Essay Plato V. Augustine

Words: 1101
Pages: 5

After reading both Plato’s Symposium and Saint Augustine’s Confessions, one can see how the latter holds certain ideas and concepts that are parallel to those found in the former. Despite the differences in time, men are hindered from their pursuit of goodness, truth, etcetera, by similar, if not entirely identical, desires. That being said, of all of the speeches found in the Symposium, Augustine would connect most deeply to that of Alcibiades. Alcibiades is depicted as a prominent Athenian statesman, a successful orator, and a well accomplished military general. On top of such admirable prestige, he is also quite physically handsome. With this knowledge in mind, he seeks to seduce Socrates into a lover-beloved relationship in which he …show more content…
iii (3)]; “I thought I would become very miserable if I were deprived of the embraces of a woman”[VI. xi (20)] ; “… it was out of my power to live a celibate life”[VI. xii (22)]. With such deeply rooted “protrepsos”, base desires, it seems almost impossible for Saint Augustine or Alcibiades for that matter, to achieve the salvation, knowledge, and peace that they craved. Saint Augustine introduces the concept that people possess a “freedom of will” which explains why we do wrong and suffer judgment. “The consequence of a distorted will is passion. By servitude to passion, habit is formed, and habit to which there is no resistance becomes necessity. By these links, as it were, connected one to another, a harsh bondage held me under restraint.” [VIII. v (10)]. Accordingly, Saint Augustine argues that his “new will”, to place his life into God’s hands, was not strong enough to “conquer [his] older will” which lay in gaining pleasure in material possessions and carnal excitements [VIII. v (10)]. Still, all is not lost. Saint Augustine would most definitely argue with Socrates’ beliefs in regards to the method by which knowledge, truth, and goodness are acquired. Influenced by Diotima’s concept of the ‘ladder of love” [Bloom 55], Socrates suggests that the progressive enlightenment from a love of superficial objects (the beauty of something) to the understanding of beauty in and of itself can be acquired by self mastery and a genuine desire for truth.