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Diotima’s ladder: from lust to morality

2 minutes

Why Socrates believed that sexual desire is the first step towards righteousness

Can sexual desire lead us to something that transcends the physical act? Socrates seemed to think so. In Plato’s Symposium, Socrates recalls the words of his apparent teacher of erotics, the priestess Diotima of Mantinea, who instructed him that lust was the first rung on a ladder leading upwards towards an appreciation of the form of beauty itself and, further, to morality and virtue.

Video by BBC Radio 4 and The Open University

Script: Nigel Warburton

Animator: Andrew Park

Support Aeon

Ideas can change the world

Aeon is a registered charity committed to the spread of knowledge and a cosmopolitan worldview.

But we can’t do it without you.

Aeon is a registered charity committed to the spread of knowledge and a cosmopolitan worldview. Our mission is to create a sanctuary online for serious thinking.

No ads, no paywall, no clickbait – just thought-provoking ideas from the world’s leading thinkers, free to all. But we can’t do it without you.

Become a Friend for $5 a month or Make a one-off donation

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