Socratic Eros Thought and speech as parts of loving

extracts from the letter sent to students for therapeia 2021.1

Reflection, Persuasion and Intelligent Love

Pompeiian fresco of Peitho (left) taking Eros to Aphrodite and Anteros,. (Naples National Museum)

The Good News is that our Great Investigation Into Love has found time for us. We will continue with the challenges of ‘Socratic Eros’, and the necessity of reflection, and the balancing force of inhibition on compulsion, if we wish to create psychic awareness. Please read through this chapter, Myth of Analysis, p72-79, as preparation.

There is enough complexity in this small chapter to entertain us for a weekend. Almost immediately, we encounter other diverts, into the lay-by of logos, the side-roads of thymos, and the detours of daimon.

Regarding the first of these, we have “Logos creates the world as tale and as such is a priori to all its contents and happening.” (p73). For the word logos to be understood, in its context of the word ‘psychology’ (psyche-logos), we would want to check out Healing Fiction, where Hillman explores the way that images tell themselves into dramatic patterns, that we receive and know as myths and stories. From these telling, we gain insights into our psychic reality, our soul.

We could pick out only a few of the most eye-popping passages in Healing Fiction, including how the stories we tell then tell us, and that therapy requires doctoring the story before doctoring the patient; that ‘there is a God in our tellings..’ and the notion of ‘rhetoric as persuasion; and how ‘the unconscious produces dramas, poetic fictions..’

It would be worthwhile to review the previous chapter, ‘Eros’, to prepare for what follows. We travelled by way of Hillman’s essay, ‘The Great Mother’, in order to understand why Hillman writes the game-changing (and potentially uncomfortable) statement, ‘Initiation as a transformation of consciousness about life involves necessarily a transformation of consciousness of sexuality’. We will have to evolve our erotic ideas and behaviours if we want to become psychologically conscious.

So it would also be useful consider the final few pages of The Great Mother essay, (which we attended to in the last series). There, Hillman explains that the consequences of separating the puer from the mother liberates both men and women into a pantheon of other possible relationships, exceeding those defined through the mother. This is a crucial step on the path to mature erotic relationships.