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« Philosophy  
Introjection of fear - a significant change in human [2]
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A Criticism of Snell's theory

Hermann Schmitz gathered different observations, finding an interesting thesis which can explain them. But before I will bring this thesis closer, I shall present a criticism of Snell's theory made by Schmitz.

Schmitz focuses his critic mainly on the word ¸ĹźĚÂ, which as we already know, means thymos. According to Snell, an organ is just a tool, used for carrying out a job. When something is acting on its own, it can therefore never be an organ. From this view Schmitz raises a question: is the thymos in the Iliad just a tool carrying out a job?

What Schmitz says is that this relation between thymos and a person is in the Iliad a partnership, in which thymos is more often the higher than the lesser partner. Apart from this partnership, evolving itself next to the person, thymos has a little meaning. Schmitz notes that almost every time when the thymos is named in the Iliad, it is described as the self-conscious, energetic engine from the person whom it is tied to. Moreover, in case of a conflict between the person and his thymos, it is the thymos which prevails. Thus, Schmitz makes an obvious conclusion, namely that thymos can never be an organ in the way Snell meant it. Finally, by fitting thymos to such an easy word as 'organ', interpretation of the Iliad will be only more difficult and unclear, instead of becoming easier.

Schmitz's complements

What Schmitz is attempting to prove is his thesis about „introjection of feelings". It is a peculiar and decisive process which took place somewhere between Homer and Plato. Schmitz describes it as discovering the soul and, at the same time, suppressing the body, and names it the „introjection of feelings".

Schmitz claims that primarily a human experienced feelings as forces coming from outside. Feelings were described like a force of moods, aiming at human beings directly, and bodily. They took a place in the heart, in the chest, in the guts. Human attempted to find a counterpoise to this situation, and as a result he created a certain autonomic internal instance. The instance we call „the soul".

The soul, itself having no particular place, took a function of absorbing the body emotions and transforming them into „the affects of the soul". From this moment on, feelings were perceived as the affects of the soul, the moods of the soul and its states. The old way of perceiving feelings as outside forces vanished and was forgotten. In other words, Schmitz understand the „introjection of feelings" as a process of putting a centripetal impact by outside forces of feelings into internal area of the soul.

The external „force of feelings" in the Iliad

The first example showing in what way the Homeric man perceives and experiences things is taken from the scene of the Iliad and is presented by Gernot Böhme in his article Historical anthropology. Pragmatic aspect [ 13 ]. In this example Paris meets Helene after his duel with Menelaus. Before Homer gives the description of how Aphrodite leads Paris in the mist, when he lost his hope to win with Menelaus. Now Paris turns to Helene in these words:

But come now, let us take our joy, bedded
together in love, for never yet has
desire so encompassed my mind — not
even when I first snatched you from
lovely Lacedaemon and sailed with you
on my seafaring ships, and on the
isle of Cranae slept with you on the
bed of love — as now I love
you, and sweet desire seizes me
[ 14 ].

But as Schmitz notices, the contemporary translation obliterates the original Homeric words. The contemporary translation says: „desire so encompassed my mind", while Homer wrote that Eros darkened, or dimmed down the phrene, the area of midriff.

According to Schmitz, phrene was the source of emotions in the center of the body. The ancient man felt the phrene in the situation of concern, worry, fear, shame, or even in thinking. Thus, it is not the matter of deterioration of the mind or senses, but the matter of a change in the center of the body.

The last verse of cited fragment from Iliad can also provoke to some remarks. The words „sweet desire seizes me" do not render the function of Eros properly. Eros was not perceived as something inner, not as an urge which needs to be externalized. Schmitz claims that it is a surrounding force. Paris does not follow some inner desire, but is captivated by external charm of Helene or by the power of Eros. Schmitz underlines that it is a physical enchantment. He says that it lead to something like a change in the body balance (innerhalb leiblischer Ökonomie) — as Böhme names it.

Let us recall already mentioned scene from the Iliad, where Achilles feels an enormous anger towards Agamemnon. We read: „While he pondered this in mind and heart, and was drawing his great sword from its sheath, Athena came from heaven" [ 15 ]. Schmitz argued that this „pondering" is a physical phenomenon. Homer himself mentions that it is connected with thymos and phrene. Thymos is considered by scholars as some sort of organ of the soul; it can also be translated as „courage". Schmitz says that thymos was linked with spirituality, because it can be placed either in the chest, or in the phrene. And the latter, as it has been already noted, is physical.

