Philosophy professor analyzes Plato’s vision of love and wisdom

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Photo Credit: Macelyn Morris | Daily Texan Staff

Exploring the connection between philosophy and love was the central theme of philosophy professor Paul Woodruff’s lecture Wednesday that analyzed Plato’s work. 

“The word philosopher means lover of wisdom,” said Woodruff, who has taught at UT for more than 40 years, was dean of the School of Undergraduate Studies and director of the Plan II Honors program. 

Woodruff said in Plato’s vision of love, a certain kind of humility is essential.

 

“If you’re a lover of anything, you must recognize that you don’t have it, that you need it, that it’s something missing from you,” Woodruff said. “So to be a lover of wisdom you have to realize that you’re not entirely wise and therefore you’re seeking more wisdom.” 

In addition to making you a lover of sorts, Woodruff said this pursuit of wisdom can make you a better person.

“Realizing that you’re not perfect makes you a seeker and a lover of the good. I think that makes you a better person than you’d be if you thought you had it all, and you knew that you were always doing the right thing,” Woodruff said.

With his lecture, Woodruff said he hopes to inspire students to continue their search for knowledge.

“From this idea, I hope they learn of the value of being a seeker of wisdom,” Woodruff said.

Jenny Ezell, radio-television-film and philosophy junior, said Woodruff’s way of talking about both love and philosophy made the talk interesting. 

“I thought the speaker was so enthusiastic about love,” Ezell said. “Love and philosophy aren’t two topics that are talked about hand in hand with each other, so it was really nice to see that love informs philosophy and vice versa.”

The event, which was held at the Joynes Reading Room, was part of the Joynes Lecture Series coordinated by UT lecturer Matt Valentine. Woodruff said the reading room was created following a donation from Plan II alumnus Mary Lu Joynes. Woodruff said Joynes wanted to support a humanities reading room, and since the reading rooms at the Flawn Academic Center had been converted into office spaces, the Joynes Reading Room was built instead.

“The goal of the reading room is to enrich the educational experience of students at UT Austin and the broader community,” Valentine said.