Vignette on The Symposium. The first orator is called Phaedrus. He presents Eros as one of the most ancient and powerful gods. Eros gives humans the possibility to love each other, and thus to live in a paradisiacal and reparative emotional state in a world often difficult to handle.
The second orator, Pausanias, distinguishes two form of love. The first is a love between two souls, without doubt what Phaedrus was speaking about. The second is an attraction between bodies that often lead to a moral decline of the soul.
The homage delivered by the third orator, the physician Eryximachus, is the one that interests us here. Phaedrus had presented Eros as one of the most ancient and powerful gods of the universe. To believe that he only occupies himself with the amorous sentiments of individual humans is not, consequently, doing him justice. The amorous sentiments are but a human expression of the fundamental forces that regulate the relations between all that exists in the universe: galaxies, stars, plants, animals, organs, atoms, and so on. Eros is therefore a force of the universe. As Pausanias has shown, Eros creates intense and creative links between the elements of the cosmos, whereas Chaos, born just before Eros, creates destructive links between all that exist. Phaedrus has already showed how the birth of Eros repaired the damage caused by his older brother. In medicine, Eros is the force that regulates a constructive attraction between the elements of a body and what allows for a healthy life; whereas Chaos deregulates the attractions and the pleasures of the body and renders everything unwell. This perspective shows that the constructive and destructive forces of human love are animated by such powerful universal forces that we can now understand the importance of Eros, who is one of the principal gods of medicine.43 Eros is therefore not only the god of love, of the attraction between atoms, but also of healing.
Eryximachus thus describes the therapeutic act as a way of supporting the influence of Eros. This proposition has had a considerable influence on all of the therapists influenced by Idealism The duty of the physician is to reinforce the harmony between the elements of the body and foster the birth of a state of love and harmony in an organism torn apart by discordant forces. This task is difficult to the extent that there exist numerous elements that have contradictory functions in an organism, like cold and hot, bitter and sweet, wet and dry. It is not possible to contemplate that blood would become dry like a bone or bones fluid like blood. That is why it requires enormous experience before a physician can become able to restore all of the dissimilar elements of the organism into lovers of one another.
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