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Plato's Phaedrus

The Philosophy of Love

by Graeme Nicholson

Publication Year: 1999

The Pbaedrus lies at the heart of Plato's work, and the topics it discusses are central to his thought. In its treatment of the topics of the soul, the ideas and love, it is closely tied to the other dialogues of Plato's "middle period," the Pbaedo, the Symposium, and the Republic

Published by: Purdue University Press

Series: History of Philosophy

Title Page, Copyright

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pp. ix-x

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pp. 1-12

The Phaedrus lies at the heart of Plato's work, and the topics it discusses are central to his thought. It treats the human soul, not only its interior structure, but its origins and destiny as well; it offers one version of Plato's theory of ideas; and it contains one of Plato's most extensive...

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Part One: The Voices of Philosophy

Socrates and Plato have left many marks upon our culture, and the strongest one perhaps is the stature they gave to philosophy by contrasting it with other forms of thought and speech. Plato's portraits of Socrates in dialogue with different characters, especially in the early works, give profile...

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1. Myth

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pp. 15-34

We treat myth first of all, a form of thinking and communicating that was far older than Plato and his philosophical text, but which he has woven into it. Myth is perhaps the most archaic sort of thinking, and philosophy, like rhetoric and history, rose up in opposition to myth in the fifth century. ...

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2. Rhetoric

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pp. 35-55

A great deal of the Phaedrus is devoted to the discussion of rhetoric. A t the beginning, Phaedrus reads to Socrates a speech written by Lysias that is supposedly the ne plus ultra of contemporary oratory. Then he challenges Socrates to compete with Lysias by offering a speech...

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3. Dialectic

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pp. 56-74

In the course of his critical treatment of rhetoric, Socrates makes repeated reference to the alternative that he sometimes calls dialectic (269b, 276e) and sometimes philosophy (278d, 279a). Dialectic is distinctive of Socrates, what differentiates his thinking from that of Phaedrus and Lysias...

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4. Writing

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pp. 75-88

Throughout part 1 we have been studying the different "voices" of philosophy—forms of discourse and communication that it may employ—with the aim of seeing how Plato brings them into a harmony. Part 1 as a whole is introductory to the study of the Great Speech, translated in part 2...

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Part Two: Socrates' Great Speech: Phaedrus 241d-257b

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pp. 89-106

SOCRATES: ... There, Phaedrus, that will do. Not another word shall you hear from me. You'll have to let that be the end of the speech.
PHAEDRUS: But I thought you were just halfway through and that you'd have as much to say about the nonlover...

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Part Three: The Philosophy of Love

This is a dialogue that celebrates Eros as a god, no mere demon or spirit intermediary between gods and mortals as in Diotima's speech in the Symposium. That is the cumulative point of the three speeches in the Phaedrus. The first two speeches constitute an abuse of the god and create...

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5. Two Speeches against Love: Phaedrus 230e-234c, 237b-241d

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pp. 109-124

Dialectic is certainly the ruling method of philosophy in the Phaedrus, and it forms the substructure of the work. The dialogue takes its start from a thesis against love by Lysias, which is then supported by a speech of Socrates, both of them in preparation for the counterthesis, the defense...

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6. The Gods: Phaedrus 241d-244a

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pp. 125-146

At 241d Socrates interrupts himself; his enthusiasm is ended, and he will say no more. He says (241e) that he has broken out into dithyrambs and even epic verse, due to the inspiration of the local nymphs; later (242b), he ascribes it to the inspiration of Phaedrus—in any case, he has been carried away. ...

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7. The Human Soul: Phaedrus 244a-250c

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pp. 147-173

An exposition of Socrates' Great Speech should start from its account of the soul, psyche. This will require reference to other Platonic works that treat the soul and to other books that give a more comprehensive treatment of Plato on the soul. But there is another context still for our study...

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8. Truth: Phaedrus 247c-250c

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pp. 174-195

We have explored something of the destiny that awaits the human soul. Yet the Phaedrus differs from the Phaedo in that its focus is less on the ultimate fate of the soul and more on the life of the soul in advance of incarnation. Socrates maintains in the Meno and Phaedo that we had an...

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9. Love and Beauty: Phaedrus 250b-257b

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pp. 196-212

In the section from 250b to 257b Socrates explores the true inner nature of love, stating his reply to the earlier speeches, in particular that of Lysias. In this way, we can see the speech, not only as an exercise in rhetoric, but as dialectic too, as it comprises the considered exploration of love...

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10. Politics: Phaedrus 257c-262c

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pp. 213-221

From Phaedrus 257c to the end of the dialogue at 279c, the tone of the text is different from that of the Great Speech in the middle of the dialogue. From the heights of eloquence and speculation we make an abrupt descent into an everyday world. Dramatically, this is accomplished by Phaedrus...


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pp. 223-228


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pp. 229-231

E-ISBN-13: 9781612490380
E-ISBN-10: 1612490387
Print-ISBN-13: 9781557531193
Print-ISBN-10: 1557531196

Page Count: 248
Publication Year: 1999

Series Title: History of Philosophy