ORDO AMORIS AND WORLD-OPENNESS Philosophy of Emotions and Process of Individuation of the Person – Verona, May 27-30th, 2015

sabato, 23 Maggio, 2015


Philosophy of Emotions and Process of Individuation of the Person

XIII International Conference of Max-Scheler-Gesellschaft

University of Verona

Via S. Francesco, Aula T5

27-30th May 2015

The perception of the importance of emotions changed radically during the decade from 1987 to 1996. This was particularly due to some works that reached the general public, such as R. De Sou-sa (1987), A. Damasio (1993), D. Goleman (1995) and J. LeDoux (1996). Before 1987 the dominant idea was that emotions were the tardy and secon-dary result of cognitive activity. At the beginning of the twentieth century an important exception was represented by Max Scheler’s phenomenology of emotions, to whom the Conference is dedicated. We can attempt to sum up his position in six main points:

1. Feelings and emotions are not the final result of a cognitive process, on the contrary they are the origin of every perceptive and cognitive process: in the beginning was the emotion. In this sense, «every primary relationship with the world […] is essentially and primarily not a representational or perceptive relationship, but an emotional relation-ship» (M. Scheler, Formalismus, GW II, 206);

2. Feelings and emotions are not confined to a solipsi-stic dimension. They are what allows us to get into contact with others and make empathy possible. Through the act of feeling we are able to have a direct perception of the other person’s expressivity, without the need for an argument from analogy. In the other’s smile we can perceive his intentions and his happiness directly (M. Scheler, Zur Phänomen-ologie und Theorie der Sympathiegefühle von Lie-be und Hass, 1913);

3. Feelings and emotions are not inner and private sta-tes, but they give shape to a precise “emotional bre-akthrough” (emotioneller Durchbruch) into reality: by which the human being places his own existence in the world. In fact emotions draw the landscape of our experience, they let shapes and irregularities emerge and outline elevations and abysses where only a flat and colourless plain would have existed (M. Scheler, Zur Rehabilitierung der Tugend, 1913);

4. In the human being feelings are not regulated au-tomatically. The development of an ordo amoris is a process that is not prearranged from the start, but on the contrary requires a formation process (Bildung). In this process of affective formation, every human being ushers in their singularity. Each ordo amoris matches a different perspective on World-Opennes (Weltoffenheit) (M. Scheler, Ordo amoris, 1916 ca.);

5. There is not an immediate feeling at the roots of ethics, but an act of feeling that takes shape in a maturation process aimed at transcending the self-referential horizon of one’s own egological pole (epoché from egocentrism and narcissism). This act of feeling deals with the objectivity of va-lue judgments just as the external perception deals with that of factual judgments, and is affected by phenomena of illusion just as the external percep-tion. In contrast with Brentano, there isn’t therefo-re a priority of inner perception over external per-ception: even feeling and emotions are affected by phenomena of illusion and deception. This means that, at the core of the phenomenology of feelin-gs, there is the problem of emotional maturity (M. Scheler, Die Idole der Selbsterkenntnis, 1911)

6. To rehabilitate emotions doesn’t imply an indivi-dualistic ‘emotionalism’: the rehabilitation of emo-tions is not aimed at the exaltation of an immediate act of feeling, but at the process of cultivation of emotions that leads to self-transcending of the im-mediate act of feeling through virtue (M. Scheler, Zur Rehabilitierung der Tugend, 1913).

The aim of this conference is to deal with the abo-ve-mentioned issues, keeping in mind the present debates, in particular the ones about personal iden-tity, about the phenomenology of otherness, about the concepts of body schema and body image and about the we-intentionality. For some scholars, the-re is also a need to emphasize the limits of classi-cal cognitivism concerning emotions. David Hume had already proved that the problem of personal identity can no longer be understood in terms of a “rational self”, but should only start from passions, i.e. in terms of a “moral self”. Hence, a sequence of open questions: in what way does emotional expe-rience affect the individuation process of a person? In what way are individual transformation and so-cial transformation intermingled? In what way do feelings guide our relation with the world and with otherness? In what way do emotions allow us to express and shape what we are?


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