CriticaLink | Plato: Phaedrus | Terms


The Greek god Eros, sometimes depicted as the son of love-goddess Aphrodite, is the personification of love, and his name is the source of our word "erotic". Plato's Phaedrus proposes a distinction between two kinds of love: the erotic passion that leads to the pursuit of physical pleasure, and the philosophical pursuit of truth through recollection--anamnesis--of the perfect Forms.

Like Sigmund Freud, Plato makes the impulse of eros into a central component of his psychology. In Socrates's illustration of the psyche the charioteer, both the good and the bad horse are compelled by desire--the good for the Forms, the bad for the pleasures of the body. The proper control of desire becomes a central task in the life of the human being who wishes to become a "lover of wisdom," a philosopher.