Thumos

Last updated

Thumos (also commonly spelled 'thymos'; Greek : θυμός) is a Greek word expressing the concept of "spiritedness" (as in "spirited stallion" or "spirited debate"). The word indicates a physical association with breath or blood and is also used to express the human desire for recognition. It is not a somatic feeling, as nausea and giddiness are.

Contents

History

In Homer's works, thumos was used to denote emotions, desire, or an internal urge. Thumos was a permanent possession of living man, to which his thinking and feeling belonged. When a Homeric hero is under emotional stress, he may externalize his thumos and converse with or scold it. [1]

Plato's Phaedrus and his later work The Republic discuss thumos as one of the three constituent parts of the human psyche. In the Phaedrus, Plato depicts logos as a charioteer driving the two horses eros and thumos (erotic love and spiritedness are to be guided by logos). In the Republic (Book IV) soul becomes divided into (See Plato's tripartite theory of soul): [1]

However, the term "emotion" is relatively modern. It was introduced into academic discussion as a catch-all term to passions, sentiments and affections. [2]

Plato suggested we have three parts of our soul, which in combination makes us better in our destined vocation, and is a hidden basis for developing ideas that are innate ideas. Thumos may draw from this to strengthen man with our reasoning, this tripartite division is as follows:

  1. Reason (thoughts, reflections, questioning)
  2. Spiritedness (ego, glory, honor) and
  3. Desires (natural e.g. food, drink, sex vs unnatural e.g. money, power).

Democritus used "euthymia" (i.e. "good thumos") to refer to a condition in which the soul lives calmly and steadily, being disturbed by no fear, superstition, or other passions. For Democritus euthymia was one of the root aspects the goal of human life.

Greek polytheism

Achilles’, in the Illiad, cares for his own honour, he keeps god and deities in his heart; "...the thunderous lord of Hera might grant you the winning of glory, you must not set your mind on fighting the Trojans, whose delight is in battle, without me. So you will diminish my honour." [3]

Thymos and democracy: megalothymia and isothymia

"Megalothymia" refers to the need to be recognized as superior to others, while "isothymia" is the need to be recognized as merely equal to others. Both terms are neoclassical compounds, coined by Francis Fukuyama.

In his book The End of History and the Last Man , the author mentions "thymos" in relation to liberal democracy and recognition. He relates Socrates' ideas about Thymos and desire to how people want to be recognized within their government. Problems emerge when other people do not recognize another's Thymos, and therefore do not provide the justice that it requires. In order for people to exist in harmony, Fukuyama argues, isothymia rather than megalothymia must be used to satisfy the human need for recognition. Any system that creates political inequality is necessarily feeding the megalothymia of some members while denying it to others.

Fukuyama explains how Thymos relates to history with the example of anti-communism in relation to the Soviet Union, Eastern Europe, and China. He states, "We cannot understand the totality of the revolutionary phenomenon unless we appreciate the working of thymotic anger and the demand for recognition that accompanied communism's economic crisis." [4]

Modern concepts

Harvey Mansfield, author of the 2006 book on Manliness, bringing Thumos to political science, in relation to thumos; “Politics is about what makes you angry, not so much about what you want. Your wants do matter, but mainly because you feel you are entitled to have them satisfied and get angry when they are not.” Politics, which political science misses; “is about who deserves to be more important.” [5] [6]

Mansfield says "... people want to stand for something, which means opposing those who stand for something else.”

Robert Kagan defines Thumos as; “a spiritedness and ferocity in defence of clan, tribe, city, or state.” [7] [8] Kagan's argument is men in Western civilization are lacking in thumos, manly virtue, it is what leads many men to self-sacrifice, men must preserve enough thumos to be prepared to die for their country, lest they become decadent and ultimately subservient.

Cultural references

See also

Related Research Articles

Democritus Ancient Greek philosopher, pupil of Leucippus, founder of the atomic theory

Democritus was an Ancient Greek pre-Socratic philosopher primarily remembered today for his formulation of an atomic theory of the universe.

Reason Capacity for consciously making sense of things

Reason is the capacity of consciously making sense of things, applying logic, and adapting or justifying practices, institutions, and beliefs based on new or existing information. It is closely associated with such characteristically human activities as philosophy, science, language, mathematics, and art, and is normally considered to be a distinguishing ability possessed by humans. Reason is sometimes referred to as rationality.

