Comparing Love Speeches by Agathon and Socrates in Plato's Symposium

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Comparing Love Speeches By Agathon And Socrates in Plato’s Symposium

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In “The Symposium” by Plato, speeches were made at a party by different speakers on their believed to be the definition of love. I will talk specifically, of two speeches made by Agathon and Socrates who had a similar idea to start with, but different ways of thinking. I will also indicate what makes Socrates’s speech philosophical and Agathon’s non-philosophical. In this paper, I intend to compare and contrast the speeches made by Agathon and Socrates.

Agathon’s speech is similar to Socrates’s speech in that they both believe they should first begin by stating the nature of love. But, Agathon states that love “is the happiest, because he is the most beautiful and best.”( Sym pg.35) Agathon is referring to love as a god; he believes he is the youngest of gods that never gets old. Since love is good and beautiful to him it must be associated with something with the same qualities. He doesn’t think this god can do any harm to anyone.

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On the other hand, Socrates thinks very differently of the nature of love. He doesn’t believe that Love is neither good nor bad but something in between. Socrates tells Agathon that, “Desire and love are directed at what you don’t have, what isn’t there, and what you need” and that,” Love is of something.” (Sym pg.44) So if love is towards something good and beautiful that we desire and don’t possess love can’t be completely beautiful and good because it can’t desire what it already has. They also agreed that gods could only be seen as good and beautiful, so Love can’t be a god. According to Diomata, the person who showed Socrates everything he knows about the topic, Love is not a god but a spirit.

Additionally, Agathon also speaks about Love’s wisdom. He says that “the god is so skilled a poet that he makes others into poets”.( Sym pg.37) He believes that this god is wise and whoever gets touched by him will automatically become a poet. This just adds to many of the good things that Agathon says about love. Agathon describes Love as the wisest among all gods and it’s necessary for all things. He thinks that a poet needs to be wise and to be wise he needs Love, without it it’s impossible to be something.

Socrates believes it a different way because Diotma told him that Love is the child of Poverty and Resource. She told him that, “love must necessarily be a lover of wisdom, and as a lover of wisdom, he falls between wisdom and ignorance “and that “his father is wise and resourceful while his mother has neither quality.” (Sym pg.50) She is saying that love is a lover of wisdom because, it doesn’t already have that quality and it’s seeking it. Love can’t be completely wise because like his mother, he is always in the need of something. He is also not ignorant because his father is resourceful and desires knowledge.

Lastly, the biggest difference between these speeches is that one is philosophical while the other one is not. Agathon is not speaking philosophically because he only talks about love in a good way he doesn’t question the idea or have the curiosity of the possibility that it can also have a bad side. Socrates’s speech is philosophical because he asks questions to Agathon in the beginning because he has a curiosity about what he thinks. He points out where he is wrong and creates a debate to prove that he is right. All of their different views I mentioned above make it clear that Socrates thought about the topic deeper that Agathon. Agathon didn’t seek to know more like Socrates did.

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