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Pfister, O. (1922). Plato: A Fore-Runner of Psycho-Analysis. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 3:169-174.

(1922). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 3:169-174

Plato: A Fore-Runner of Psycho-Analysis

O. Pfister

Of all thinkers of the western world Plato was the first to observe our subject deeply and to describe it plainly. According to him, Eros, Love, is above all the instinct of sex or propagation.

He did not in the least depreciate the part played in life by these instincts; the union of man and woman for the purpose of procreation was to him a holy thing (Symposium, chap. 25). But love reaches still greater heights: in the body it seeks and finds the beautiful, noble and gifted soul (Nachmansohn, 78), so that impregnation becomes a spiritual deed. On the ground of this spiritualization Plato creates for himself a reason (or pretext) for praising the love of boys so highly, which as an ethical attitude he places above the love of women. He sees in philosophical tendencies a further exaltation of the love-instinct; Eros is turned to the abstract, to the world of ideas. Finally love attains divinity.

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