C.G. Jung Letters, Vol. 1: 1906-1950

To Erminie Huntress Lantero

Dear Mrs. Lantero, 18 June 1947

Please forgive the long delay of my answer to your letter.

It is not neglect that has hindered me from answering it sooner.

Your dilemma Agape-Eros is a most interesting problem.

There is indeed a big gap between the concept of Agape and the one of Eros.

The former has a definitely intellectual and ethical character, while the latter, as I apply it, has very much more the quality of an empirical concept formulating certain observable psychological facts.

Of course, I did not invent the term Eros.

I learnt it from Plato.

But I never would have applied this term if I hadn’t observed facts that gave me a hint of how to use this Platonic notion.

With Plato Eros is still a daimonion or daemonium in that characteristic twilight in which the gods began to change into philosophical concepts during the course of centuries.

As I am thoroughly empirical I never took a philosophical concept for its own sake.

It was a word to me, which designated something tangible and observable, or it meant nothing.

Thus when I tried to formulate the keynote of the general masculine attitude I fell upon the term Logos which looked to me to be the right word for the observed facts.

The same when I tried to formulate a woman’s general attitude I came upon the word Eros.

Logos, being an intellectual something, naturally has the character of discrimination which is the essential basis of any intellectual judgment.

Eros, on the other hand, is a principle of relatedness, and since I wanted to apply a characteristic term for relatedness it was naturally the word Eros which presented itself.

I didn’t take this word from anybody.

I took it from my vocabulary and I said in so many words what I meant by it, namely a principle of relatedness.

I took this term and not the term Agape, because relatedness is a natural feature of human psychology, but Agape is not.

It is a very specified ethical concept.

Eros is nothing of the kind.

That is the reason why you find, as you say, Eros not only in the ancient Chinese religion but in many primitive religions as well.

As my whole psychology derives from immediate experience with living people, it is a matter of course that my concept of Eros also originated in immediate experiences.

My experience is a medical one in the first place, and only in the course of many years I began to study comparative religion and I also studied primitive psychology, partially in the field.

But all that came afterwards and it merely substantiated what I had found with modern individuals.

There is not one single thing in my psychology which is not substantiated essentially by actual experiences.

To my knowledge this idea of Eros has not been anticipated in modern literature, simply because nobody else has based it upon immediate observation.

Sincerely yours,

C.G. Jung ~Carl Jung, Letters Vol. 1, Pages 464-466.