Context and Contradictions in Plato's Phaedrus and Plato's Symposium

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Context and Contradictions in Plato's Phaedrus and Plato's Symposium

It is well known that Plato, a devoted student of Socrates, chronicled many of Socrates' speeches and conversations. Every so often one can find instances where Socrates and other players in these conversations seem to contradict themselves, or at least muddle their arguments. One such occurrence of this is in Plato's Symposium and Plato's Phaedrus. Both texts speak of love in its physical sense, both texts describe love and its effects, and both discuss how it is best realized, yet they do this in very different fashions, and for different reasons.

Plato's Phaedrus is a conversation between Socrates and Phaedrus. In this conversation the young Phaedrus is
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Phaedrus, in Phaedrus, is an attractive young man who has caught the attention of Socrates and many others. One of his admirers is the famed speechwriter Lysias. Phaedrus is taken in by the thought of making love (the physical act of sex) with someone who does not pursue you (as Lysias said). He sees this as preferable because, "Lovers repent the kindnesses they have shown when their passion abates, but to men not in love there never comes a time for such regret?Those who are not in love, on the other hand, cannot use as a pretext for coolness the excuse that love has made them neglect their own interests, or put into the reckoning the hardships they have endured, or hold the loved one responsible?and since they are relieved from all these disadvantages nothing remains for them but to do cheerfully whatever they think will give their partners pleasure" (Plato Phaedrus 27). The young impressionable Phaedrus is quickly taken in by this method of thought. He continues to read Lysias? speech boastfully: "But those not in love, who were friends before the formed a liaison, are in no danger of finding their friendship diminished as a result of the satisfaction they have enjoyed; on the contrary, the recollection of it will be a pledge of further satisfaction to come" (Plato Phaedrus 29).

However, in the Symposium Phaedrus says that young man can derive the most benefits from being in love with an elder, and vice
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