<i>Symposium</i> (Plato) Philosophical text by Plato

The Symposium is a philosophical text by Plato dated c. 385–370 BC. It depicts a friendly contest of extemporaneous speeches given by a group of notable men attending a banquet. The men include the philosopher Socrates, the general and political figure Alcibiades, and the comic playwright Aristophanes. The speeches are to be given in praise of Eros, the god of love and desire. In the Symposium, Eros is recognized both as erotic love and as a phenomenon capable of inspiring courage, valor, great deeds and works, and vanquishing man's natural fear of death. It is seen as transcending its earthly origins and attaining spiritual heights. This extraordinary elevation of the concept of love raises a question of whether some of the most extreme extents of meaning might be intended as humor or farce. Eros is almost always translated as "love", and the English word has its own varieties and ambiguities that provide additional challenges to the effort to understand the Eros of ancient Athens.

Platonic epistemology

In philosophy, Plato's epistemology is a theory of knowledge developed by the Greek philosopher Plato and his followers.

<i>Our Posthuman Future</i>

Our Posthuman Future: Consequences of the Biotechnology Revolution is a 2002 book by Francis Fukuyama. In it, he discusses the potential threat to liberal democracy that use of new and emerging biotechnologies for transhumanist ends poses.

Euthymia is defined as a normal, tranquil mental state or mood. It is often used to describe a stable mental state or mood in those affected with bipolar disorder that is neither manic nor depressive, yet is distinguishable from healthy controls. Euthymia is also used to describe the “baseline” of other cyclical mood disorders like major depressive disorder (MDD), borderline personality disorder (BPD) and narcissistic personality disorder (NPD). This state is the goal of psychiatric and psychological interventions.

The Phaedrus, written by Plato, is a dialogue between Plato's protagonist, Socrates, and Phaedrus, an interlocutor in several dialogues. The Phaedrus was presumably composed around 370 BCE, about the same time as Plato's Republic and Symposium. Although ostensibly about the topic of love, the discussion in the dialogue revolves around the art of rhetoric and how it should be practiced, and dwells on subjects as diverse as metempsychosis and erotic love.

Pathos appeals to the emotions of the audience and elicits feelings that already reside in them. Pathos is a communication technique used most often in rhetoric, as well as in literature, film and other narrative art.

Church and state in medieval Europe

Church and state in medieval Europe includes the relationship between the Catholic Church and the various monarchies and other states in Europe, between the end of Roman authority in the West in the fifth century and the beginnings of the Reformation in the early sixteenth century. The relationship between the Church and the feudal states during the medieval period went through a number of developments. The struggles for power between kings and popes helped shape the western world.

Euthymia is a term used by Democritus to refer to one of the root aspects of human life's goal.

<i>Republic</i> (Plato)

The Republic is a Socratic dialogue, authored by Plato around 375 BC, concerning justice, the order and character of the just city-state, and the just man. It is Plato's best-known work, and has proven to be one of the world's most influential works of philosophy and political theory, both intellectually and historically.

Harvey Mansfield American political philosopher

Harvey Claflin Mansfield Jr. is an American political philosopher. He is the William R. Kenan, Jr. Professor of Government at Harvard University, where he has taught since 1962. He has held Guggenheim and NEH Fellowships and has been a Fellow at the National Humanities Center; he also received the National Humanities Medal in 2004 and delivered the Jefferson Lecture in 2007. He is a Carol G. Simon Senior Fellow at Stanford University's Hoover Institution. He is notable for his generally conservative stance on political issues in his writings.

In Christian theology, the tripartite view (trichotomy) holds that humankind is a composite of three distinct components: body, spirit, and soul. It is in contrast to the bipartite view (dichotomy), where soul and spirit are taken as different terms for the same entity.

The philosopher Plato discusses five types of regimes. They are Aristocracy, Timocracy, Oligarchy, Democracy, and Tyranny. Plato also assigns a man to each of these regimes to illustrate what they stand for. The tyrannical man would represent Tyranny, for example. These five regimes progressively degenerate starting with Aristocracy at the top and Tyranny at the bottom.

