- 美學 (ISSN:05200962)
- vol.47, no.1, pp.13-24, 1996-06-30
Beauty cannot be comprehended by definition. The proper way to understand beauty per se is self-knowledge. When one is asked 'what beauty is', one is asked at the same time 'what oneself is'. The most eminent beauty for Plato is that of virtue. The beauty of virtue is one of the strongest motivations of his philosophy. The task of 'Phaedrus' is to ask the possibility of understanding the rationality (logos) of this beauty by his method of philosophizing : dialektike. Plato names the power to philosophize 'love' (eros). But eros in the vulgar sense of the word is a mere sexual desire. Phaedrus, Socrates' interlocutor in this dialogue, is charmed uncritically (i.e. losing himself) by a beautiful discourse on eros composed by an orator named Lysias. Therefore, Socrates uncovers the narrowness and partiality of eros understood in this discourse and narrates the proper sense and work of it. Eros is the love of beauty or divine wisdom and this love is donated by beauty. Beauty is found at the beginning of and is situated in the end of philosophizing. Beauty is the coincident value of the beginning and the end. In this way, through examining the work and sense of eros, one can understand the rationality of beauty by dialektike. This enables one to be incarnated in eros. This means nothing else than the generation of philosophy which is the end of this dialogue.