The Significance of Alcibiades’ Speech in Plato’s Symposium

  • Rolf M. Johnson


Critics of Plato’s theory of love have maintained that he misrepresents the love of persons, treating them merely as a means to the love of the Good or as an image of the Idea in them, rather than the person herself. Other critics claim that Plato sees love as a purely acquisitive and egocentric desire that is fundamentally at odds with an ethical love such as Biblical agape. I will argue that the second of these criticisms is just wrong, and the first, overstated. Regarding the egocentric thesis, I will attempt to show that Plato views love not merely as a desire to possess, but also as a generative urge to create. Special attention will be given to the speech of Alcibiades in addressing both of these charges.