honor this party is being thrown

or in the aftermath Agathon is winning that tragic concepts

The gorgeous boy

But Socrates isn't very happy about that

Because Socrates starts saying things that

Well if you are chasing something beautiful

Can you be beautiful yourself

Does it make any sense to chase what you have already got

or are you gonna be looking for what you don't have

But definitely in no way

Eros can't be nice

And actually Eros is summation of what is lacking

Eros is grossly Eros is horrible

Eros is old seeking youth

Eros is the son of poverty and plenty

lacking in everything

but willing to find resources

This is the mentor Socrates playing around some ideas

If you are constantly lacking something

Are you going to remove it from whoever you seek it in

Or are you gonna to contribute back again

Where in Plato's model of this work

It sometimes seems feel like a very top down model

And I think thankfully I have come to conclusion

that there is room if you look at Eryximachus

for that balance to be restored

without destruction to whatever supplying it etc.

But what you do get is this overactive sense of lack

For Eryximachus we lack harmony

For Aristophanes it's your lack in your other half

For Socrates we are lacking full understanding of auto to kalon

Auto to kalon the beautiful itself

which related to come to discuss as truth and goodness itself

So all the way through he has talked about things

in a slightly economical fashion

This ridiculous overacting narratives framework

He has had resilience from there

He has had hiccup

Several kind of things happening

And I think the symposium is most about how to learn

is that it's about what love is

He teaches it through lecture Eryximachus tells us

he teaches it through myth through Aristophanes tells this

He teaches it through narrative

through apollodorus was getting what's happening at the dinner

He teaches it through elenchus through questioning

Socrates pulling out of agathon

why Eros can't be that gorgeous boy

And he teaches it through dialogue

Socrates and Diotima discussing

what they feel really is going on with love

We get all kinds of phrases from Plato

But back I think straight from Plato

is love conquer everything

which is there in Agathon

Love is a many splendored thing

We are not according to plato

It's not

because you wouldn't be seeking many splendored things

Love lifts us up where we belong

Maybe that is

It it's about yearning it's about searching it's about going upwards

Seeking a best we can be for ourselves

I will always love you

when if love is partly a yarning

That as human being we are always going to be yarning

And that's what is gonna be an active love

this kind of modern thing do

have some kind of role in understanding Plato

So when we think I have come to think it now

is that it's not just a question of who Plato loves

It's the question of what Plato loves and how Plato loves

And what he loves is truth education and community

What we have got here are three images

based on a late poem about love

as a bitter sweet obsessed yarning

From Kotlas

And I think that ambiguity is what Plato leaves us with

And I very much hope that no one does say to me in the immediate future

that they always do is love me platonically

because I am not sure what I am gonna know they mean