(A lecture delivered by Ethel Tilley
December 14, 1937)
(N.B. The speaker held five ribbons knotted together.)
If you will see in this knot the thought of Plato, you see leading to it these five lines of earlier Greek thought: Heraclitus, the Eleatics, the Pythagoreans, Anaxagoras, and Socrates.
“Philosophy,” Plato wrote, “begins in wonder.” The first problem that excited truly philosophical “wonder” among the Greeks was the problem of substance or being or permanence and identity. “What”, Thales of Miletus asked about 585 B.C., “what abides in the flux of things? What unity is it of which all these multiplicities are forms? What is the one ultimate ground of the universe?”
Thales answered that ultimate reality is Water; his pupil Anaximander said it is a Boundless or an Apeiron; while his pupil Anaximenes said it is Air.
These men of Miletus had been assuming Change. After Anaximenes Change could no longer be taken for granted. Change was as much a problem as was Substance. Becoming was as much a problem as Being.
A problem in philosophy – or in mathematics or in one of the natural sciences, for that matter – is often just this: the recognition that one has been assuming a factor that ought first to be proved.
Heraclites of Ephesus and the Eleatics (named from their city Elea in southern Italy) raised the problem of Change. No matter what you name ultimate Reality – Water, Apeiron, and Air – why did it not always stay just that? Why did it become differentiated into the multiplicity of things that crowd us on our way through life? And if an ultimate substance such as Water, Apeiron, or Air does become differentiated, is it still Water or Apeiron or Air? Is there an Identity that persists? What does it mean to say that one substance becomes something else?
A thing has to be before it can Change. But after it has changed, it still has to be itself or you cannot say it has changed. How can anything Change and retain its Identity through the Change? Here is the problem of Being and Becoming, the problem of Change and Identity.
Heraclites was teaching in Ephesus about 500 B.C. About one hundred years later, Plato, still in his teens, was studying in Athens, among other subjects, philosophy under Cratylus, a disciple of the school of Heraclites.
Plato learned from Cratylus, the Heraclitean: Reality is a ceaseless flowing, Ceaseless change. Opposed to the view of Heraclites were the Eleatics. The Eleatics solved the problem of Change and Identity thus: there is no Change; Reality is Changeless, unmoving, an immovable Being. Your senses delude you when they present to you an oak tree which has grown from an acorn into a little sprout, from a little sprout into a sapling, from a sapling into a great tree losing its leaves and growing new ones, dropping acorns and growing new ones, finally falling and yielding itself to flame in your fire-place. Turn to Reason and learn that there is no Change; there is only solid, unchanging, persisting Identity of Being. For what cannot be thought cannot be. And only Changeless Being can be thought.
At the death of Socrates there were present, according to Plato’s report in the Phaedo, Euclides of Megara, and an Eleatic friend of Socrates. And after the death of Socrates, Plato spent a time with Euclides the Eleatic of Megara, and heard the Eleatic principles carefully expounded: What cannot be thought cannot be. Reality is Changeless Identity, solid, unchanging Being.
In his wanderings after the death of Socrates, Plato became acquainted with some of the committees of the Pythagoreans, disciples of that half-mythical figure of the sixth century B.C., Pythagoras. The Pythagoreans were a semi-philosophical, semi-religious brotherhood, and from them Plato learned the theory that Reality is of the nature of numbers — not such numbers as the Arabic numerals we use, but numbers as groups of dots forming figures, such numbers as those on dice and dominoes, suggesting the forms of geometry rather than arithmetic. The Pythagoreans spoke of these forms as if a limit impressed upon an unlimited and so producing the world of our experience. Plato’s theory of Ideas is developed directly from the Pythagorean numbers as Forms. Plato also may have derived some of the mysticism of his later life from these early associations with Pythagoreans, although a rationalist who is also a poet may be expected to have sufficient sources of mysticism within himself.
Plato was influenced only indirectly by Anaxagoras, who was a member of the circle of artists and savants at the court of Pericles in the fifth century B.C., and who died the year before Plato was born. Such influence as Anaxagoras exercised on Plato was related, not to the problems of Substance and Change, but to the problem of Cause.
