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Simply through the dialogues, we can see how Socrates lived in a world where the male figure was dominant. From quick research I found that throughout most of Ancient Greek history, the role of women was "strictly relegated to the home. Women as a group had no voice in political, military, or civil matters". Even throughout every dialogue we have read, there has never been a physical female prescence engaging in conversation. It is as if Plato is unintentionally reflecting the time period, in that women were not able to enlighten others and obtain the knowledge like men had (this where I bite my tongue :) ). But Ed, until you brought this up I actually never realized that besides the fact that there are only males taking part in the conversations and exchanges, but the idea of "boys" and "older men" are surfaced. Not only are these ideas brought up, but they are in fact glorified, as if overlooking women at all costs.
However, I find it interesting that Socrates uses Diotimas' words to convey such strong passion and meaning in his speech about Beauty in the Symposium. Her words have in fact impacted him so much, that he strives to keep them alive and pass them on:
Such, Phaedrus and I speak not only to you, but to all of you were the words of Diotima; and I am persuaded of their truth. And being persuaded of them, I try to persuade others… That’s why I say every man must honor Love, I myself honor the activities of Love, practice them industriously, and encourage others to do so. Both now as always, I praise Love’s power and courage to the extent of my ability (212b).
So, maybe Ancient Greece wasn't a men's world after all. What do you guys think?
I'm going to play devil's advocate with you and argue that if "there is no real communication", than the dialogues are simply a waste of time, and defeat the purpose of what they are intended to do. If the purpose of these notorious philosophers is to get ideas through to one another and teach one another, than they are really going in circles because although one may be talking to another, they are going to come up with their own interpretation anyway. Therefore, whatever they say does not truly persuade or sink in because our own conscious "has a mind of its own" (no pun intended) and is going to automatically think what it wants and relate it to what we know (like the "dog").
In psychology, we discussed this phenomenon. The professor explained how language is simply sounds that are assigned to objects, so, when we see those objects, we subconsciously think about what we can relate them to or what we know, which is past experiences. Therefore, perhaps none of us will ever be quite “on the same page” because our perspectives and aspects of life are so extremely different in because of what we as individuals experience around us. What are the odds that another will have the EXACT interpretation and mental image as you during a discussion?
In his commentary, William S. Cobb explains how through obvious attraction and admiration towards Socrates, Alcibiades elaborates by telling "several stories of the deeds of Socrates", one of the deeds being "his ability to out-drink everyone without getting drunk". Keep in mind this "deed" is among others such as "courage in battle, imperviousness to the cold", etc. This single ability is among great capabilities and accomplishments, ones which easily earn recognition and praise. In other words, remaining unaffected by alcohol is an extremely powerful trait. Alcibiades' words easily reveal is strong passion towards Socrates. Cobb also says he portrays Socrates as "the ideal philosopher, the ideal personification on Love, and the ideal human being."
Sure, Socrates' ability may be "ideal", but perhaps it is not realistic, because all other humans are affected by alcohol with the exception of him. This is how Socrates is conveyed at a higher power and stance above everyone else, in mind and in mental strength and power.
The situations are comparable because they involve distorting an audience’s perspective and veering them from reality. Like the “artless art” of speech, marketing involves the audience or buyers who “don’t know the truth and have gone chasing after opinions” (262c). Like these speeches, marketing warps people’s perceptions and decisions. In these types of situations, Socrates says, “[p]eople are deceived and their opinions are contrary to the facts” (262b). Will this new and improved drink really give you the best energy? Will those new designer jeans really make your body look the best? Perhaps not, but they distort our clear view by brainwashing us and exposing us to their products in the movies, TV, music, and the entire media what would be “best” for us.
But perhaps when all is said and done we are the ones to blame. Maybe we are too busy “chasing after opinions” and concerned with what other people think that (in Socrates’ world) we cannot realize a speech given to us is not truthful information, or that (in our world) you do not absolutely NEED this product to fit in or look “cool”.
Maybe if we took a step up and realized the REAL truths we wouldn’t be swept over by these wrongful “arts”.
This is exactly what has happened to us: lack. Lack of imagination, lack of effort, and lack of care. Everything now comes so easily to us that it is in fact ridiculous, and this story Socrates tells could be indeed the very start of it all. I personally think that we learn best by DOING and experiencing. What can we honestly gain from looking at black characters on a computer screen? How much are we honestly able to soak in? I completely agree with Thamus in that such innovations (not exactly letters and writing, but our current day ones) are in fact potions, potions that make us lazy and prohibit us from growing and learning.
I think the more technological a society becomes, the more it stunts people’s growth, socially, physically, and intellectually. Think about it, when is the last time you went to the library, browsed through the isles, checked out a book, and read it? When professors tell you you have an assignment or research paper due, is your immediate reaction to go to the library or to search on google? I’ll be large amounts its google. Even social growth is effected by technology. We are not exposed to other people half as much as we should be, whether it be through confrontations, arguments, or simple conversations. We are so wrapped up in texting and twitter and facebook that people rarely even pick up the phone to talk anymore never mind face to face. How will we ever learn about human nature and about life if we do not truly surround ourselves by it and engage in it?
Everything is at our fingertips. Our country is currently faced with a serious epidemic known as obesity. Further than intellectual, we are even too lazy to do physical activity. How sad has civilization come, that we are no longer only too lazy to think and speak and converse, but we are literally too lazy to even move?
