Kirk A. Shellko

            This paper examines why Plato’s Symposium is almost exclusively written in indirect discourse and how indirect discourse relates to Plato’s pedagogy in this work. More specifically, this paper examines how a full understanding of Plato’s Greek style and syntax coupled with a firm philosophical investigation reveals that a hitherto unexamined pedagogy emerges in the relationship between the erastés and the paidika.  In the numerous studies on the Plato’s Symposium, there has been a pervasive failure to couple a philological approach with a philosophical approach. For example, Terence Irwin separates Socrates’ from Plato’s thinking within the Platonic corpus in order to get at the philosophical argument while giving little attention to the dramatic elements in Platonic Ethics (1995). Stanley Rosen, on the other hand, in Plato’s Symposium (1999) places so much value on the dramatic interpretation that a straightforward examination of the philosophical teaching in Plato’s Symposium is all but lost.  Christopher Gill in “Dialectic and the dialogue form in late Plato” (2002) heads in the right direction in suggesting that each dialogue be read as an independent unit, yet he is - sometimes rightly - overly suspicious of cross-referencing in interpretation.

            By combining the philosophical with the philological approach to interpreting the Symposium and by keeping in focus Plato’s manner of questioning in other dialogues, I will show that Plato’s Symposium is a dialogue concerning two types of desire: somatic and intellective. According to Plato, both desires are desires for the Good made manifest in the relationship between the ¤erastés and the paidika. The Good is manifest, in as much as is possible, through recollection. This recollection manifests in two types of remembrance: cerebral and experiential. The two types of remembrance correspond to the two types of desire: somatic with experiential and intellective with cerebral. The two types of remembrance operate for the reader of the dialogue in the same manner that they operate for the characters within the dialogue; they are somatic and intellective activities. The indirect discourse Plato employs will be shown to be the stylistic equivalent to cerebral and experiential remembrance. Indirect discourse of the dialogue thrusts the reader into a recollective state and so the substance of the dialogue and the simple stylistic maneuver of indirect discourse operate together. Symposium’s dialogue brings the reader into a horizon of recollection such that the experiential remembrance is the reading of the dialogue and the cerebral remembrance is the stimulated thought. These two experiences bring about the Good within the reader in the same manner that the Good emerges from the speeches in dialogue form. In this manner the reader is made the lover and the dialogue the beloved and the dialogue is made the lover and the reader the beloved. 

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