In philosophy desire has been identified as a philosophical problem in realising the highest state of human nature 'Moksh'. In Plato's The Republic, Socrates argues that individual desires must be postponed in the name of the higher ideal.

Plato's theory of soul, drawing on the words of his teacher Socrates, considered the psyche (ψυχή) to be the essence of a person, being that which decides how people behave. He considered this essence to be an incorporeal, eternal occupant of our being. Plato said that even after death, the soul exists and is able to think. He believed that as bodies die, the soul is continually reborn (metempsychosis) in subsequent bodies. The Platonic soul consists of three parts which are located in different regions of the body:

  1. the logos (λογιστικόν), or logistikon, located in the head, is related to reason and regulates the other parts.
  2. the thymos (θυμοειδές), or thumetikon, located near the chest region and is related to anger.
  3. the eros (ἐπιθυμητικόν), or epithumetikon, located in the stomach and is related to one's desires.

In philosophy, anamnesis is a concept in Plato's epistemological and psychological theory that he develops in his dialogues Meno and Phaedo and alludes to in his Phaedrus.

Psychagogy is a psycho-therapeutic method of influencing behavior by suggesting desirable life goals. In a more spiritual context, it can mean guidance of the soul. It is considered to be one of many predecessors to modern psychology.

History of the location of the soul Search for a hypothetical soul and its location

The search for a hypothetical soul and its location have been a subject of much speculation throughout history. In early medicine and anatomy, the location of the soul was hypothesized to be physically located within the body. Aristotle and Plato understood the soul as a corporeal form but closely related to the physical world. The Hippocratic Corpus chronicles the evolution of thought that the soul is located within the body and is manifested in diseased conditions. Later, Galen explicitly used Plato's description of the corporeal soul to physical locations in the body. The logical (λογιστικός) in the brain, the spirited (θυμοειδές) in the heart, and the appetitive (ἐπιθυμητικόν) in the liver. Da Vinci had a similar approach to Galen, locating the soul, or ssenso comune, as well as the imprensiva (intellect) and memoria (memory) in different ventricles of the brain. Today neuroscientists and other fields of science that deal with the body and the mind, such as psychology, bridge the gap between what is physical and what is corporeal.

On Passions, also translated as On Emotions or On Affections, is a work by the Greek Stoic philosopher Chrysippus dating from the 3rd-century BCE. The book has not survived intact, but around seventy fragments from the work survive in a polemic written against it in the 2nd-century CE by the philosopher-physician Galen. In addition Cicero summarises substantial portions of the work in his 1st-century BCE work Tusculan Disputations. On Passions consisted of four books; of which the first three discussed the Stoic theory of emotions and the fourth book discussed therapy and had a separate title—Therapeutics. Most surviving quotations come from Books 1 and 4, although Galen also provides an account of Book 2 drawn from the 1st-century BCE Stoic philosopher Posidonius. Little or nothing is known about Book 3.

References

  1. 1 2 Long, A. A. Psychological Ideas in Antiquity. In: Dictionary of the History of Ideas. 1973-74 [2003]. link.
  2. Dixon,T. 2003. From Passions to Emotions: The Creation of a Secular Psychological Category. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. p. 39. link.
  3. Homer (2003). The Iliad (Wordsworth Classics) (New ed.). Ware, Hertfordshire: England: Wordsworth Classics. ISBN   978-1853262425.
  4. Fukuyama, Francis. The End of History and the Last Man. Francis Fukuyama 2006: New York, NY.
  5. Mansfield, Harvey. "How to understand politics". www.firstthings.com/. Retrieved 26 May 2019.
  6. Gewertz, Ken. "Reintroduce Thumos". www.blogs.harvard.edu. Retrieved 26 May 2019.
  7. "Put Thumos in Your Tank". www.standpointmag.co.uk. Retrieved 26 May 2019.
  8. Kagan, Robert (2008). The Return of History and the End of Dreams . New York: United States and Random House: UK: Knopf. ISBN   978-0307269232 . Retrieved May 26, 2019.
  9. "Phanerothyme: A Western Approach to the Religious Use of Psychochemicals". 1968-01-01. Retrieved 2017-02-01.