2013 Student Research Conference:
26th Annual Student Research Conference

"He Conceives and Gives Birth": Plato and Pregnancy
Alison Stagner
Dr. Patricia Burton, Faculty Mentor

Diotima's speech in Symposium is especially notable for utilizing the extended metaphors of pregnancy and birth to describe the bringing forth of virtuous ideas. A controversial scholarly debate has examined how the rhetoric of specifically female images works toward Plato's philosophical aims. Going against the most common vein of feminist interpretation, this thesis advances that such metaphors reveal broader philosophical themes. Plato emphasizes that interlocutors must come together to seek wisdom; yet, gender constructions of antiquity prevent different kinds of engaged inquiry from taking place. If a philosopher's true work is to descend back down into the allegorical cave to better the polis, women's roles, even as mothers, opens up a space for dialectic participation despite a lack of female access to the public. Because offspring require philosophical nurturing to seek virtue, minimally mediated encounters between mother and child are vital to the success of Plato's community.

Keywords: Plato, Philosophy, Pregnancy, Classics

Topic(s):Philosophy & Religion
Classics

Presentation Type: Oral Paper

Session: 304-4
Location: MG 1000
Time: 1:45

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