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Consciousness and the Paranormal — Part 12


Paranormal Adept
More than a Feeling: Affect as Radical Situatedness

Martin Heidegger’s perspective stands out among the many proposals for understanding affect in the phenomenological tradition. One reason for this is that Heidegger is the most thorough anti-Cartesian among the phenomenologists. He rigorously disbands affectivity from notions of psychological interiority, inner states, or other individualist allegiances, construing affect instead as a form of being open to the world in a radical sense. Another reason is that Heidegger places affect in the thick of everyday social and interpersonal commerce—within the warp and weft of all our days. With this orientation, he manages to combine a sense for ordinary comportment and experience—a phenomenological and cultural analysis of the everyday—with a profound sense for the ontological depths of human existence. Rarely have the mundane and the metaphysical been so thoroughly co- articulated; and yet Heidegger works from an acute sense of the massive discordance between these two distinct but interwoven layers of existence. Despite this promising outlook, there is much one should take issue with in Heidegger’s work, above all and most strikingly his dubious politics. My way of dealing with this problematic is not the usual one of trying to identify fascistic or proto-fascistic tendencies in Heidegger’s philosophy (I made a start at that elsewhere, see Slaby forthcoming). Rather, in the final section of this article, I will indicate how the perspective on affect and historicity developed here might help us turn Heidegger’s insights against his own putative political orientation. I will mainly focus on two aspects of Heidegger’s view, as these might help orient critical work on affect in philosophy and the humanities today.

I elaborate these points for the most part by way of an exegetical engagement with key passages from Being and Time. But ultimately, the position articulated here will be largely independent of Heidegger’s own concerns, that is, fundamental ontology. What matters for the present approach is the clarification of two interrelated points that can inform current work on affect independently of how one stands toward the project of Being and Time. The first point concerns the synchronic situatedness of affect. On the reading proposed here, affectivity must be construed as the radical situatedness of an agent in their factual surroundings. An important consequence of this is that affectivity cannot be restricted to what is currently felt or otherwise apprehended. The reach of affective disclosure outruns what is consciously registered at a given moment so that there “is” at all times more “in” affectivity than one is presently aware of or actively in touch with. This has consequences for understanding affective intentionality and for addressing questions as to the appropriateness of affective comportment, which points to the more general issue of the normativity pertaining to affect. Second, this affective situatedness crucially encompasses temporality. It is a situatedness in time, a diachronic situatedness that crucially reigns over synchronic situatedness. More than that, what affectivity gets us in touch with is the concrete past—lived, ongoing history—insofar as this past continues to weigh on and sets the stage for present and future comportment. Against the prioritizing of the present in many approaches to affect, Heidegger helps us appreciate the massive extent to which affect is, almost literally, a thing of the past. Affect is a central conduit for how the past prevails within the texture of the present—for how it comes to matter again and again in ongoing comportment.

The article is structured as follows. I begin by summarizing the gist of Heidegger’s approach to affectivity, focusing on the term Befindlichkeit and its translations into English (Section 2). Next, I elucidate what Heidegger means by “thrownness,” suggesting an understanding in terms of radical situatedness (Section 3). Then I discuss Katherine Withy’s concept of “disclosive posture,” as it can help appreciate the sense in which affect encompasses both, a type of comportment (posture) and a way of being in touch with the world that radically outstrips any sense of cognitive grasp, representational uptake, or consensual sense-making (disclosure) (Section 4). In the last two sections, I deal with the temporal dimension of affectivity, first by revisiting some key themes from Division II of Being and Time (Section 5), and then, in closing, by suggesting ways to move forward with forms of affect and emotion research that are mindful of the past’s continuous weighing on the present (Section 6). . . ."



Paranormal Adept
"Your total state of subjective consciousness is not generated by your conscious mental action at all (though of course it may have mental actions as a component). The subject's file on itself, if it is to contribute to the explanation of subjectivity, must be regarded as operating on representations which are precursors of the representations that underlie conscious events and states, on pain of misrepresenting consciousness and phenomenology."

Amazon.com: The Mirror of the World: Subjects, Consciousness, and Self-Consciousness (Context & Content) (9780199699568): Christopher Peacocke: Books

Peacocke's ramifying statement quoted above from The Mirror of the World is developed in this paper of his available in a pdf published in a different book, at:


ETA; Unfortunately the above link to the paper entitled "Subjects and Consciousness" is not available in the U.S. I did have access to it the other night but wasn't able to finish it. Hope to contact Peacocke and ask him to make it available at academia.edu.
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Paranormal Adept
@Pharoah, I'm unable to open the above text from here in the US and wonder if you are able to locate in the UK another online site that provides the pdf of this text without such restrictions? Thanks for checking this out. :)

ps, it seems that Peacocke's publisher must be responsible for the restrictions on the text I want, titled "Subjects and Consciousness," because much of it is included in the book The Mirror of the World: Subjects, Consciousness, and Self-Consciousness. Seems unreasonable to me.
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