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The Origin And Nature Of Humankind In Plato's Symposium

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Chapter Summary

In the Symposium, Plato attempts to show how there can be a mediation of the division between humanity and divinity through Eros. In Aristophanes’ speech on origin of humankind Plato presents an account which maintains that there is a limited human good and human autonomy which can be preserved against a direct relation to the Good Itself. Aristophanes’ speech is consistent with the terms of Hellenic religion. Against this position, Socrates, in his account of the ladder of love, argues that there is only one good, the Good Itself and all other apparent goods are regarded as insubstantial and illusory. This chapter examines Aristophanes’ account of origin of human nature and the tension between his account of Eros and that of Socrates in the Diotima section of the dialogue. In Symposium, Socrates responds to the accounts of Aristophanes, the comic poet, and Agathon, the tragedian, on the nature of Eros.

Keywords: Aristophanes’ speech; divinity; Eros; Hellenic religion; human origin; nature of humankind; Plato; Socrates; Symposium



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