November 11th, 2018
Socrates and Alcibiades reappear at a party attended by several characters who decide to take turns praising Eros. As the dialogue progresses, we learn there is much more to love, or rather to "eros," than sexual desire, and the characters’ conversation moves on to numerous other topics, including politics, law, and philosophy.
Symposium is a drinking party were men come together to celebrate.
They had celebrated the victory of one of their poet friends the night before. They got very drunk and decided that they could not do it again tonight. So they got rid of all of the flute girls and the entertainment. For tonight they decided to have a conversation about Eros. Everyone goes around the room talking about Eros. Each speech becomes increasingly sophisticated and synthesizes parts of the previous one, and is in part a response to the previous one.
Alcibiades gives the most moving speech on love.
Military type + philosopher makes picture.
Self-sufficient philosopher (Socrates) dragging along another guy (Aristodemus) to this party who was not invited (by Agathon)… Socrates hangs back and lets Aristodemus go first... very strange that this happened. Socrates references something from a Homer line: "When two go together". This quote references a military action, which is a raid in the Iliad carried out by Achilles and Diomedes at night, which was very exciting. The thought seems to be that two heads are really better than one. Some things two heroes can perform better than one.
Philosophy is an erotic activity. Not sexual. Yearning to be a better self — for ongoing growth and to maintain yourself as much as you can in your highest self condition. That is what all these other people represent. Passion and intellect split between Socrates and Alcibiades.
Need two things for philosophy. (1) Combat: literal but also (2) Learning.
Interlocutor: Agent and Reagent. If alone is an elementary particle and not reacting to anything then you're not going to change because entropy dissolves it a little bit. Bit more chaotic: Have these different reagents and react a certain way.
When you're with a unit and training with the unit and there with other people who have same standards and practices you’re supposed to have then you are a squared away type. When "Liberty" call happens, you are going to the bar and getting wasted then you have to show up the next day wasted for PT. Alcibiades wants that. Is he the ideal? You cannot have one without the other (debauchery and intellect) — two aspects of single soul.
(Talk about god splitting precursor to humans into two): According to Greek mythology, humans were originally created with four arms, four legs and a head with two faces. Fearing their power, Zeus split them into two separate parts, condemning them to spend their lives in search of their other halves.
Alcibiades is wilder, spirited aspect. But never a perfect union between the two.
The unity of Combat and Classics is the unity of Socrates and Alcibiades.
Problem with Eros: Too cosmic it does too much, too tragic…
When you put people together what happens? They tend to want to think big. To take down the gods.
"Active and contemplative life". They do end up challenging the gods — power structure of Athens. Socrates threatens power structure of Athens. Alcibiades flees to Sparta.
When lover stops finding the beloved attractive there will be some hostility.
Perhaps they just long for the same thing, and being together is the eventuality of that?
Tyrannical inclinations: Want to take on big projects. Is that these two want to rule other people? Rule themselves? Break down existing structures? Challenge authority?
Circular humans: Can go from two to one or they may be stitched together crudely.
They plot to overthrow the gods, not because of gods have something they want but — just because they were so complete on their own — that existence of God seems superfluous to them. Maybe they just felt the conditions of their own flourishing were in their own power, so that gods in addition were unnecessary and not taken seriously. Not tyrannical directly but as an afterthought.
(Sidebar Commentary: Artificial Intelligence?)
Combining tragedy with comedy. Usually either one or the other. Can these coexist? Can we tie together by looking at shared Eros.
Self love depends on having "otherness" in you. One aspect of a soul looking at another aspect of a soul. Alcibiades opening up Socrates in seeing that he has got a wonderful soul. And genuinely appreciating it for its beauty.
If you just let your passions rule you and you ignore your philosophic side — whether that is in combat or generally. If you look at battle as just two people with rocks and whoever crushes the other one more efficiently win, then that is not philosophically the case because you are going to pay the consequences of that. Jonathan Shay talks about moral injury. On the other hand, you cannot approach battle in a purely philosophical way and when bullets start flying you go "Are these bullets really flying? Is this person really my enemy?" You cannot have it that way either. You need to have balance between the two, and calibrate the philosophic with the passionate to have them balance out. (Greek Moderation)
* Preserving the balance.
* Admiring seeing the other side as other.
We don’t want to win that battle necessarily— to dominate the other — because we do not want to eradicate the other viewpoint or reduce it our own (David and God wrestling). Instead, very good both of them remain alive and have friendship between them. If the will to power is a part of us — and is instinctual — it’s better off that that is not possible to have a completeness in that — that there is some other interlocutor that is going to balance it but maybe you cannot do it yourself. Maybe if you let it fully grow within you — that will to power or will to as what Socrates does in beginning of dialogue where he stops and stands there and has an internal conversation with his Daemon — that’s not the full existence of man either.
What is Socrates doing on the porch? He does it on the battlefield too. Recurring theme with him…
Anselm Feuerbach (1869) re-imagines a scene from Plato's Symposium, in which the tragedian Agathon welcomes the drunken Alcibiades into his home.
[Combat and Classics, Ep. 6: Plato’s Symposium](http://combatandclassics.org/2017/07/05/ep-6-platos-symposium/)
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