Comparing and Contrasting of Plato and Nietzsche Paper

Comparing and Contrasting of Plato and Nietzsche

Plato and Nietzsche are two of the worlds greatest and well known philosophers of their times. Plato’s Symposium is based of a series of speeches on love, purpose and the total sense of being. Each of the speeches, are made up of seven different men attending a party and each of the men expresses a speech about love. Nietzsche’s Thus Spoke Zarathustra, is more a philosophical novel instead of a dialogue like Plato’s Symposium. Nietzsche’s writing is more of a profound understanding of purpose and morality. Nietzsche talks about mankind being the step before reaching the “overman.” Nietzsche then talks about the “overman” being free from all discriminations and moralities in that the “overman” constructs his own values and purpose (SparkNotes Editors, Summary).

In both of Plato and Nietzsche’s writings, they both talk about love, but each of their views are still little different. Plato’s views on love are more mental and emotional, and not based off of a sexual and physical type of love. “I’d like to weld you together and join you into that is naturally whole, so that the two of you are made into one…” (Plato. Speech of Aristophanes, 28). When Plato says this, it shows that love is eternal, that it is something that you are completely bound to for your entire life. This quote shows a deeper meaning of love than just the physical part and as talked about in class; it is known as “platonic love” (Conroy, Notes on October 21). “So I shall now cut each of them in two…” (Plato. The Speech of Aristophanes, 26). This also shows that when Apollo and Zeus separated and made man and woman; they first started out as a whole. In Plato’s writing it relates with the very fact that we are not whole till we fine our true love and once finding that other half we are finally whole again. With Nietzsche, he looks at love with more of a physical way and that love made up as a whole; is both physical and non physical. “One still loves one’s neighbor and rubs against him, for one needs warmth,” (Nietzsche. Zarathustra’s Prologue, 17). When Nietzsche writes this, it shows that even with being physical you can still love somebody. Unlike like Plato who views love as from the neck and up; Nietzsche views show that you can still love someone even though your physical and that the closeness brings two people closer as one.

In each text Plato and Nietzsche talk about the body and still their views are different. Nietzsche views that the body is full of wisdom and that you learn from the internal organs as well as the external features. “Body I am entirely and nothing else,” (Nietzsche. On the Despisers of the Body, 34). Nietzsche speaks about you learning from all parts of the body including the mind which he feels has a strong relationship between the two. However, Plato believes the body is just a physical element of each person and that no wisdom and passion can be gained from it. “After this he must think that the beauty of people’s souls is more valuable than the beauty of their bodies,” (Plato. The Speech of Diotima, 58).
In both of the writings wine and drinking were often discussed. Nietzsche talks about deserving wine that not all man are born ‘water drinkers’ and that wine is all over good for them. “--- that is, abundantly and tirelessly --- I want wine. Not everybody is born water drinker like Zarathustra. Nor is water fit for the weary and wilted: we deserve wine. That alone gives sudden convalescence and immediate health,” (Nietzsche. The Last Supper, 284). Just like Nietzsche, Plato also talks about wine and drinking. “Well, gentleman, how can we arrange to drink less tonight? To be honest I still have a terrible hangover from yesterday, and I could really use a break,” (Plato, Introductory Dialogue, 6). It seems that in this day in age drinking was a very common activity and in both writings drinking is expressed as important.

Even with their opinions on the body being different, Plato and Nietzsche both write about the soul in the same perspective. “Ten times a day you must over come yourself: that makes you good and tired and is opium for the soul,” (Nietzsche. On the Teaching of Virtue, 28). “For he makes his homes in the characters, in the souls, of gods of men- and not even every soul that comes along: when he encounters a soul with a harsh character, he turns away; but when he finds a soft and gentle character, he settles down into it,” (Plato. The Speech of Agathon, 33). They both talk about finding a soul that is superior and graceful; that you must find and overcome yourself to make your soul pure and good.

In both the Symposium and Thus Spoke Zarathustra there was examples of the “minded body” however, both viewed the subject differently. “The creative body created the spirit as a hand for its will,” (Nietzsche. On the Despisers of the Body, 35). Nietzsche believed that the body and mind are connected as a whole. Nietzsche declares that thinking comes from using both the body and the mind. “After customs he must move on to various kinds of knowledge and be looking mainly not at beauty in a single example,” (Plato. The Speech of Diotima, 58). Plato feels that the mind is separated from the body when you think and that you only think with your mind and not the body and mind as a whole.

In comparing and contrasting both Plato’s Symposium and Nietzsche’s Thus Spoke Zarathustra you see that each of their writings have both similarities and differences. Both of their works had their own views on many topics such as love, body, soul and the minded body. However, regardless of their views and perspectives on these topics they enriched each of their works with all the different topics.

Work Cited
Plato, Alexander Nehamas, and Paul Woodruff. Symposium. Indianapolis: Hackett Pub.,
1989 Print.
Nietzsche, Friedrich. Thus Spoke Zarathustra. Trans. Walter Kaufman. 1966 Print.
Conroy, Francis. In class lecture. Burlington County College. Fall 2010
SparkNotes Editors. “SparkNote on Thus Spoke Zarathustra.”
SparkNotes LLC. n.d.. Web. 8 Nov. 2010.