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Socratic Political Philosophy in Xenophon's Symposium

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This interpretative commentary recovers the largely overlooked significance of a work that illuminates, by portraying in a subtle comic drama, the new perspective on existence, the new way of life, that Socrates introduced in and through his founding of political philosophy. The famous “problem of Socrates” as a turning point of world history (Nietzsche) remains a cynosure of controversy and puzzlement. How did Socrates understand the character of, and the relation between, civic virtue and his own philosophic virtue? What is the meaning of Socratic “eros”? What kind of educative influence did Socrates intend to have, on and through his varied followers and associates? And what diverse effects did he actually have? Xenophon's Symposium, viewed in the context of his other writings, affords a playful, but thereby deeply revealing, perspective—from the viewpoint of a slightly skeptical intimate.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: University of Texas at Austin

Publication date: January 1, 2010

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