As the Milesians had assumed Change, so they had assumed Cause. Heraclitus had hinted at Cause in a necessary law of Change which he termed logos, a term later to assume immense significance in Greek, Hebrew, and Christian philosophy. To the Eleatics cause was, of course, no problem. If Reality is Changeless Being, nothing ever really happens, and if nothing ever really happens, you don’t have to wonder what caused anything. Anaxagoras, in attempting to mediate between the Eleatics and Heraclitus in the problem of substance, found it necessary to add to his troubles the problem of Cause. Anaxagoras suggested that ultimate Reality is not one but many: an innumerable quantity of tiny seeds of different qualities, each seed having the permanence of Eleatic Being but able to change its position in relation to the others and so able to combine into shoes and ships and sealing wax and cabbages and kings and then to fall apart again.
Plato was twenty when he met Socrates, his second and most deeply influential teacher. Plato, the wealthy young aristocrat, gave up his poetry and all his other ambitions, to study philosophy with Socrates, the plain, ugly, humorous, carelessly dressed man of the streets, who occupied the dangerous position of “hero” to the young men of Athens during the years when Athens was sliding from the glory of the age of Pericles into the disgraceful political scandals and internal dissensions that led to the defeat of the Athenians,, first by the Spartans, and then by the Macedonians.
The greatest influence in Plato’s life was the influence of Socrates, and unfortunately the chief influence of Socrates on Plato I cannot describe to you. There was a kindling of spirit from spirit. And as a flame can burn with increasing brilliance after the flame by which it was kindled has been extinguished, so Plato’s genius burned more and more brightly as he matured during the forty years after the death of Socrates, but it was the glow of Socrates’ life and teaching that set Plato’s genius burning. Three or four specific inheritances Plato had from Socrates, none of them so important as the contagion of Socrates’ total personality. There was, first, the dialectical method, patterned on the question and answer of the dialogue and developed by Plato into the systematic moving from problem to problem until the nature of the whole is seen.
There was, secondly, the discovery, or the invention, of definition; that is, the attaching to a term to a meaning that must be recognized as valid by every rational person.
Third, there was the general term, or concept, which is the term “defined.” This definition of the general term or concept was in opposition to the contemporary sophistic teaching that man (meaning any individual man) is the measure of all things. If a term can be defined in a way to compel the assent of every rational mind, knowledge is not entirely relative to the individual knower, and the individual knower is not a conglomeration of mental vagaries; he is a sharer of a rational nature common on to all mankind and compelling the thought process in every person.
We say that “the concept” was a gift of Socrates to the world. Actually, the general term of Socrates was only an epistemological unit, that is, a unit of knowing, and it was confined to the field of ethics. It was Plato who developed the Socratic epistemological unit in the field of morality into the Concept of both metaphysical and logical validity.
I have said that the general terms Socrates investigated were in the field of morality, and the fourth inheritance of Plato from Socrates was his moral earnestness. As Professor Duvall writes in his book, Great Thinkers, published by the Oxford University Press, “Duty is a word for which the Greek language had no equivalent, yet ‘right Reason’ had for Socrates an authority with which no one dared trifle.” The words of Aeschyus, who died when Socrates was thirteen years old, must have been heard many times by Socrates and may have exercised determining influence on his growing mind.
While Time shall be, while Zeus in heaven is
Heraclitus: all Reality is Change. There is no permanent Identity. Plato: there is continual Change in the world of appearances. But the world of appearances is not Reality.
The Eleatics: Reality is Changeless Being, and what cannot be thought cannot be. Plato: above this changing world of appearances is a world of Ideas or Forms, rational Concepts, inaccessible to the senses, accessible only to Reason, like the Pythagorean numbers as Forms. This world is Changeless. The phenomenal world is only a faint copy of the eternal world of Ideas – not ideas as we are accustomed to think of ideas. The meaning we attach to the term “ideas” (these swiftly moving objects of our psychological processes) is the meaning given to the term by John Locke less than two hundred and fifty years ago. The Platonic world of Ideas has the permanence of Eleatic Being.
From Anaxagoras: Nous. Cause is of the nature of mind. Anaxagoras did nothing with his notion of Nous. Plato did. If Cause is of the nature of mind, he said, and then all things must be ordered for the best. That is, mind is purposive. It is in the Phaedo that Plato raises this point and starts the problem of teleology on its way down the road of philosophical thought.
