Here’s a sneak peek from the new issue of EnlightenNext — our definition of a term that every evolutionary should know:
The creative energy and intelligence that drives the evolutionary process at all levels of existence.
In the mythical pantheon of ancient Greek gods, Eros was commonly portrayed as a young winged archer whose golden arrows struck the hearts of gods and mortals alike, causing them to be overcome by sexual passion. “Once again,” wrote Sappho of Lesbos, “Eros drives me on, that loosener of limbs, bittersweet creature against which nothing can be done.”
Today he is better known by his Roman name, Cupid. But beneath the erotic and cherubic exterior, Eros has always possessed a deeper mystical significance as the primordial power of creation itself. The Pythagorean and Orphic mystery schools invoked him as Eleutherios, “the liberator,” and Protogonos, the luminous and genderless “first born” of the gods, who arose out of the empty void of Khaos to create the harmonious order and beauty of the Kosmos. In The Passion of the Western Mind, Richard Tarnas describes this subtler conception of Eros—espoused most eloquently by Plato—as “a complex and multidimensional archetype which at the physical level expresses itself in the sexual instinct, but at higher levels impels the philosopher’s passion for intellectual beauty and wisdom, and culminates in the mystical vision of the eternal, the ultimate source of all beauty.”
When we use the term “Eros” in EnlightenNext magazine, we’re continuing in the lineage of the ancient Greeks but reinterpreting it in a context of cosmic evolution. And while some early Greek works hint at the idea of evolution, it wasn’t until the emergence of post-Darwinian philosophers in the twentieth century, such as Charles Sanders Peirce and Alfred North Whitehead, that Eros began to be seen as the creative force that drives the evolutionary process. “We have to ask,” wrote Whitehead, “whether nature does not contain within itself a tendency to be in tune, an Eros urging towards perfection.”
Whitehead’s ideas were a primary influence on the contemporary integral philosopher Ken Wilber, who defines Eros as “the drive that takes you beyond yourself.” EnlightenNext editor in chief Andrew Cohen calls that drive the “evolutionary impulse,” explaining that when one begins to consciously identify with that impulse in oneself, a powerful new recognition begins to emerge. “Each one of us, at our highest level,” he writes, “is actually not separate from the energy and intelligence that originally inspired the entire creative process. You begin to intuit, and feel directly connected to, the very impulse that initiated this whole event fourteen billion years ago and is driving it right now.”
Filed Under: Best of the Blog • Consciousness • Cosmology • EnlightenNext Editors’ Blog • Evolutionaries • Evolutionary Enlightenment • Evolutionary Spirituality • Integral Philosophy • Philosophy • Spirituality