In accordance to the Gorgias, as Socrates was conversing with Callicles—a possibly fictional character who attempts to refute Socrates’ claims against rhetoric—he makes the claim that the two have suffered due to a common element: loving. Socrates asserts that he himself is in love with Alcibiades, the son of Cleinias and with philosophy and that Callicles is in love with the Athenian people and the son of Pyrilampes. As Socrates develops his argument, he illustrates that love triumphs all other forces and that his love for philosophy and Alcibiades are fundamentally distinct. Ironically, in the Symposium, an exasperated Alcibiades implies that Socrates neglects him due to his love for philosophy—an attribute that made him fall in love with and actively pursue Socrates to begin with. Lastly, Socrates infers that love causes suffering, clarifying his seeming hesitance in relation to Alcibiades.
In the Gorgias, Socrates accuses Callicles of being untrue to himself in an attempt to please the Athenian people, or rather avoid contradicting them because he loves them. He states, “And so I perceive you on each occasion unable, terribly clever though you are, to contradict what your boyfriends say and how they say things are, but you turn yourself around up and down.” In this way, Socrates yet again refutes Gorgias’, Polus’, and Callicles’ cumulative argument that art of the rhetorician is the power to persuade. Instead, he infers, that it is the Athenian people who indirectly persuade Callicles. Moreover, he indicates that Callicles, though intelligent, is unable to contradict the Athenian people due to his love for them. This becomes even more evident when a rather intoxicated Alcibiades joins the Symposium. As he gives a elucid...
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...a nutshell, Socrates defines his loves with both Alcibiades and with philosophy as “suffering.” He has established that he loves both, but that philosophy is loyal and reliable and provides a space where Socrates does not need to face envy, jealousy, or abuse. His love for Alcibiades is rather complex and paradoxical. Despite their immense love for each other, Socrates is not what Alcibiades imagines his lover or beloved to behave as. He finds the Socratic philosophical method attractive, yet is unable to peacefully coexist with it, placing Socrates in a rabbit hole of sorts, where there is nothing he can do, but suffer more and see his beloved/lover suffer. In other words, Socrates refuses to let go of philosophy to maintain a loving relationship with Alcibiades, but is, to some level, willing to let Alcibiades go if he can continue philosophizing, as he desires.
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