PHL 3500 The Dangers of Passionate Love According Plato Essay


In the following assignment, I would like you to write me at least 5 full double-spaced pages on one of the following topics. You can write more, but try not to write fewer.

Because your paper will be relatively brief, it is important to be clear and concise. First, you should have a clear presentation of your thesis, that is to say, what you’re proving in the paper itself. It would help to also say something about why what you’re trying to prove matters. For example, why should anyone care about whether or not Eros is a guide to heavenly knowledge or a reunion with your other half, let alone care about how Tristan sees things? Saying something about why it does matter makes your paper more interesting.

Following that, you should present your explanations (with evidence from the texts themselves) of the ideas in question, which should help build up your final part, a well-substantiated argument for what you’re aiming to prove.

If you have any questions, make sure you ask me soon – don’t wait until the last minute. We’ll talk in class about writing this paper a few times, but you should talk to me about any more particular questions you might have.

1. In Plato’s Symposium, as well as in his Phaedrus, Eros is presented as being a force that, properly used, guides us along to knowledge of higher things, and in fact to something either divine or close to the divine. Aristophanes, on the other hand, presents Eros as helping us find the “other half” that will bring us back to something like our original form. Explain both sets of ideas, using pertinent quotations from the texts. Then answer which characterization accords better with the experience of erotic love in the story of either Abélard and Héloïse, or the story of Tristan and Yseut. Explain why.

2. In Plato, Eros is presented as a divine force of one kind or another which brings humans valuable benefits. Explain this idea, and explain why you think physical sexuality is de-emphasized to the degree that it is in Plato’s philosophy. Be sure to quote from Plato’s dialogues when doing so. Then argue for how this idea is accepted (or not accepted) by the two pairs of lovers we’ve read about (A/H and T/Y), as well as by the practitioners of courtly love. Again, be sure to show evidence for what you’re writing about by quoting directly from the texts.

3. How dangerous is passionate love? Explain what Plato has to say about the dangers of uncontrolled (or uncontrollable) Eros, as well as what De Rougemont and the stories of A/H and T/Y have to say about this matter. (As in the other cases, be sure to quote from the texts.) Are they correct in their judgments about the hazards of Eros? Or should we be less worried about this? Make a convincing argument for why or why not.


I. Introduction: thesis; some explanation of why what you’re arguing for matters; some explanation of how you’ll make a case for what you’re trying to prove.

II. Explanation of texts: as clearly as possible, explain the ideas you’re arguing about. Be sure to quote from what we’ve been reading to show evidence for what you’re saying. For example, if you want to note that Plato has a character say some things about the benefits of Eros in the area of virtue, quote that section of the text where that appears. Any (rational) citation method is fine, e.g. APA, MLA, etc.

III. Argument for your thesis: make a good case for what you’re trying to prove. Don’t just say, “I think Plato is wrong about….”, but try to convince your reader why you’re right. That takes some doing, so don’t shortchange this section of your paper.

IV. Conclusion: it makes good sense to finish by restating what you’ve been trying to prove, as well as reviewing how you made a case for it. It’s also a good idea to finish by pointing out how what you’ve just proven matters – maybe it helps solve some problems in the world, or maybe it raises new and interesting questions. Remind your reader why what you had to say makes a difference.


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