Love Drunk Puppets : on the politics of philosophic erotic reciprocity in Plato’s laws

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Title: Love Drunk Puppets : on the politics of philosophic erotic reciprocity in Plato’s laws
Author: Hays, Paul
Type: Thesis
Issue Date: 2012
Abstract: This 2012 master’s thesis argues, contra the previous work of Karl Popper and Gregory Vlastos, that the role of philosophical eros, and love more broadly, in Plato’s political philosophy is worthwhile and beneficial for individual citizens and the social cohesion of the polis. An examination of the functioning of Platonic philosophical eros as suggested in Phaedrus and Symposium reveals that such love is implicated in the creation and exchange of abstract or spiritual goods, specifically virtue in its four types or parts, and that on the macroeconomic level of the polis in Laws the processes of philosophic erotic interaction constitute a spiritual economy. The mutuality or reciprocity of philosophical eros, together with the specific modalities in which a citizen actively practices that eros, create a system similar to what anthropologists call a reciprocity economy, in which productive human interaction is essentially connected to the relationships of the people involved. In Magnesia, the polis in Laws, symposia, choruses, and the laws with their preludes constitute a general economy; the Nocturnal Council and the Ambassadors are put in place to improve and augment the wealth and functioning of the spiritual economy as well as for the distribution of wealth throughout the polis; and the Moderation Tank and other measures are put in place for the benefit of citizens poor in virtue. The argument finds that this political system adopts both the intrinsic and instrumental positive valuation of the other, with which Popper and Vlatos are concerned, insofar as each citizen’s capacity for virtue and philosophic eros is, according to Platonic texts, an innate characteristic of each human being’s divine soul, and each individual positively values, and benefits from, his or her fellow citizens.
Subject: Love in literature
Subject: Plato. Laws
Subject: Plato
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Hays, Paul. "Love Drunk Puppets : on the politics of philosophic erotic reciprocity in Plato’s laws". 2012. Available electronically from

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