Love and madness in Plato's Phaedrus
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The central thesis of the dissertation is that in the Phaedrus philosophy is presented as a kind of madness in a strict sense, that is to say, the claim is not that philosophy is necessarily unappreciated by the many, hence considered by their standards as insane, but that the philosophical soul is in a way not in rational control, but in a state of mind that can fairly be defined as madness, and that the philosophical life is arranged in order to visit or revisit this state of mind. Socrates’ account of eros and madness is based on his account of the soul, thus the first chapter shall give a close reading of Socrates’ account of the soul. The second chapter, in turn, interprets Socrates’ account of eros in light of his account of the soul. The third chapter, again, looks into Socrates’ depiction of eros as a certain kind of madness in light of the first two chapters, focusing respectively on the following three characterizations: madness as the opposite of sōphrosunē, madness as the opposite of tekhnē, and madness as the core of the best human life, namely, the philosophical life. This dissertation, hopefully, gives a faithful interpretation of Socrates’ account of eros in the Phaedrus on the one hand, on the other hand reveals the rationale behind Socrates’ conception of eros and its highest form, philosophy, as a kind of divine madness. By doing so, I wish to contribute to our understanding of Plato’s Socrates and his life as a paradigm of philosophy.
Thesis, PhD Doctor of Philosophy