From Heraclitus: the world of appearances is in continual Change. From the Eleatics: the world of Ideas is unchanging. From the Pythagoreans: the world of things is the result of the Limit, as Form impressed upon a formless Unlimited. The Forms constitute ultimate Reality. From Anaxagoras: Cause is of the nature of mind; therefore, there must be purpose in the universe, and the universe must be a unified, organic whole. From Socrates: the inspiration to make philosophy his life passion and to put moral interests first. (Plato, the poet, barred poets from his ideal Republic, from moral concern.) From Socrates, also, the Laws dialectical method, which Plato developed from the simple conversational dialogue of the early humorous dialogue in the Euthyphro to the logical processes of thought in the Parmenides, the Philebus, and the, in which the dialectical process in one person’s mind goes on as if by necessary steps from one link to the next in a chain of reasoning? It is as if you were stepping on the link of a chain which pushed up and bounced you to the next link, and that link bounced you to the next, and so on to the end of the chain. Once started on the dialectical chain you cannot escape its necessity. And Plato believed that the dialectical method is the only method for reaching ultimate truth. From Socrates, also came the definition and the general term or “concept,” employed by Plato not only in ethical, but in all philosophical inquiry.
Although the Pythagorean had said that Reality is of the nature of numbers, which are certainly entities for reason rather than sense, and though the Eleatics had said that what cannot be thought cannot be, although Anaxagoras had suggested timidly and vaguely that cause is of the nature of mind, and although Socrates taught in a practical way that moral virtues are real, Plato was the first man who both clearly understood and explicitly taught that the “incorporeal,” that is, the “bodiless,” is real. The Ideas or Forms have no body, no shape, no size, and no quantity. They are incorporeal, purely qualitative. They are of the nature of Idea that is ideal. And they are values.
Plato’s answer to the questions, “What is the ultimate ground of the universe? What abides in the flux of things?” Ideal values, values that can be apprehended only by the soul.”
You know, of course, that Socrates left no writings and that in almost all of Plato’s dialogues Socrates is the hero?
It is difficult, if not impossible, to separate the Socratic elements from the Platonic elements in Plato’s dialogues. I shall not bring that issue up this evening, but I am speaking rather carelessly of the views of Socrates and Plato interchangeably. I am more inclined to do this than some people are because of a way in which I read one short passage in the Phaedo:
On the day of Socrates’ death, when the friends that were gathered in his prison cell were mournfully asking what they should do without him as their teacher, Cebes the Pythagorean voiced the despair of them all:
“Where then, Socrates,” said he, “shall we find a good singer of such charms, since you are leaving us?” “Hellas, Cebes,” (Socrates) replied, “is a large country, in which there are many good men, and there are many foreign peoples also. You ought to search through all of them in quest of such a charmer, sparing neither money nor toil, for there is no greater need for which you could spend your money. And you must seek among yourselves, too, for perhaps you would hardly find others better able to do this than you.” “That,” said Cebes, “shall be done. ...”
I have no authority for my notion beyond my own imagination. But I have often thought that in that little insertion in the Phaedo. Plato was declaring his right to speak for his teacher and to develop his teacher’s thought as freely as if it were his own. Socrates had commissioned one of his followers; Plato accepted the commission. For, although Plato was ill and not present when Socrates died, he was one of “you” when “yourselves” designated Socrates’ disciples.
I have said that Plato defined ultimate Reality in terms of ideal values – values apprehended only by the soul. Plato stressed always the Reality of the inner life.
When Socrates and Polemarchus and Thrasymachus and Glaucon and Adeimantus were beginning the conversation about “Justice” which led to the constructing of an ideal commonwealth, Glaucon told the myth of the ancestor of Gyges. Although Glaucon did not tell the myth to illustrate the inward nature of true justice, you are sure as you read The Republic that Plato reported the myth to suggest to the acute reader, early in the work, that true justice resides in the inner man, not in outward acts that may appear just, but may have been planned to accomplish an unjust result. Immediately after telling the myth, Glaucon says, “It is the perfection of injustice to seem ‘just’ without really being so.”
And this is the myth:
“Gyges was a shepherd, so the story runs, in the service of the reigning sovereign of Lydia, when one day a violent storm of rain fell, the ground was rent asunder by an earthquake, and a yawning gulf appeared on the spot where he was feeding his flocks. Seeing what had happened, and wondering at it, he went down into the gulf, and among other marvelous objects, he saw (as the legend relates) a hollow brazen horse, with windows in its sides, through which he looked, and beheld in the interior a corpse – apparently of superhuman size – from which he took nothing but a golden ring off the hand, and therewith made his way out. Now, when the usual meeting of the shepherds occurred, for the purpose of sending to the King their monthly report of the state of his flocks, this shepherd came with the rest, wearing the ring. And, as he was seated with the company, he happened to turn the hoop of the ring round towards himself, ‘till it came to the inside of his hand. Whereupon he became invisible to his neighbors, who fell to talking about him as if he were gone away. While he was marveling at this, he again began playing with the ring, and turned the hoop to the outside, upon which he became once more visible. Having noticed this effect, he made experiments with the ring to see whether it possessed this virtue; and so it was that when he turned the hoop inwards he became invisible, and when he turned it outwards, he was again visible. After this discovery, he immediately contrived to be appointed one of the messengers to carry the report to the King; and upon his arrival he seduced the Queen and, conspiring with her, slew the King, and took possession of the throne.”
