Turning the Soul: Humanities and the Hero's Journey

Vishwa Adluri at Strand Bookstore

Fri, Oct 27 at 7 p.m.   |   90 minutes

We'll take up the battle between instinct and knowledge and the role it plays in humanities today. Applying the hero's journey to the teacher-student dynamic makes room for a fulfilling and transformative kind of education.

We find the archetype of 'the Hero' in films, plays, novels, myths, psychological development etc. as the person who leaves the comforts of their life to undertake a journey that benefits others. In this Olio we'll discuss different ways to understand the idea of the hero and how it should be applied as the very foundation of our education.

Today, humanities studies the material conditions of texts and works of art without giving an account of the relationship between this knowledge and the soul of the student. I.e the student is given information yet no instruction on how to put it into action in daily life. But is it possible for humanities to function without an acknowledgment of the soul?

This Olio discusses the work of Freud and Nietzche to demonstrate the need for a different kind of humanities which is not merely materialistic. The conception of the hero (one who goes on an inward journey to face their unconscious and emerges victorious, with new insight and creative power) plays a central role in Nietzche and Freud's construction of humanities. Within their writings we meet with two different aspects of the hero on a spiritual quest. Applying the hero's journey to the teacher-student dynamic makes room for a fulfilling and transformative kind of education.

We will uncover the relationship between these two conceptions of the hero and in doing so, we'll take up the secret battle between instinct and knowledge and the role it plays in humanities today.

"The modern hero, the modern individual who dares to heed the call and seek the mansion of that presence with whom it is our whole destiny to be atoned, cannot, indeed must not, wait for his community to cast off its slough of pride, fear, rationalized avarice, and sanctified misunderstanding. … It is not society that is to guide and save the creative hero, but precisely the reverse. And so every one of us shares the supreme ordeal—carries the cross of the redeemer—not in the bright moments of his tribe’s great victories, but in the silences of his personal despair.” - Joseph Campbell

Teacher: Vishwa Adluri

Vishwa holds PhDs from the New School and University of Marburg, Germany. He recently published 'The Nay Science' and is the author of many books and articles. Dr. Adluri teaches courses on: Approaches to Religion, Indian Philosophy, Christian Theology, Mysticism, Hinduism, art history and The Religious Meaning of Death. He has been thinking about Space, Time, and Death since he was 5.


Venue: Strand Bookstore

What is Think Olio?


Think Olio is here to put the liberation back into the liberal arts.

Classically, the liberal arts, were the education considered essential for a free person to take an active part in civic life. To counter a humanities that has been institutionalized and dehumanized we infuse critical thinking, openness, playfulness, and compassion into our learning experience.

Read more about our mission, our story, and how we are doing this.

Scenius Membership

If Friday night lectures, museum field trips, and living room salons sound like your kind of thing, then you've found your people. We can't wait to welcome you to the Think Olio Scenius. More info


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Government Action and Inaction in Response to Covid-19

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Liaisons Host an Olio

Olio: A miscellaneous collection of art and literature.