Development of self-reflection and self-control

The beginning of the Introjection — the transformation of an actual physical 'inside' into a spiritual one — can be found in Odyssey. Schmitz says that this is also a sign for our view on the body. Physical feelings start to loose their importance, although they become a source of a metaphorical way of speaking about the inner self. And thus, we „loose our mind", our „heart is bleeding", etc.

Schmitz distinguishes three phases of the creation of psycho-somatic dualism, considering the human as consisting the body and the soul. He writes that the first stage was connected with Archilochos who did not recognize neither the Introjection, nor dualism, though. The second stage is connected with Pindar who does not mention the Introjection, but talks about dualism. Finally, the third stage belongs to Plato, in whose works not only the Introjection, but also a dualism, can be found.

Schmitz shows how a personal emancipation leaded to the concept of Introjection. He regards it natural for humans to want to have more control over themselves, instead of being controlled by physical and demonic impulses. The ego, "I" tries to be no longer a prisoner of its own feelings or organs. The process is slow, since Homer's „dictates of feelings" cannot be overcome easily and to gain the control over one's thymos is difficult to accomplish. Schmitz in a very convincing way shows that only first in the works of Plato this process of emancipation of "I" is completed. And as Homer identified the dead corps and regarded them merely as bodies, Plato reached the very opposite. The spirit of Platonic human lives on, even when the body passes away. In this way a person cannot die at all, as the soul is what is the most important.


As I attempted to show, the period between Homer and Plato was a time when a very significant transition in human beings occurred. The researches by Bruno Snell and Hermann Schmitz let us see how deeply the human is historical. And common statements about the lack of the „essence" in human, something unchangeable and everlasting, appear in a different light when we realize that, in fact, the human is not the same, and that a change occurred even in his deepest structures.

And as Dilthey claimed, we do understand people of other époques, but not because we are the same. We need the same ability to understand, but for the need to understand to arise, first a difference needs to occur. And this difference definitely had occurred.


  1. Bruno Snell, The Discovery of The Mind, „The Greek Origins of European"; translated by T. G. Rosenmeyer Harper Torchbooks / The Academy Library, Harper & Row, Publishers, New York and Evanston
  2. Hermann Schmitz, System Der Philosophie, „Der Leib"; 2. Auflage 1982, Bouvier Verlag Herbert Grundmann, Bonn
  3. Homer, Iliad, translated by A.T. Murray, 2nd ed. / rev. by William F. Wyatt, Cambridge, MA.: Harvard University Press
  4. Gernot Böhme, Antropologia filozoficzna. Ujęcie pragmatyczne. Wykład XVII. [w:] Antropologia historyczna. Wydawnictwo IFiS PAN, Warszawa 1998

1 2 

 See other sites:
Koncepcja duszy u Platona
Filozofia człowieka integralnego
 Po przeczytaniu tego tekstu, czytelnicy często wybierają też:
Kantowska metafora człowieka urobionego z drzewa rosochatego
Rorty'ego próba odczarowania Filozofii

 Comment on this article..   See comments (2)..   

[ 13 ] Gernot Böhme, Antropologia filozoficzna. Ujęcie pragmatyczne. Wykład XVII. [w:] Antropologia historyczna. Wydawnictwo IFiS PAN, Warszawa 1998
[ 14 ] Homer, Iliad, translated by A.T. Murray, 2nd ed. / rev. by William F. Wyatt, Cambridge, MA.: Harvard University Press, pp. 161
[ 15 ] Ibidem, pp. 26

« Philosophy   (Published: 13-12-2005 Last change: 14-12-2005)

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Weronika Kosińska
Ur. 1983. Studentka filozofii na Uniwersytecie Jagiellońskim. Redaktor "Ekspresu Filozoficznego" (dodatek do czasopisma "Principia"). Pół roku studiowała filozofię w Nijmegen (Holandia). Zainteresowania: film, malarstwo, teatr, fotografia, filozofia (w szczególności antropologia filozoficzna).

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