The question Glaucon raises is this: If there were two such rings in the world, would the man whom we know as “just” act differently from the man whom we know as “unjust?” In this myth is Plato’s statement in negative form that justice is a quality of the inner man. It is no observable act — for the test of your justice is: How would you act if you wore the ring of invisibility? And when Socrates has finally defined just men in the ninth book of the Republic, he adds, “and it makes no difference whether all men and gods find out their characters or not.”
Now, even justice as an inward quality of a human soul is not ultimate Reality, for each human soul has lost something of its Reality in becoming imprisoned in a body “like an oyster in its shell,” as Plato wrote in the Phaedrus. Justice in a man is justice only as it “partakes of” or is a “copy of” the perfect Idea or Form of Justice in the heaven of Ideas, the realm of true Reality.
The soul is, however, akin to the ideal Forms. It is skin to the invisible, the divine, and the immortal and wise. And when the soul disregards its bodily prison house (which is burdensome, and heavy, and earthly and visible) and ascends to the realm of the pure, of the everlasting, of time immortal, and the Changeless (I am quoting from the Phaedo) it has rest from its wanderings and remains always the same and unchanging and this state of the soul is called “wisdom.”
The more expert the soul becomes in freeing itself from the appetites and desires of the body, the more clearly it beholds the eternal values. Such beholding in mortal life is really a remembering. All learning, all study, for Plato, is a remembering of the forms of equality, of likeness, and unlikeness, of beauty, of love, of goodness, of truth, and of freedom, which the soul viewed in its pure state before it descended into flesh for a brief sojourn on the earth.
The Reality of the Ideas, the shadowy character of the world of our daily experiences, the difficulty of the attempt to view Reality instead of the particular things about us, the dazed condition of the mind of the student during the early days of his philosophical study, and the impatience of most people with the philosopher who does try to tell them that the things they are interested in are only shadowy copies of flaming ideal values are all illustrated in the myth of the cave with which Plato opens the seventh book of The Republic:
“Now then, I proceeded to say, go on to compare our natural condition, so far as education and ignorance are concerned, to a state that is like the following: Imagine a number of men (won’t you in this audience imagine you are these men?) in an underground cavernous chamber, with an entrance open to the light, extending along the entire length of the cavern, in which they have been confined, from their childhood, with their legs and necks so shackled that they are obliged to sit still and look straight forward, because their chains render it impossible for them to turn their heads around; and imagine a bright fire burning some ways off, above and behind them, and an elevated roadway passing between the fire and the prisoners, with a low wall built along it, like the screens which conjurors put up in front of their audience, and above which they exhibit their wonders.
“I have it,” Glaucon replied.
“Also figure to yourself a number of persons walking behind this wall, and carrying with them statues of men and images of other animals, wrought in wood and stone and all kinds of materials, together with various other articles, which overtop the wall; and, as you might expect, let some of the passers-by be talking, while others are silent.
“You are describing a strange scene, and strange prisoners. “They resemble us,” Socrates replied. “For let me ask you, in the first place, whether persons so confined could have seen anything of themselves or of each other, beyond the shadows thrown by the fire upon the part of the cavern facing them?”
“Certainly not,” replied Glaucon, “if you suppose them to have been compelled all their lifetimes to keep their heads unmoved,” replied Glaucon, once again.
“And is not their knowledge of the things carried past them equally limited?” “Unquestionable it is,” countered Glaucon “And if they were able to converse with one another, do you not think that they would be in the habit of giving names to the objects which they saw before them?” “Doubtless they would,” agreed Glaucon.
“Again: if their prison-house returned an echo from the part facing them, whenever one of the passers-by opened his lips, to what, let me ask you, could they refer the voice, it not to the shadow which was passing?”
“Unquestionably they would refer it to that,” Glaucon replied. “Then surely such a person would hold the shadows of those manufactured articles to be the only realities.
