J. P Barron Memorial Lecture "Socrates, Eros and Magic"

J. P Barron Memorial Lecture "Socrates, Eros and Magic"
6 June 2018, 5.00pm - 7.00pm
Woburn Suite, G22/26, Ground Floor, Senate House, Malet Street, London WC1E 7HU

Angie Hobbs, University of Sheffield

At Symposium 203d Diotima claims that the daimon Eros is a clever magician and wizard, who philosophizes throughout his life.  It is a startling assertion, as Plato is usually highly critical of magicians, and the puzzle deepens when we consider that in the Symposium Socrates is portrayed as a partial embodiment of Eros.  Most commentators have either ignored the claim or tried to explain it away, but I argue that a deeper engagement with Plato’s views on magic shows that we should take it seriously.  I define the magician as a being who or which effects a transformation which the audience cannot initially understand in any way.  The key question is whether this transformation is only ever a deceptive conjuring trick, and I go on to argue that Plato thinks that, in rare but important cases, a magician can reveal, rather than concealing or disfiguring, the true nature of reality.  The daimon Eros, as described by Diotima, is just such a being, and understanding how this is so will teach us much about the nature of both love and philosophy and their capacity to reveal the normally hidden connections that bind the entire cosmos into a whole.


Valerie James
020 7862 8716