Ever wondered about the nature of love? What is it, really? Do people only fall in love with those that are beautiful? What is its relationship with desire? In this class, we will see how one ancient Greek philosopher, Plato, strives to address these questions. In particular, we will closely study his renowned work, the Symposium (where the notion of Platonic Love comes from). We will spend the entire semester only reading this one dialogue, and we will read it twice!
This class combines philosophy and literature. That means we will consider, on the one hand, “what the philosopher says”, seeking to understand how the arguments work. On the other, we will think about “how the philosopher says it”: we will pay attention to the choices Plato makes as a writer, scrutinizing literary elements. We will ask questions such as: Why does Plato write through the voice of Socrates? Why does Plato devote pages to things that don’t seem immediately relevant to philosophy, such as the flute girl and hiccuping?
This class welcomes both philosophy and non-philosophy majors, freshmen to seniors. If you are a Philosophy or English major frustrated with having to rush through 300 pages per week, this class will be great for you! If you have no background in philosophy but are interested, this class is a great place to start.
Doing the reading (around 20 pages per week) every week is essential for discussions. For the short paper assignment for this class, students can choose to write a short Socratic dialogue, or a creative short story, or an academic essay. Attendance is mandatory.
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