The corporeal experience of a good philosophical conversation

Let us define eros as an experience of nearness and extraordinary aliveness. Then we can begin to describe the experience of eros for an adept in philosophical life. My experience anyway.

As a good philosophical conversation unfolds, I sense eros like so (though the ‘feel’ of each event is different, unique, fine-grained):

  • my lungs grow larger, deeper, fuller;
  • my breathing gets deeper, reaches farther down into the diaphragm and past that even, sometimes as low as my belly-button; sometimes my lungs flutter;
  • my eyes get softer, watery, bluer, unfocused on one thing, focused on the brightness and ‘feel’ of colors;
  • my hearing becomes more acute, more attentive;
  • my throat narrows as if speaking were not ‘too much’ but simply unnecessary;
  • my jaw, neck, and facial muscles soften, slide down, remain still;
  • above all, my words grow longer, slower, grainier, more textured.

Poor inquiries do not elicit these corporeal experiences of sober joy. These experiences accompany only good inquiries in which we make sense of things, and they occur most often near the end. With especially good conversation partners, they occur in the beginning even. Interestingly, it does not matter whether the philosophical conversation takes place in person or over the phone. Regardless, it is a form–perhaps one of the highest forms–of intimate knowing.

A conversation ends with a deep exhalation, as full and slow as an exhalation can possibly be. Not before and not held onto after. The period achieves its purest expression in the philosophical good-bye.