In liminal tension towards giving birth: Eros, the educator

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Szakolczai, Árpád
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The discussion on the nature of Eros (love as sexual desire) in Plato’s Symposium offers us special insights concerning the potential role played by love in social and political life. While about Eros, the dialogue also claims to offer a true image of Socrates, generating a complex puzzle. This article offers a solution to this puzzle by reconstructing and interpreting Plato’s theatrical presentation his argument, making use of the structure of the plays of Aristophanes, a protagonist of the Dialogue. The new image of Socrates, it is argued, signals Plato’s move beyond the way he envisioned so far his master, best visible in his introducing Diotima, a prophetess who takes over the role of guide from Socrates; and by presenting the truth about Socrates through Alcibiades, cast into the role of a boastful intruder, a central figure in Aristophanes’ comedies. Eros and Socrates are both ‘in-between’ or liminal figures, indicating that Socrates is still entrapped in the crisis of Athenian democracy. The way out, according to the new philosophy of Plato, lies by redirecting Eros from the hunting of beautiful objects to be possessed to elevating the soul to the essence of beauty as a primary means for further generating beauty, in particular through engendering and educating children, thus reasserting a harmonious co-existence with the order of the cosmos.
Comedy , Education , Eros , Imitation , Liminality , Modernity , Socrates , Theatre
Arpad Szakolczai (2013) 'In liminal tension towards giving birth: Eros, the Educator'. History of The Human Sciences, published online 26 March 2013. doi: 10.1177/0952695113478242
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The final, definitive version of this paper will be published in History of the Human Sciences, 2013 by SAGE Publications Ltd, All rights reserved. © Arpad Szakolczai 2013.