The Nine Muses and the New Socratic or Philosophic Psychology

   The foundation of our current study of the soul is pre-Socratic, based upon a study of nature that is similar to pre-Socratic philosophy. Our medical psychiatry is at best partial, and in the current crisis, we encourage the study of the soul and man to follow the Socratic philosophers. Socrates, famously, turned from the direct study of nature to the study of virtue and the human things. That is: with Socrates, our psychiatry and psychology might be reset by making the turn to the study of the human things. Scientific psychology might be but a part, subordinated within a philosophic psychology. The only context for the study of the soul, or any genuine psychology, is the lifelong study of the liberal arts, through which each cuts their path, doing the best we are able in a mortal life span. Humans do not, we say, know man in any final science that would justify drugging each, or otherwise interfering as anything but an extreme last resort. We do not know what we are doing when it comes to man, with either education or the healing of the soul, but the most complete theoretical education is again the pre-requisite of any genuine science of the soul.

   The ancient Greeks identified nine muses, prior to Socrates, and these- together with the trivium and quadrivium- constitute what we would call high school studies, though none of us are sufficient even in these. Of the nine muses, two are directly concerned with sciences- Cleo is the muse of history, and Urania the muse of Astronomy. The study of the stars would also include geometry and arithmetic and physics. We add biology and chemistry.

   Three Muses are related to drama: Melpomene of tragedy, Thalia of comedy, and Terpsichore, of choral dance Calliope is she who cares for rhapsodes, and is over epic poetry, as at the opening of the Iliad. Polyhymnia cares for sacred poetry, Erato love poetry, and our favorite, Euterpe, the muse of the lyric poet. It is a good question what sort of poetry Hesiod’s poem would be. It is perhaps under all the muses.

   Music and gymnastics together are the classic education from ancient Greece and Rome.

   Above these studies is the university, where it is possible to complete the background that will allow for the best that can be done for the knowledge of the soul or a genuine psychology. The departments are called Philosophy, theology, politics, psychology, literature and history. Languages and departments such as Classics and Hebrew are possible supplements, and many variations to these study are pursued according to the excellences that happen to develop. But the theoretical background is necessary not only as a context for psychiatry or the practice of the healing of the soul, but also because it is the health of the soul, and its cultivation the best part of the best souls, on which too, a genuine psychiatry would depend. 

   Under these, and distinct from the liberal arts, are any professions, such as medicine, psychiatry and law, teaching or education, engineering business and such, sometimes a part of the university not only to support the enterprise with funds, but also to improve these practices by association with the theoretical or liberal pursuits. It is not clear that psychiatry or education should be professions at all, since Socrates refused to take any money for what he said was found within those he questioned. The subsistence of teachers might be secured for practical reasons, making the work possible, but Socrates again would not sacrifice a shred of his liberty.

   These studies are pursued by association with the greatest minds through the reading of the greatest books, and in the mortal span there is no replacement for this enterprise. The leaders are Plato, Aristotle Xenophon, Plutarch, Shakespeare, Lao Tzu, the Abrahamic texts and the like, expanding out into those responding to this tradition, aiming to include the twelve greatest minds, such as Homer and Rousseau.

   Consider the question of suicide in practical psychiatry, and how much difference it might make to know how to speak in terms of the faith of the subject. Another example is the neglected teaching oin divine madness from the Phaedrus: There are 4 kinds, and our psychiatry- in a sort of barbarism- might easily drug and suppress divine prophesy of love, according to the narrow human sense of the medical psychiatrist.

   Hesiod recommends the muses as a remedy for depression:

Mnemnosyne (Memory) queen of the  of Eleuther, bore these powers that make evils forgotten and bring a cessation to sorrows.

(Theogony, 55)

According to Hesiod R. M. Frazer translation), Kalliope, the muse of epic, is the most important of all…

…for she grants her ready attendance to honorable kings. He to whom these daughters of almighty Zeus are gracious every Zeus-nurtured king they look on with favor at birth, receives from them on his tongue a sweet pouring of heavenly dew, and from his mouth, words flow with gentleness. Then the people all look in honor to him interpreting the laws with verdicts showing straight justice; and he by his smooth and unerring speech swiftly brings to great disagreements a skillful solution. Kings are considered wise because whenever their people need some redress they in assembly see to it that they gain it easily, using their skill in the gentle art of persuasion… 





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