Encyclopedia of Psychology and Religion

2014 Edition
| Editors: David A. Leeming


Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4614-6086-2_28

Plato’s Symposium addresses the subject of human nature (anthrōpinen physin) in its former state (palai hemōn physis) (189D). According to the speaker, Aristophanes, there were not two but three “kinds” (ta genē) of humans: male (arren), female (thēlu), and an equal combination of both male and female (ampheterōn) (189D). In this third type, male and female are joined into the form (eidos) of one unity, androgynon (189E). This androgynon is quite vital, which, according to Aristophanes, threatens the gods who thus split the form in half, creating the separate forms, male and female. Each has only a portion of the original vigor and is therefore no longer a concern to the divine patriarchy. Aristophanes says, this “man-woman” nature has ultimately been vanished (aphanistai), and Aristophanes himself appears to devalue it by referring to it as a “thing” (auto). Other notions of androgyny also occur. The ancient Gnostic text Interrogationes maiores Mariaequoted by Epiphanius of Salamis...

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© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of TheologyFordham UniversityNew YorkUSA