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How can the Concept of Immortality be Understood in Plato’s Symposium?

Lai, Chun-Yu; (2020) How can the Concept of Immortality be Understood in Plato’s Symposium? Masters thesis (M.Phil.Stud), UCL (University College London). Green open access

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Abstract

My thesis explores the concept of immortality in Plato’s Symposium. Diotima claims that ‘Love must desire immortality’ (207A) and that all lovers are ‘in love with immortality’ (208E). I endeavour to interpret these claims and how different types of lovers achieve a human version of immortality in the Symposium. I begin my thesis with presenting several scholars’ interpretations of immortality in the Symposium and arguing that their interpretations are not entirely persuasive. Then I present Sheffield’s interpretation of Diotima’s claims and how the philosophical lover achieves immortality. I find her interpretation persuasive and base my interpretation on hers, particularly her proposed notion of psychic pregnancy and her interpretation of the immortality achieved by the philosophical lover as the perfection of soul. Inspired by Rowe’s and Lear’s interpretations, I argue that according to Diotima in the Symposium, the human desire for immortality is a desire to transcend limitations of mortality. And human agents take transcending mortality as a part of eudaimonia. That is, it is believed by agents that to attain eudaimonia, one has to transcend mortality in some way. Thus, the human desire for immortality is not separate from the eros for eudaimonia. In the later part of my thesis I present my interpretation of how different types of agent achieve immortality. I argue that the non-philosophical lovers transcend mortality via possessing certain goods which are able to last after their death. They take these goods to be parts of themselves, and thus the continual existence of these goods after their death is deemed as a transcendence over mortality. Perceiving mortality as non-divine, the philosophical lover transcends mortality via possessing divine things such as wisdom and virtues based on wisdom. That is, he perfects his soul through realising his potentialities for knowledge of Beauty and virtues based on this knowledge.

Type: Thesis (Masters)
Qualification: M.Phil.Stud
Title: How can the Concept of Immortality be Understood in Plato’s Symposium?
Event: UCL (University College London)
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Language: English
Additional information: Copyright © The Author 2020. Original content in this thesis is licensed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0) Licence (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/). Any third-party copyright material present remains the property of its respective owner(s) and is licensed under its existing terms. Access may initially be restricted at the author’s request.
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of Arts and Humanities
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of Arts and Humanities > Dept of Philosophy
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10117353
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