Date of Publishing:
October 9, 2014

2015 © Anderwald + Grond


Metis is understood as the cunning intelligence that tricksters of all kinds would use for their purposes. It’s an Ancient Greek word, meaning “cunningness” or “wisdom, craft, skill” ( But, there is also a mythological personification of Metis. Sarah Kofman explains that Socrates, following the sayings of Diotima in Plato’s Symposium (203b, f), gives Love (Eros) a father and a mother: Poros and Penia. Kofman continues with the following:“We are given no information as to the ancestry of Love’s mother; it is as though, in her distress, Penia could have no ancestors, as though she had to be always already an orphan. His father Poros, on the other hand, is, we are told, the son of Metis. This genealogical asymmetry is not, it seems to me, without its significance: to stress the tie of kinship that exists between Love, Poros and Metis is to state that the wily resourceful intelligence that lies at the origin of all technes is also one of the ancestors of philosophy, of the love of Sophia. […] Its kinship with Metis gives philosophy the same soteriological finality as a techne: to discover poroi which can free men from aporia, from all sorts of difficult situations from which there is no way out. It is in effect Metis who allows us to blaze a trail, a poros, a way, to find a path through obstacles, to discover an expedient (poros), to find a way out (poros) of a situation from which there is no way out, which is aporetic. Wherever indeterminacy (apeiras) reigns, wherever there are no limits and no directions, whenever we are trapped, encircled or caught in inextricable bonds, it is, according to Detienne and Vernant, Metis who intervenes, who discovers stratagems, expedients, tricks, ruses, machinations, mechane and techne which allow us to move from the absence of limits to determinacy, from darkness to light. The kinship between Poros and Metis provides an indissoluble link between journey, transition, crossing, resourcefulness, expediency, techne, light and limits (peiras).”
Kofman: Beyond Aporia? In: Post-Structuralist Classics, ed. Andrew Benjamin, New York: Routledge, 1988, p. 8-9.