Volume 2, Issue 4, 2018
Ancient Greek Philosophy: Neo-Platonic Philosophy
Dimitrios A. Vasilakis
Aspects of the Erotic Way of Life in Proclus
The Neoplatonists have been criticized for giving forced interpretations of Plato. Can this verdict justify modern commentators’ not paying attention to the Neoplatonic views on central Platonic problems, such as the accusation of ‘moral egoism’? The issue of Platonic eros, a proposal for a modus vivendi, serves as a significant test-case in order to answer this challenge. My approach is based on Proclus’ Commentary on the First Alcibiades. The Platonic successor approaches Socrates’ relation to Alcibiades as mirroring the structure of the divine realm. From this point of view, which platonically merges ethics with metaphysics, Proclus repeatedly states that it is an essential feature of the divine lover, who patterns himself upon the god Eros, to elevate along with himself his beloved towards the intelligible Beauty. This seems to go against the Symposium, which might suggest that the lover needs his beloved, because the latter constitutes the means for the former to recollect the source of real beauty. In contrast, for Proclus the ideal loving relationship is parallel to the demiurge’s providential relation to the Receptacle, and that of the philosopher-king to his city. Hence, Proclus presents us the quintessence of the erotic way of life and responds to Plato’s critics.