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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 Activity of Erōs

Socrates' Speech: The Activity of Erōs

(p.112) 4 Socrates' Speech: The Activity of Erōs
Plato's Symposium

Frisbee C. C. Sheffield (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

This chapter explores Socrates argument for the proper activity of eros: philosophical activity. Since eudaimonia is the aim of all eros and its proper end (telos), our choice of good must be one that will satisfy this desire: it must be a good whose possession no longer requires us to ask of the agent what she wants in pursuing it, something desired for its own sake, a final good. It is argued that the issue that structures the division of the productive activities of different desiring agents into the lower and higher mysteries is what we might term a division of ends. The desiring agents of the lower mysteries pursue things that are chosen for the sake of something higher, whilst the desiring agent of the higher mysteries pursues that which is chosen for its own sake. The chapter goes on to give some content to this idea, and argues that contemplation of a supremely valuable object — the Form of beauty — satisfies the criterion for being a final good. Contemplative activity is not desired for anything beyond itself, and it is a secure good in the sense that it is true, and a state of the agent's own soul, not dependent on external events for its possession. It is also the fulfilment of our nature and godlike.

Keywords:   ascent, virtue, honour, contemplation, nous, godlike

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