Favourite Reads

Each month, we ask a different member of our department to select a book on philosophy that has had a lasting impact on them and to share their thoughts and reflections on why it's such an important read.

January Pick | Selected by Dr Samantha Fazekas

Plato | Symposium

I had no intention of studying philosophy. When Socrates defines philosophy as the love of wisdom in the Symposium, I realized that studying medicine was not the right path for me. I decided to follow Socrates in caring for the soul rather than caring for the body.

Socrates explains that we become wise by ascending the ladder of love. We start by loving the beauty in one body, then the beauty in all bodies. Subsequently, we recognize that the soul is more beautiful than the body. We then come to see the beauty in the law, in knowledge, and finally in the Form of Beauty itself.

The last step comes with a metaphysical roadblock. We can never fully obtain wisdom in this life because the Form of Beauty resides in the heavenly realm. This implies that we can only become wise when the soul departs from the body. 

Naturally, the questions arise: if we cannot fully obtain wisdom, then why should we love and pursue it? Why should we ‘do philosophy’ in the first place?

What inspired my love for philosophy is that the pursuit of wisdom is endless. Although the last rung of the ladder remains outside of our reach, we learn things about the world and about ourselves along the way.

Plato’s Symposium continues to remind me that philosophy is a way of life that is motivated by love – by the desire to know what we do not know. In this way, philosophy entails intellectual humility and keeps an eternal wonder about the world alive. 

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Dr Samantha Fazekas

Teaching Fellow, Department of Philosophy, Trinity College Dublin

Samantha completed her PhD in philosophy at TCD in 2023. Her PhD thesis justified Hannah Arendt’s appropriation of Immanuel Kant’s aesthetic reflective judgment as a model for shaping political judgments.

She has taught at the Philipps-Universität Marburg, Germany; DCU; and TCD. Her research areas are in political and moral philosophy, Kantian and post-Kantian philosophy. Samantha also enjoys teaching environmental ethics and ancient philosophy.

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