PHI305: Intensive Study of a Text in Classical Philosophy – Plato’s Symposium

Key details

Unit typeElective unit
Credit points6
Indicative contact hoursDelivered in intensive mode over 2 weeks
Offered inWinter Break 2020
Tuition feeVisit www.campion.edu.au/tuition


This unit is a close reading of Plato’s Symposium, one of the most celebrated of all Socratic dialogues. Its chief theme is love, but it is also concerned with beauty, immortality and the pursuit of wisdom. We are presented with a series of speeches in praise of Eros, the god of sexual love, delivered at an unusually sober drinking party. One of these speeches, given by Socrates himself, relates the only extended conversation the great philosopher is known to have had with a woman, the wise prophetess Diotima. Almost immediately after Socrates has finished speaking, the half-drunken Alcibiades suddenly joins the symposium and rounds off the speeches with an astonishing and ambiguous encomium of Socrates. Students will read the entire dialogue, in a scrupulously literal translation, paying careful attention both to its philosophical content and to its literary character.

Learning outcomes

On completion of this unit of study, students will be able to:

a) Demonstrate an understanding of the major themes and questions in the text.
b) Evaluate critically the arguments presented in the text;
c) Appreciate the significance of the author’s choice of the literary form of the text;
d) Write well-argued and well-structured essays and appropriately use references and bibliographies according to academic conventions.

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