And the saddest part is, it is growing at a rapid pace. Look at how far we’ve come from Socrates’ world. Look at how far we’ve come from a decade or two ago. Yes, the more technology that is out there, the more accessible information is to us. But information can be found in many other ways than the computer screen. What about conversation, talking with people? What about DOING things, and having experiences? What about seeing the world for yourself, going to a museum or looking at art?
The only thing I am left wondering is what can we do about it? I mean ultimately, it is really not our faults. We cannot help that this is what our world has become. Although technology makes everything easier, it also only enables us to be half the humans we are capable of being.
Socrates does indeed allude to the idea that madness (through art) should not be portrayed in a bad light BECAUSE the gods and powers greater than us are so heavily involved. This is an extremely controversial as well as compelling argument. I understand exactly what you are saying in one of the arguments you bring up: why are people glorified for their art if they are merely expressing what the gods have given them? If they do not have to work at it, than what is there to be praised? I believe that in human nature, we give more empathy and recognition to those who work, those who strive, and those who suffer. If a talent or art is simply “handed” to them by the gods, it is as if they are taking the easy way out and there really should be nothing to truly admire.
But the bottom line is, I don’t think we’ll never truly know whether a gift such as art comes from a power that is greater than us. I think that it is up to personal interpretation and one can individually choose whether they should gratify such an artist or if they should not.
I want to take this a step further and discuss how Socrates relates LOVE, like art, to madness. In his second speech he says, “If it were a simple fact that madness is evil, that [gratify someone who does not love] would be good advice, but as it is, the greatest goods come to us through madness that is given as a divine gift”(244a). The keyword here is GIFT. If madness brings “gifts” such as art, than is love in fact a “gift” as well? We have established that Socrates clearly believes the divine is involved with these aspects of human nature, but in that matter, is the divine equally influential on love as well?
Is love, like art, a gift? I think the same debate on the source of art can be applied to that of love as well. Do we have to work at love, or does it come naturally, as a “gift” from the gods? Further, if love IS in fact a gift from the gods, why is it put on such a high pedestal if it is (like art) a “medium for divine expression”? If the madness and love that comes from the gods is in fact out of our control, why do we try so hard to find it and pursue it? Is it like a terrible drawer TRYING and insisting to create a beautiful masterpiece?
So, is “madness” a good or bad thing? And further, are “art” and “love” innate or things to work at? Or are the two not related at all? <div style="display:block;margin:6px 0 0"><a class="a2a_dd" href="http://www.addtoany.com/share_save">
Take a look at our contemporary world. Most romantic comedies and TV shows depict the story of a person who is on a journey looking for love. Girls, take “Sex and the City” for example. We follow these four women as they fall in and out of relationships, where LOVE is their top priority. They need it and want it, and are constantly on the lookout. It is as if we do not even allow love to happen naturally anymore because we try so incredibly hard to get it. But the catch is, these protagonists are everyday people like you and me, so someone on the hunt to fall in love is not so out of the ordinary. Have any of you ever heard the Dane Cook skit, “L.O.V.E”? Even Dane puts on a performance which mirrors and sort of makes fun of this world of love we are living in today. He uses a metaphor in which he comically relates love to a party: “When you don't have love, it's like there's a party going on, and everybody was invited, except for you. And you just happened to be walking by that house in the rain... (sigh) ‘I wasn't invited to this party’”. It is as if our culture constantly enforces the NEED for love. Have you ever witnessed a relationship where one person in it is not being treated right or how they should be, but they just ignore it? They refuse to believe it; they clutch on to that other person so strongly because perhaps love once existed there or maybe they convince themselves that one day it will. Not only do we allow love to blind us and change the people we are, but I think we have a fear instilled in us where we are terrified to be alone.
So in brief, yes, we can all definitely be slaves to love. Look around you, many are, and perhaps you yourself are one too.
In the CNN article, “Love, pleasure, duty: Why women have sex”, Psychologists Cindy Meston and David Buss conducted a study that asked women whether they had ever had sex for one of 237 reasons: “It turns out that women's reasons for having sex range from love to pure pleasure to a sense of duty to curiosity… Some women just want to please their partners, and others want an EGO BOOST”. The article, then goes further in-depth particularly on the effects sex has on self esteem, “Some sexual experiences that women in our study reported just had devastating effects and long-lasting negative effects on their feelings of self-worth," he said.
As you can see, having sex and “looking” for love and affection can actually result in long lasting, devastating outcomes that are opposite of effects desired in the first place.
Also, these women are taking on sex in ways that degrade them rather than raise their stance in society. The Sexual Revolution in the 1960’s empowered women, and was a major turning point in history for them, as it infringed on the double standard between men and women and further equalized them. Women were no longer on the pedestal below men and they were now also able to have sexual relations with multiple partners and be socially independent of men.
These current happenings you bring up in this post show the complete disregard women have of all this history, and their ignorance as to how far women have come and have fought and have worked, so that we can be as sexually independent as we are today. Now, their actions in fact degrade the perspective of women, as it proves their vulnerability and dependence on men. It is as if these present day girls are slapping all those who have fought (and are stilling fighting) for women in the face.
Suppose we are taking advantage (in a bad way) of this sexual freedom we as women now have. Are we working backward and finding ourselves less sexually independent?
Maybe we can’t handle all the sexual freedom we’ve been given.
By having sex as a “quick fix” we are violating the true purposes of sex, nature, relationships, and thus destroying the outlook of women in society. Not only do they hurt themselves individually, but women as a whole.
This is what bad sex is. And unfortunately, it is a shame that these women are blinded from the real joy, love, and passion that is supposed to come with REAL, “good” sex.