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Document Details :
Title: Transgressie of transformatie?
Subtitle: Een nadere toelichting van het begrip eros in Staat van verwarring
Author(s): VERBRUGGE, Ad
Journal: Tijdschrift voor Filosofie
Volume: 76 Issue: 4 Date: 2014
At the end of his review of my latest book Staat van verwarring. Het offer van liefde, Emanuel Rutten poses some critical remarks in regards to my interpretation of eros. In my response, I will show that Rutten neglects several central motives in my understanding of the relationship between eros and philia. The core issue of my book — the (post-)modern confusion in love and relationships — is not the inner tension that we experience between communal being and transgressive being. In fact, I intend to criticize this way of thinking (of postmodern philosophy) and interpretations that associate eros with, what I call, a tradition of ‘split ontology’ (Freud, Heidegger a.o.). The loss of control in sexual extremism and in kicks is not a real loss of subjectivity, but rather its confused manifestation. Eros implies the abolition and elevation of subjectivity by surrendering oneself to the beloved and shaping a communal life. In my view, eros should be distinguished from lustful desire (epithumia) and its boundless sexual manifestations wherein people lose themselves. Eros can refer to sexual intercourse, but lust as such is not its main goal. Instead of focusing on the transgressive manifestations of sex, I start with pointing out the transformative nature of eros: the death of the natural individual (and its subjectivity) and its resurrection in a higher state of being, in community with someone else. This kind of communal transformation — which can indeed take place in an erotic sexual practice — requires rituals or shared forms between lovers. The central issue of my book is the lack of and the confused need for transformation and shared forms of communal being (of men and women) in our virtual consumer society of ‘siblings’, particularly in relation to our bodily nature. This is the reason I believe there to be a rise in popularity of bdsm-erotica in popular culture, for example in books like Fifty Shades. In its dynamic form, eros has a teleological structure. The lover is dedicated toward the (beautiful) fulfilment or flourishing of the person whom he loves and finds his own fulfilment in this dedication. To clarify this notion of dedication, I introduce the ‘Apollonian’ concepts of discipline, concentration, attention and creativity, which also apply to sexuality. In fact they are essential to erotic practices like tantra. Instead of focusing on transgression, I stress the ‘temporal difference’ between philia and eros: philia is more static and is related to daily life, the people with whom you are familiar, the groups to which you belong… Eros belongs to the adventurous side of life and is related to the significant others to whom you are attracted and with whom you become involved, without knowing exactly what will happen and how it will change you. As such, eros is first and foremost place atopic with respect to one’s own life in relation to the other. This does not mean, however, that it always opposes a social order! Nevertheless, the kinds of surrender and bonding that are necessary for an erotic transformation are at odds with the ideal of individual autonomy and the dominance of subjective experiences and kicks in our virtual consumer society. In this sense, we are not living in very erotic times…