Eros, Otherness, Tyranny: The Indictment and Defence of the Philosophical Life in Plato, Nietzsche and Lévinas
Author: James McGuirk
Publisher: Verlag Bautz
Book Description: In several of Plato’s dialogues, Socrates claims to be an expert on only one topic, love. He can claim such expertise because love, unlike justice, piety, or courage, is not so much a theme to be delineated, but is the motivating force that defines the life of philosophy. To be a philosopher is, as the etymology of the word suggests, to be a lover.
But what kind of love is it that characterizes the life of philosophy, and how does it relate to other kinds of love? Specifically, what are the implications of the philosopher’s love of wisdom for the realization of the interpersonal forms of attachment that are necessary for ethics and politics to be possible?
I explore this question in the present study though a close reading of Plato’s Symposium and through comparative readings of Friedrich Nietzsche and Emmanuel Lévinas, in which several indictments and defences of philosophy are explored. I argue that the trial of philosophy hangs ultimately on the meaning of philosophical eros, and that while eros can involve impulses toward tyranny and the subjugation of otherness, it is finally understood by Plato in terms of a subtle balance, in which the acquisitiveness of eros is enframed by a more fundamental affective attunement to the Good in Being. According to this reading, eros is not only compatible with ethical and political forms of the interpersonal, it is their condition of possibility.
Editors: Catrine Torbjørnsen Halås, Ingjerd Gåre Kymre and Kari Steinsvik