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Plato's SymposiumThe Ethics of Desire$
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Frisbee Sheffield

Print publication date: 2006

Print ISBN-13: 9780199286775

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2007

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199286775.001.0001

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Socrates' Speech: The Aim of Erōs

Socrates' Speech: The Aim of Erōs

(p.75) 3 Socrates' Speech: The Aim of Erōs
Plato's Symposium

Frisbee C. C. Sheffield (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

This chapter examines Socrates' account of the aim of eros. At different points in his speech, Socrates specifies three aims of eros: the good, reproduction in beauty, and immortality. This chapter argues that those three aims are, in fact, related under the more general desire for eudaimonia, the everlasting happiness characteristic of the divine. The desire for eudaimonia is the telos, the true end of all erotic striving. According to Socrates, we desire a good whose possession we believe to constitute that state, and one which can be had in an enduring way. The desire to reproduce in a beautiful environment is the characteristic activity of this desire for the good, because productive activity is the mortal approximation to the divine state. The reason why the desire for eudaimonia manifests itself in creative activity in the presence of beauty is because this is the distinctively mortal way in which it can achieve a share of divine happiness.

Keywords:   telos, eudaimonia, final good, pregnancy, reproduction, ergon, beauty, the kalon, the oikeion, mortal nature

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