Thursday, April 4, 2013

Lou Salome


Salome was born in 1861 in Russia, but she also spoke German due to her parents both having a German background. Although Salome is described as having a great childhood, she was also known to have lonely tendencies and sought philosophy to easy these feelings. Salome's father died in 1879 and her and her mother moved to Switzerland a year after. Salome eventually moved in with the philosopher Paul Ree for several years, until she was suddenly married to Fred Charles Andreas. Her and Andreas both studies philosophy and despite being married, never engaged in a sexual relationship. However, Salome had many sexual relations with others while still married, including Fredrick Nietzsche, Sigmund Freud, and Rainer Maria Rilke; all of who spoke very highly of her intellectually. Salome's philosophy was that marriage love and sexual love should not be mixed. She believed that experiencing love through sexual relations allowed her to not to be possessed by it. After a long life Salome died in 1937 of breast cancer.
Salome's interests in philosophy were religion, ethics, love, and sexuality; all in which were through phenomenological observations. Salome was not concerned with whether one should believe in the claims of God, but what the most effective aspects of the beliefs were. She believed "The 'essence of religious thought' is for her the human need to merge 'with the powers of the outer world'..." (pg. 72) Many have claimed that Salome's religious views were shaped by Nietzsche, but others have thought that much of her work resembles Spinoza. Although there was feminist work being done around Salome, she neither joined nor opposed forces. Instead, she thought that her writing and working as a woman was a statement within itself. However whenever her work was discussed, her gender was always noted. Salome acknowledged the differences between men and women, but insisted that the differences between sexes "did not prove women to be inferior to men" (pg. 74) Salome also wrote on love and sexuality, while also practicing what she wrote. Salome believed that "Only in the experience of love... does 'our deepest entry to our self' become possible... a spiritual homecoming." Salome claimed that love was a way to transcend consciousness "by delving into our primal depths." (Pg. 74) Salome also was the first woman to work as a psychoanalyst. Her concentrations in psychoanalytic were in religion and the nature of women’s' sexuality, which were influenced by Freud. Salome claims that a woman's nature is one "whose spirit is sex, whose sex is spirit." (Pg. 76) She also though that eroticism was part of a woman's 'primal unity'. Salome's most original psychoanalytic work was on narcissism. She claimed that narcissism was the "embodying the duel currents of self-love and self-surrender." (pg. 76) Salome saw narcissism as a positive characteristic and explained how it ranged within three phases. These phases where, 'a particular developmental stage to transcend', 'creative... the persistent accomplishment of all our deeper experience, always present, yet still far beyond any possibility of hewing its way from consciousness into unconscious', and the 'self-knower'. (Pg. 76) Over Salome's life she had published three books. One was a book on Rilke which exemplified her literary criticism and psychoanalysis. Another she wrote was a book on Freud, called Thanks to Freud. Salome's third book was her autobiography, which was originally titled Ground-plan of Some Life-recollections. While suffering from a terminal illness, Salome also wrote briefly on death. She wrote, 'deep down, knowing how to live and knowing how to die go together.' Salome died just before her seventy-sixth birthday and her last recorded words were, 'The best is death, after all.' (Pg. 77)

Personal Response

This has been the most interesting woman philosopher that I have read. Although promiscuous, I found it amazing that she worked closely with Nietzsche, as well as Freud. Nietzsche had stated that Salome prepared him to write Thus Spoke Zarathustra, which was one of his most famous books. Salome appears to have been a renegade of her time having worked with so many other influential thinkers of her time, even if this meant being sexually promiscuous. However, even her sexual tendencies were defended in her beliefs about what a woman's nature is. I think that her work on narcissism is original and I am interested to read more. I would like to her more about her in philosophy class and think that it’s strange that I have not heard of her before.


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