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Volume 15/16, 2017/2018

Le Principe du Bien: Platon, Aristote et leur postérité

Pierre Destrée
Pages 183-201

La contemplation du Beau et la pratique du bien
Pour une lecture éthique du discours de Diotime dans le Banquet de Platon

This paper focuses on the conclusion of Diotima’s speech : “Do you not reflect that it is there alone, when he sees the Beautiful […] that he will give birth not to mere images of virtue but to true virtue, because it is not an image that he is grasping but the truth. And when he has given birth to and nurtured true virtue it is possible for him to be loved by the gods and to become, if any human can, immortal himself ” (212a). It is not clear what exactly Diotima takes “true virtue” to be. Many interpreters (esp. F. Sheffield) argue that that virtue amounts to the exercise of the intellect, the moral, or political virtues being only “secondary” (as Aristotle would famously say) in the eudaimonia. Opposing this in fact Aristotelian reading, I contend that “true virtue” amounts to the moral‑cum‑political virtues once enlightened by the contemplation of the Form of Beauty. My main arguments come from a close reading of some passages of Alcibiades’s speech which should be read as a diptych to Diotima’s.

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