Seton Hall University

Inside The Core This Week: Plato  

Greek Vase 320 picInside the Core this week, many classes examine Plato's Symposium, in which he recounts varied views of love, as told by guests at a banquet. In our Core I textbook, the two excerpted sections of this famous text are those by Aristophanes, the comic playwright, and Socrates. Aristophanes tells a fanciful myth about how humans used to be united into spheres consisting of two beings, but Zeus split them because of the violence and arrogance of humans. This, Aristophanes explains, is why humans so long for one another, looking for "that other half" that was once connected to them.

Socrates, however, presents a more complex and deeper look into love. A mysterious woman named Diotima had revealed to him what we now would refer to as the platonic ascent of love. First the love of a beautiful individual leads to appreciation of all beauty, and ultimately leads to an awareness and love for the goodness and beauty of God. We will find in Dante another depiction of this kind of ascent through through love to divine love, told in a Christian context and based on his love for Beatrice.

In our class we viewed artistic depictions of love, from Canova's Cupid and Psyche to Robert Indiana's famous "Love" depicted in psychedelic letters. Like the guests at Plato's depicted feast, people of all times have been fascinated by the various attitudes toward love and where it can lead those who experience it.

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  • Nancy Enright
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