Volume 40, Issue Supplement, 2015
Selected Papers from the XXIII World Congress of Philosophy
Ironic Eros: Notes on a Fantastic Pregnancy
This paper is an investigation of Plato’s thought that the disruptive force of Eros can lead us in a good direction. It takes seriously Diotima’s teaching to Socrates that the erotic encounter with the beautiful beloved stimulates a pregnancy in the lover. This paper argues that Plato did not, and we should not, think of this pregnancy merely as a metaphor or an allegory. The paper also argues that we misread Diotoma’s account of erotic ascent if we think of the lover as coming to disdain his first loves, the beautiful body or the beautiful individual. What he comes to disdain is the thought that this could be the ultimate telos of his quest. But the beloved, or the memory of the beloved, in all his or her corporeality remains of crucial importance throughout the lover’s life. Giving birth in the beautiful—however creative the act—occurs in the aura of the beloved. The paper then takes these Platonic ideas and investigates them in relation to a fantasy-pregnancy that was long suppressed in the history of psychoanalysis: that of the patient known as Anna O. giving birth to her doctor’s baby. The paper argues that this should be understood as a pregnancy of soul—one that played a significant role in giving birth to psychoanalysis itself.