Happiness and Contemplation of Beauty in Plato’s Symposium
: Philosophical thoughts in ancient Iran
Hamidreza Mahboobi Arani
Diotima’s speech in Plato’s Symposium is one of the most important parts of his works. The present paper exclusively examines the last of Diotima’s speech, where Plato uses some words and phrases focusing on the relationship between happiness and contemplation of beauty. Diotima claims that, only when a philosopher or lover (here, in love with Sophia) reaches the peak of his love and begins his contemplation of beauty, he could attain knowledge, happiness, and true eternity, but the question is, “How could this claim be interpreted?” The purpose of the author in this paper is to attract the attention of readers to the interpretive point that Plato’s understanding of the meaning of contemplation of beauty should be perceived in the context of an ethical and political program and in relation to the practical life of a citizen rather than within a purely abstract and theoretical inferential framework. The first part of this paper explains the intended problem through an investigation of different sections of Diotima’s speech. In the second part, with particular attention to Alcibiades’ speech, the author demonstrates that, in order to learn about Plato’s understanding of this problem, one must pay particular attention to the various dimensions of this speech. Finally, he concludes the paper by presenting an interpretation of Diotima’s last words based on a general reading of Symposium and, specifically, Alcibiades’ character and words.
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