Phaedrus (dialogue)

The Phaedrus is a dialogue of Plato. The novel describes a conversation between Socrates and Phaedrus. The dialogue was built around 370 BC or 360 BC and, together with the dialogue Parmenides, Philebus and the third symposium on tetralogy of Plato's works. Important for an understanding of the work is the knowledge of the interconnectedness of the oral tradition of philosophical discussions of the historical figure of Socrates, who himself had refused to write down his philosophy, the philosophical works of his pupil Plato. The exact chronology of the work is controversial.


The discussion of the Phaedrus takes place in a very lovely setting. Socrates and Phaedrus walk out of the city and settle on the banks of a stream, to chat. In the dialog prevents the self-reflexive discussion of the philosopher Socrates form that is used today as a didactic Socratic method, the escalation, because Phaedrus is a young and very irritable interlocutor, which is why Socrates and externally creates a harmonious environment possible.

In the first part of the dialogue Phaedrus reads a speech of Lysias ago, in which someone - " a non- amorous Hofmacher " - to advise, not with the lovers, but with the non- lovers to be friends, as this is more reliable. Socrates now holds two speeches: after the first one should keep up with the non- lovers, after the second with the lovers friendship. When one falls in love with someone, you worship him as a god, which one is willing to sacrifice. The Divine called the Beautiful, wise and good.

In the second speech, which comes from Stesichorus, the proof of the immortality of the soul is carried forward. He is based in the fact that it is always in motion immortal. Always move is what moves itself, since it has the principle of motion in itself. But the soul moves the creature and itself you can never leave as a moving principle itself and is therefore immortal. At these remarks Socrates ties a myth to illuminate the structure and life destiny of the soul. Initially lived the souls of the gods and attended her heavenly carriage ride. The gods have nothing but noble horses, but the soul, whose carriage is guided by reason, has a noble, heavenly Ross, the mind, and a wild, shaggy, Bucky earthly horse to drive. In the car ride in the company of the gods of the steep trail to the edge of the world, on the hump of the sky: here can the driver of the soul vehicle that reason, to behold the native to the super-celestial region Ideas: colorless substance, formless, in truth existent beings. This subheading can not progress up every soul, but it still can, falls off easily due to the stubborn and clumsy behavior of the earthly horse. Then the feathers falling from the wings of the soul, and this falls to earth. Here she is able to grasp the general truth, if it was their previously been able to see the ideas.

If the soul of man on earth sees something beautiful, she remembers the ideas, their feathers begin to grow again and they erbrennt in love: this "madness" reminds the soul to its true home. However, the lovers do not know, " he beholdeth as in a mirror in the lover himself."

In the second part of the dialogue Socrates and Phaedrus talk about the nature of the speech at all: Socrates proves that the true orator a perfect psychologist and philosopher was, because he needs to know the soul of the listener and the objects of speech completely. Because if someone wanted to wake up his speech just a mere illusion, he can do that only by means of the representation of similarities. The similarity but sees the true connoisseurs of the essence the best. The writing is not worth much, because it's dead and gives to every question the same answer. That is why the true connoisseurs of truth writes more just for fun and to awaken the memory, because his writing is indeed almost as if he had written them into the water; the other hand, he maintains much rather the philosophical parent speech that comes to life in the soul of the student: This speech is the dialectical tuition including the manifold and leads back to an idea.


For the European intellectual history were particularly Eros and psychology of dialogue is of great importance. In more recent research is especially Plato's critique of literacy as a deficient form of philosophizing great interest.

For deconstruction Derrida in his work " Plato's Pharmacy" comes to the Phaedrus, in particular the Theut myth, a central role. Based on this Platonic myth, which tells of the origin of writing, Derrida attempts by the term " prodrug " to show the lost value of writing and criticized the logocentrism.

Editions and translations

  • Ludwig Georgii (translator ): Phaedrus. In: Erich Loewenthal (ed.): Plato: Complete Works in three volumes, Vol 2, unchanged reprint of the eighth, looked through edition, University Press, Darmstadt 2004, ISBN 3-534-17918-8, pp. 409-481 ( translation only )
  • Constantin Ritter ( Translator ): Plato's dialogue Phaedrus. In: Otto Apelt (ed.): Plato: All dialogs, Vol 2, Meiner, Hamburg 2004, ISBN 3-7873-1156-4 ( translation with introduction and explanatory notes; reprint of the second, looked through edition, Leipzig 1922)
  • Plato: Phaedrus, translated by Friedrich Schleiermacher and introduced by HM Endres, Goldmann TB 963, Munich without year
  • Plato: Phaedrus or Of Beautiful, translated by Kurt Hildebrandt. Reclam, Stuttgart (online, PDF, 394 kB)