This is a preprint
Abstract

Given culturally imposed limitations on women’s participation in intellectual pursuits, it is behooves us to explore a wide spectrum of sources when searching for women philosophers in the annals of human history. In ancient Greece, Socrates expounded the philosopher of Diotima in Plato’s Symposium; in Heian Japan Murasaki Shikibu penned the world’s first psychological novel, The The Tale of Genji, layered with Buddhist insight. Their common themes are beauty, love, longing, and liberation grounded in idealization. The essay is structured as a dialectical exchange between theory and praxis, by applying Diotima’s theory of eros and beauty to the main characters in Murasaki’s novel. We then analyze why the title character, Genji, like Alcibiades in the Symposium, fails to realize the erotic mission outlined by Diotima. Finally author Murasaki’s alternative Buddhist theory of love is extrapolated from the lives and thoughts of her central female characters.

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