“Without a doubt they would. “Now consider what would happen if the course of nature brought them a release from their fetters, and a remedy for their foolishness, in the following manner: Let us suppose that one of them has been released, and compelled suddenly to stand up, and turn his neck around and walk with open eyes toward the light; and let us suppose that he goes through all these actions with pain, and that the dazzling splendor renders him incapable of discerning those objects of which he used formerly to see the shadows. What answer should you expect him to make, if someone were to tell him that in those days he was watching foolish phantoms, but that now he is somewhat nearer to Reality, and is turned towards things more real, and sees more correctly; above all, if he were to point out to him the several objects that are passing by, and question him, and compel him to answer what they are? Should you not expect him to be puzzled, and to regard his old visions as truer than the objects now forced upon his notice?
“Yes, much truer,” Glaucon replied. “And if he were further compelled to gaze at the light itself, would not his eyes, think you, be distressed, and would he not shrink and turn away to the things which he could see distinctly, and consider them to be really clearer than the things pointed out to him? “Just so,” Glaucon responded “And if some one were to drag him violently up the rough and steep ascent to the cavern, and refuse to let him go until he had drawn him out into the light of the sun, would he not, think you, be vexed and indignant at such treatment, and on reaching the light, would he not find his eyes so dazzled by the glare as to be incapable of making out so much as one of the objects that are now called true?”
“Yes, he would find it so at first,” Glaucon replied after some thought.
“Hence, I suppose, habit will be necessary to enable him to perceive objects in that upper world. At first, he will be most successful in distinguishing shadows; then he will discern the reflections of men and other things in water, and afterwards the realities; and after this he will raise his eyes to encounter the light of the moon and stars, finding it less difficult to study the heavenly bodies and the heaven itself by night, than the sun and the sun’s light by day. “Doubtless,” joined in Glaucon. “Last of all, I imagine, he will be able to observe and contemplate the nature of the seasons and the years, and the guardian of all things in the visible world, and in a manner the cause of all those things which he and his companions used to see.
“Obviously, this will be his next step,” predicted Glaucon.
“What then? When he recalls minding his first habitation, and the wisdom of the place, and his old fellow-prisoners, do you not think he will congratulate himself on the Change, and pity them?
“Assuredly he will,” agreed Glaucon.
“And if it was their practice in those days to receive honor and commendations one from another, and to give prizes to him who had the keenest eye for a passing object, and who remembered best all that used to precede and follow and accompany it, and from these data divined most ably what was going to come next. Do you fancy that he will covet these prizes, and envy those who receive honor, and exercise authority among them? Do you not rather imagine that he will feel what Homer describes, and wish extremely: ‘To drudge on the lands of a master, under a portion-less weight, and be ready to go through anything, rather than entertain those opinions, and live in that fashion? “For my own part, he replied, I am quite of that opinion; I believe he would consent to go through anything rather than live in that way.
“And now consider what would happen if such a man were to descend again and seat himself on his old seat? Coming so suddenly out of the sun, would he not find his eyes blinded with the gloom of the place?”
“Certainly he would,” Glaucon agreed.
“And if he were forced to deliver his opinion again, touching the shadows aforesaid, and to enter the lists against those who had always been prisoners, while his sight continued dim, and his eyes unsteady – and if this process of initiation lasted a considerable time – would he not be made a laughing stock, and would it not be said of him, that he had gone up only to come back again with his eyesight destroyed, and that it was not worthwhile even to attempt the ascent? And if any one endeavored to set them free and carry them to the light, would they not go so far as to put him to death, if they could only manage to get him into their power?”
“Yes, that they would,” replied Glaucon hesitantly.
“Whereas, our present argument shows us that there is a faculty residing in the soul of each person, and an instrument enabling each of us to learn; and that, just as we might suppose it to be impossible to turn the eye round from darkness to light without turning the whole body, so must this faculty, or this instrument be wheeled round, in company with the entire soul, from the perishing world, until it be enabled to endure the contemplation of the real world and the brightest part thereof, which, according us, is the Form of Good.” All other Forms, then, are subordinate to the Form of the Good. In the Drito we read: “Not life, but a good life, is to be chiefly valued.”
We may think of Plato as the man who developed the Eleatic method of argumentation and Socrates’ conversational method into the systematic dialectics which became, with Aristotle, formal logic.
We may think of Plato as the man who turned his Socratic heritage of a general term as an epistemological unit in the field of ethics into the fully developed concept with both logical and metaphysical validity.
