For the past two weeks, which also happen to be my first two weeks, we have been discussing Plato's Symposium and the nature of love. Joseph Homer noted that Plato considered the ultimate end of "the good" is happiness. Jonathan Homrighausen contributed that Plato pointed out that love, being a hunger for "the good" and "the beautiful," leads us up from lesser goods and lesser (i.e., physical) beauty, to true goodness and true beauty. I asked whether this love, this hunger that we know intuitively (as Plato pointed out), being "common to all," saves Plato from committing the fallacy of reification, when he asserts that "good" and "beauty" are 'real' ultimates--because a hunger that is common to all does not 'evolve' unless that for which we hunger (i.e., food, "the good") 'really' exists. (Of course Plato was not aware of the theory of evolution just yet.) Does our hunger, including the survival instinct and instinct to procreate (examples used by Plato), necessarily mean there is a real 'ultimate good' and a real 'ultimate beauty'--or does our hunger lead us to make it up (reify it)? See this article for my take.
Professor Monast pointed out, after asking if we love the individual or their positive (universal) attributes (paraphrasing), that Plato did not believe that when we love, we love the individual--instead, we love the universals ("the good" and "the beautiful") within the individual. Jonathan Homrighausen supported this by reading from the text (in the neighborhood of 210). My translation reads, "all the beautiful things elsewhere partake of this beauty in such manner, that when they are born and perish it becomes neither less nor more and nothing at all happens to it."
Elizabeth Sanchez wisely pointed out that when we use the word love, it means different things depending on what comes after the word love, and when we use the highest form of the word love, we don't mean "I only love the good things about you" we mean "I love you, warts and all" (paraphrasing), or, as Professor Monast humorously put it, "I love you even when you pick your nose," or, as Robin Williams, as psychologist Sean Maguire, put it in Good Will Hunting--"even when you fart in your sleep." Jim Pack chalked this up to our modern, romantic conceptions of love, which Plato did not have in mind, and left me with the question, "When we love others rightly--do we love the person, warts and all--or do we love 'the good' in them (despite the warts, which we don't love)?" This question, and where I am at with it, is posted in a discussion here, on the group's Facebook discussion forum.
Join us! :)
February 24, the group is planning a mock conference of the philosophy of mind conference they attended January 23 in Santa Clara, at which Dennett and Searle made presentations.
March 31-April 3 the group will be attending the 84th annual meeting of the American Philosophical Association in San Francisco.