On the Concept of Beauty

It is my intention to introduce the consideration of the significant aesthetic concept, specifically the concept of splendor, by using discussing one of the first most important texts to contain something like a concept of splendor. The text in query is a section from Plato’s Phaedrus, about chapters 30 to 32 consistent with the well-known Stephanus pagination.1

Now, you can say to start with that it’s far alternatively peculiar to start an examination of the concept of splendor by using drawing on a passage of an incredibly mythological, dogmatic and truly pre-essential person together with this one with the aid of Plato. I actually have chosen this passage as it demonstrates that Plato become a truth seeker in any case, now not a mythologist; that is, all the decisive motifs which later appear in the philosophical theory of splendor are amassed in this exegesis, rather akin to the manner that, in the introductions to positive first-rate symphonies, an essential subject matters are present as though beneath glass and are then advanced within the path of the symphony itself. So I can here gift to you in status nascendi because it had been in an almost prehistoric form, the motifs that dominate the discussion of the concept of splendor.

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Phaedrus is one of the thinker’s most complicated and enigmatic works, so complicated that it is almost not possible to factor to a well-known theme of this communication. It starts offevolved as a discussion of a sophistic speech about love wherein a starkly sophistic declare is made, specifically that the most effective proper lover is the only who does no longer love himself.2 This thesis, that’s provided to Socrates through a children, a young student of the Sophists—Phaedrus—is then corrected through Socrates, one might say, within the experience that he immanently criticizes it and outdoes it in a speech this is each extra internally rigorous and greater virtuosic.Three This, however, is abruptly accompanied with the aid of a magnificent rupture. The whole method as much as that point is abandoned, and were instead offered a doctrine of love that corresponds to Socratic theory itself, and which is normally based at the motif of re-remembering, or anamnesis.4 And let me say it already: what the Platonic theory of beauty basically states is that the electricity of beauty comes from the truth that we understand the Form—or whatever it is—in the items or humans we’ve got reason to call lovely.5 It is this outstanding motif of ache and longing, which seizes human beings in the face of beauty, that was formulated for the first time and in the most great style on this communicate. This interpretation is then followed by way of a 3rd part, which additionally has a very ordinary Platonic shape that I would love to location within the class or go back. This means that now the soul, saturated with the reports accumulated via philosophy after turning closer to its maximum items, specifically the Forms, returns to the earth and now brings the chic—to apply one of Kierkegaard’s terms6—into the pedestrian.7 This Platonic motif, incidentally, went directly to play a first-rate component in German classicism too; one need assume simplest of Faust’s “I weep, I am for the earth again” to remember the fact that.8

I could strongly inspire all of you, if you occupy yourselves in any respect with aesthetics, to examine the Phaedrus in its entirety; for one ought to actually apprehend it as one of the best primary texts within the entire of Western metaphysics … One of its central “issues” is the connection among motive and madness9 … [At the turning point of the dialogue] Socrates—referring, possibly in slight jest, to nymphs—indicates himself seized by means of enthusiasm and leaves the rational realm.10 There is an entirely systematic cause for this in Platonic philosophy. Platonic philosophy as a whole has a weird twofold man or woman, for it is rational or, to apply its own terminology, dialectical, which means that it consists within the definition and improvement of ideas—both the abstraction and the type of concepts—yet isn’t always restricted to this but alternatively—so as for the idea certainly to come to be what it without a doubt is, specifically the objectively valid concept—it’s miles joined by that very thing of enthousiasmos, or divine insanity, which Plato deems the element in which the best truth discloses itself, albeit handiest as a unexpected flash:eleven until, having skilled it, we perform that return that is so fundamental to Platonic philosophy. And it’s far from this defense of insanity towards rationality—one could nearly say: against stupidity—it is from this justification of delirium, and absolutely an erotic delirium, that Plato’s idea of beauty follows. He offers severe emotion within the face of splendor as one of these kinds of insanity that is wiser than the standard information of purpose. I had to tell you this plenty so that you might understand what I will now read you, and then interpret in a few element. So, we read in chapter 30:

“Now we reach the factor to which the entire discussion of the fourth form of madness become tending. This fourth sort of madness is the kind which happens whilst someone sees splendor right here on this planet and is reminded of actual beauty. His wings start to develop …”

—“wings start to grow” is a connection with the imperative parable that precedes this,12 however which I shall not speak now—

“and he desires to take wing on his new plumage, however he can’t; like a fowl he appears upwards, and because he ignores what’s down here, he’s accused of behaving like a madman. So the point is that this seems to be the most very well correct of all varieties of ownership, no longer only for the man who is possessed, however also for anybody who is touched by it, and the phrase “lover” refers to a lover of splendor who has been possessed through this type of madness. For, as I even have already said, the soul of every person is sure to have visible things as they honestly are, otherwise it would now not have entered this form of residing creature. But now not every soul is with ease brought on with the aid of matters right here on this planet to keep in mind those matters which are real. This isn’t always smooth for a soul which caught only a quick glimpse of factors there, nor for those which after falling to earth have suffered the misfortune of being perverted and made immoral by means of the corporation they keep and have forgotten the sacred matters they noticed then.”

That nearly appears like Hölderlin.Thirteen

“When the remaining few, whose recollections are right sufficient, see a likeness here which reminds them of factors there, they may be amazed and beside themselves, but they do not apprehend what’s occurring to them because of a positive unclarity of their perceptions. But despite the fact that the likenesses right here on the planet (of factors that are valuable to souls, inclusive of justice and self-control) …”