Socrates and Diotima - Andrea Nye - Palgrave Macmillan

In Plato’s Dialogue ‘The Symposium’, Socrates recalls Diotima's teaching that the desire for one beautiful man's body is just the first rung on a ladder that leads up to the appreciation of the Form of beauty, and so is merely a means to the higher end of appreciating the abstract idea. Watch the short animated video below to learn more:

carved the statues of Socrates and Diotima for the sum of £75 each

bce athenian groups socrates diotima plato aristotle xenephon first

On Love [and Infatuation]: Socrates and Diotima

So while love constitutes a desire for all kinds of good things and happiness, those who are money-makers, athletes, or philosophers are not normally called "lovers." Diotima dismisses the idea (that was put forth by Aristophanes) that lovers are in search of their other half, claiming instead that lovers love what is good. We would be willing to have limbs amputated if we thought they were diseased and bad, suggesting that we only want to be attached to what is good. Socrates and Diotima agree that love is the desire to have the good forever.

Il Simposio-Dialogo fra Socrate e Diotima

Having been convinced that Love is not beautiful or good, Socrates asks Diotima if that means Love is ugly and bad. Diotima argues that not everything must be either one thing or its opposite. For instance, having unjustified true opinions is neither wisdom nor ignorance. Wisdom consists in justified true opinions, but one would hardly call a true opinion ignorant.

Western Australian sculptor Victor Hawley Wager carved the statues of Socrates and Diotima for the sum of £75 each.
Western Australian sculptor Victor Hawley Wager carved the statues of Socrates and Diotima for the sum of £75 each.

Bury, The Symposium of Plato, § iv

"This book is ambitious in scope. Nye first argues for a historically grounded reading of Plato's character, Diotima. Nye articulates a view of love and the divine that belonged to the historical Diotima. Nye engages in a thorough reading of the Symposium and other texts of the ancient Greek poetic, tragic, and philosophic tradition to support her reading of the authenticity of Diotima. Nye then traces how Diotima's view of love and the divine was suppressed and forgotten by the later western Christian tradition. She explores the cultural implications of that loss. This book stands to significantly alter the scholarly conversation about Diotima particularly and the role of the feminine in culture more generally." - Anne-Marie Schultz, Professor of Philosophy, Baylor University, USA "Andrea Nye has done something wonderful in rescuing Eros from the priestly theologies that would have us banish and condemn it. Seekers will find in Socrates and Diotima a philosophy deeply consoling as well as erotic in itself. Like Cynthia Bourgeault's tantric Jesus, Nye's Diotima will draw you upward and outward into realms of reconciliation where the human dances with the divine and it may be possible to fall in love all over again with goodness, truth, and beauty." - Jean Feraca, Wisconsin Public Radio, USA and author of Crossing the Great Divide "Nye gets into the mind of Diotima to deconstruct philosophers' view of sexuality, reproduction, and divinity in such a clear and compelling way that it dissolves those milennia-thick veils that shroud the histories of philosophy and religion. Nye shows that Diotima's conception of divinity and its relation to reproduction is not only a distinctively feminist one, but also one that undermines those surviving traditional conceptions of a heterosexual masculist deity that have historically diminished, discriminated against, and disrespected women as spiritual, moral beings." - Mary Ellen Waithe, Professor Emerita of Philosophy and Comparative Religion, Cleveland State University, USA

Western Australian sculptor Victor Hawley Wager carved the statues of Socrates and Diotima for the sum of £75 each.

SparkNotes: The Symposium: 201d - 204c

In Socrates' account of his conversation about love with Diotima in the Symposium, he recalls that Diotima asks, "What is the function of love?" (206b3). Socrates responds that he would not be seeking wisdom from Diotima if he knew, to which she responds, "Then I'll tell you. ...It is giving birth in beauty both in body and in soul" (206b8-9). Socrates asks Diotima to elaborate, in reply to which Diotima states that "when something that is pregnant comes close to something beautiful, it becomes gentle and relaxes in the delight of procreation and giving birth. When it comes near something ugly, however, it recoils and turns away, frowning and distressed. It shrinks back and does not bring forth, but instead painfully continues to carry the foetus [sic] it contains" (206d4-8).

Socrates and Diotima?-or rather let me put the question more dearly, and ask: When a man loves the beautiful, what does he desire?

Socrates in his speech asserts that the highest purpose of love is ..

b The speech proper begins with a mythological derivation of Eros, in which his conflicting attributes as a —a being midway between gods and men—are accounted for by his parentage. Eros is at once poor, with the poverty of Desire which lacks its object, and rich, with the vigour with which Desire strives after its object. And in all its features the Eros of Socrates and Diotima stands in marked contrast to the Eros of conventional poetry and art, the divine Eros of Agathon.