In "Phaedro", it seems that Socrates argues that love is a form of divine madness. He then claims that lots of divine things are committed by those who are "not in their right mind ". He also states that something is good if it is divine. Was Socrates then arguing that all forms of madness are good or only some forms of madness, and that only some forms of madness are divine, such as love? Would schizophrenia, for example, be considered divine and hence good by Socrates?

How did Socrates define what forms of madness are good and which aren't?

1 Answer 1



See Plato's Phaedrus:

Madness comes in two general forms: the diseased state of mental dysfunction, and a divergence from ordinary rationality that a god sometimes brings (see 265a–b). Divine madness in turn takes different forms: love, Dionysian frenzy, oracular prophecy, and poetic composition (244b–245a). In all four cases the possessed or inspired person (enthousiazôn: 241e, 249e, 253a, 263d) can accomplish what is impossible for someone in a sane state. All four cases are associated with particular deities and traditionally honored.

The madness of the Phaedrus is separated from ordinary madness as the Ion's version is not, and pointedly called a good derangement.

See Phaedrus, 244a-on.

  • Thanks for clearing that up. Must have skimmed over it
    – Charlie
    Commented Feb 3, 2018 at 21:29
  • @Charlie - you are welcome. Commented Feb 4, 2018 at 10:17

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