We may think of Plato as a man whose idealistic theory of beauty still influences the theories of aesthetics.
We may think of Plato as the man who, in a search for a definition of justice, set up in thought an ideal Republic exemplifying perfectly the Platonic virtues moderation, courage, and wisdom, harmonized and kept in balance by the fourth and crowning virtue, justice – the Republic in which the lover of wisdom should be ruler, in which the guardians should be men who are philosophical, high-spirited, swift-footed, and strong, in which the rulers should be men with a quick apprehension, a good memory, a manly and a lofty spirit.
Or we may remember Plato as the man who was
able, years after writing The Republic, to write the less idealistic,
more practical work on political philosophy, the Laws. In the
intervening years Plato had less unhappy experiences in his attempts to
establish his ideal Republic in Syracuse when Dionysius the Younger ruled
Sicily. In The Laws we find an attempt to fit Legislation to the
practical problems facing the actual Greek city-states of the time. By the
way, one item in the Laws always amuses me: In the ideal Republic,
thought out when Plato was in vigorous manhood, there were to be no doctors
for chronic sufferers. If people didn’t have enough sense to regulate their
diet and exercise and rest and activities so as to preserve health, they
couldn’t expect society to pamper them with doctors and nurses. Just let
them die off; they weren’t of much use to themselves or to the State, either
one. But by the time Plato wrote the Laws, I fancy he had felt a
little rheumatic twinge in his own frame and a few cricks in his back, for
in the Laws provision is made for a tempering of the water in the
bath houses for the elderly and infirm. Grandpa no longer enjoys shivers
down his spine from a cold shower. The whole layout in the Laws is by
and for graybeards; the layout in the Republic is for the young and
We may remember Plato as the man who thought they could solve the liquor problem by arranging it at every drinking party there should be one man who did not drink and who should tell the rest when to stop. Plato seemed to know that when a man says, ‘I know how many glasses I can drink’ the catch is that after he has had one drink he continues to think after each glass that that :ass was his first.
We may think of Plato as the man who set forth theories of education, saying that the beginning of an education is the most important part, that mothers should not tell tales that both defame the gods and foster timidity in children, that no study, pursued under compulsion, remains rooted in the memory, and that a good citizen should be free from all experience of evil in his youth and learn what injustice is only later in life.
We may think of Plato as the man who clearly distinguished the three ultimate values, the true, the good, and the beautiful.
Let Plato remain with us this evening as the man who answered the question: “What is real?” with Ideal Values; “What remains when all things around us seem to change and pass away? Ideal Values. “What abides?” Ideal Values. What is the underlying ground of the universe? Ideal Values, with the Form of the Good supreme. The torn-up Greek world in which Plato lived needed that answer.” The torn – up world in which we live needs that answer, too.
Plato was a citizen of Athens, but his true citizenship, quoting Professor Duvall again, “was in the unseen realm above.” For we must accept, as also his own, the prayer in the Phaedrus which he puts in the mouth of Socrates:” “O Beloved Pan and all ye other gods of this place, grant to me that I be made beautiful in my soul within, and that all external possessions be in harmony with my inner man. May I consider the wise man rich – and may I have rich wealth as only the self-restrained man can bear or endure.”
Socrates and his young friend Phaedrus had been sitting on the banks of the beautiful Irises. They had been talking about rhetoric. They had drifted into a discussion of love and Socrates: beginning with the aoristic love of one individual for another, who had shown that the love of individuals is love only as it partakes of or is a copy of the perfect Form of Love in the heaven of eternal values. True love is an aesthetic experience. The lover loves because in seeing the beauty of the beloved he remembers true beauty. The soul led lover advances in aesthetic appreciation for love of a beautiful body, to loving beauty; to placing a higher value on beauty of soul than on beauty of body; the two lovers finally rise to the realm where they gaze together on true beauty.
At the close of the discussion, Phaedrus looks up at Socrates and says, “Now let us go, since the heart has grown gentler.”
Socrates asks, “Is it not well to pray to the deities here before we go?” “Of course,” replied Phaedrus.
“0 beloved Pan and all ye other gods of this place, grant to me that I be made beautiful – my soul within: and that all external possessions be in harmony with the inner man. May I consider the wise man rich; and may I have such wealth as only the self-restrained man can bear or endure. Do we need anything more, Phaedrus? For me prayer is enough.”
“Readers of my words: Let us also share in this prayer; for friends have all things in common.”