Monday, June 07, 2004

Were Socrates & Plato gay? Gimme a break . . .

A widely entertained opinion today is that the Greek philosophers were pedarasts and gay. Students point to the fact that Socrates (in Plato's dialogs) mentions homoerotic infatuation between various individuals. I believe this is utter nonsense. I could be wrong. I know that the bath houses in ancient Greece were places of notorious homosexual repute. In the Hellenistic era, Jewish warnings against visiting such establishments clearly indicates this. I don't imagine that things were all too different in Greece from what we find (or avoid finding) today in various urban centers. But this hardly means Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle were homoerotically active pederasts.

As for "data," there are the clear quotations from Plato's Republic and his Laws indicating his disdain for homoerotic sex and his warnings against it. But there is also his dialogue, Lysis, which is about friendship (philos), wherein he takes a homosexual man coming out of a bathhouse and has him encounter Socrates and fall into discussion about love (philos). The gay fellow is infatuated with another young man, and Socrates explores the topic of friendship and love (philos) and its relation to eros, etc. And basically throughout the dialog the gay fellow is clueless about what are demanded by real friendship and love. Socrates pokes fun at him, backhandedly. I can't imagine
Socrates in this dialog thinking that homosexual love is a good and noble thing.

Socrates (in Plato's dialogues) can be found acknowledging the existence of homosexual infatuation between various individuals. That is one thing. But it seems to me quite another to suggest that Socrates or Plato or Aristotle were themselves involved in homoerotic sexual activity. My view is that public views of such activity in that day were somewhat like they are today--tolerated, but hardly considered noble or decent. If Socrates had been present during our national discussions about "same-sex marriage" (sic), I can only imagine what fun he would have stripping away the layers of incorrigible nonsense in a classic reductio ad absurdum.


GaySocrates said...

It's interesting that out of some 230 plus tag headings on your blog 'Homosexualism' [sic] is the topic in the top 5 of the number of entries- 96 tags compared with 1 for 'holy orders'
Your view 'that public views of "such activity" (sic.) in that day were somewhat like they are today--tolerated, but hardly considered noble or decent' is out of kilter with the mainstream.
You've been hanging around with closeted clergy with internalized homophobic issues for way too long.
Wake up and smell the coffee- It's lovely!

Pertinacious Papist said...

Hello my self-styled "GaySocrates,"

First, it's "Homosexualism" because it's as much an ideological commitment as it is a bio-psychological disposition. Hence, like "Femin-ism," it's an "ism." It's not that "gays" simply can't HELP doing what they do; it's that they LIKE doing what they do, and therefore choose to commit themselves to a "gay" lifestyle. It's a commitment.

Second, "Homosexualism" is among the top 5 topics on the blog because, like all the other "pelvic issues" that dominate the socio-political scene today, it's a hot issue. Unlike with gun control, recycling, drug addiction or veganism, our contemporary society doesn't care what you do with your penis as long as you don't commit rape. Thus anything remotely related to sexual preferences is thought off-limits to moral censure, whether it's masturbation, contraception, abortion, divorce & remarriage, same-sex sodomy & "marriage," man-boy "love," and the like. A vast number of people are sufficiently thick to accept even the red herring that Homosexualism should be considered something on par with racial civil rights, even though a man has no choice about the color of his skin but does have a choice about what he does with his penis.

Third, while you may wish to continue ignoring the historical, psychological, and scientific facts about Homosexualism, the facts remain what they are, and wishing them otherwise doesn't change them.

Finally, your invitation to "wake up and smell the coffee -- it's lovely" rings hollow, since one can hear the same invitations from crack and heroine dealers pushing their trade. Whatever offers pleasure cannot be judged simply on its own merits, because what is pleasurable may be harmful (like crack and heroin) and what is unpleasant may be valuable and necessary (like a root canal).

Sterling Davis said...

I was up looking online because I saw an episode of American Dad that suggested Socrotes was gay and I came across this site. I'm a straight man but I don't have anything against gay people, it is what it is, however I just wanted to express how much I enjoyed reading the comments from Pertinacious Papist. I think in these times we are past people not accepting the gay people and have moved into playing favoritism, however that's just my opinion and that was my two cents. I couldn't dare debate with you guys and I have no need to, I just wanted to express how I enjoyed reading and I wish you would continue!!