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MaieusisEssays in Ancient Philosophy in Honour of Myles Burnyeat$
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Dominic Scott

Print publication date: 2007

Print ISBN-13: 9780199289974

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2008

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199289974.001.0001

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Beauty of Body, Nobility of Soul: The Pursuit of Love in Plato's Symposium *

Beauty of Body, Nobility of Soul: The Pursuit of Love in Plato's Symposium *

(p.97) 6 Beauty of Body, Nobility of Soul: The Pursuit of Love in Plato's Symposium *

Alexander Nehamas

Oxford University Press

This chapter focuses on the role of kalon in the thought of Plato and Aristotle. Plato's conception of kalon consists of many strands, all of them contestable and deeply controversial. One is an effort to transform the social fully into the psychological, and pre-eminence completely into virtue. Another is the view that beauty is a real feature of things to which, to the extent that it is genuine, love is the proper response — but beauty seems no less love's creature than its cause. In beauty, Plato saw not just a promise of happiness but a pledge of virtue as well. The pursuit of beauty brings both the philosopher and his companions closer to human perfection, a perfection determined purely in terms of the soul's inherent nature and not the accretions it has acquired as a result of its embodied state and its historical place. The ascent thus accomplishes something inherently good — an achievement and a distinction of which one can be rightly proud, whether or not anyone else knows of it or not.

Keywords:   love, beauty, happiness, virtue, perfection, kalon, Aristotle, philosopher

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