Socrates in Neoclassical Art: A Philosophical Analysis of a Painting
11/28/2018 1:00 PM
YER : Dragos Campus, Student Center, K101
İstanbul Şehir University Department of Philosophy

Geoff S. Bove - İstanbul Technical University

There is considerable confusion surrounding the subject matter depicted in Franz Caucig’s painting “Socrates with a Disciple and Diotima?,” (before 1810). At first glance, the painting depicts Plato’s Phaedrus: Socrates and Phaedrus are sitting by the banks of the Illisus River outside the city walls. However, there is a woman addressing them – something that does not happen in Plato’s dialogue – and one suspects that the intent of the painting is to be found by understanding who she is. This talk explores two options about her identity: (1) Diotima, whose ideas on love form Socrates’s speech in the Symposium, is a reasonable assumption. The theme of the Phaedrus discussion is love and ascent, themes that inform Plotinus’s Enneads I,6 and much Renaissance Neoplatonism. Bove explores difficulties with this option. (2) That the woman is Parmenides’s goddess is a tantalizing interpretation, since both the Proem of Parmenides’ and Socrates’ second speech in the Phaedrus employ an analogy of the soul as a horse drawn chariot; such a chariot can be seen in the right background of Caucig’s painting. The talk is an engagement with Neoclassical art, the figure of Socrates in Plato’s dialogues, and a fascinating variant in the manuscripts of Plato’s Crito 52b.

*The conference will be conducted in English.