The Epistemic Import of Affectivity: A Husserlian Account

Midwest Studies in Philosophy 41 (1):82-104 (2017)
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I argue that, on Husserl's account, affectivity, along with the closely related phenomenon of association, follows a form of sui generis lawfulness belonging to the domain of what Husserl calls motivation, which must be distinguished both (1) from the causal structures through which we understand the body third-personally, as a material thing; and also (2) from the rational or inferential structures at the level of deliberative judgment traditionally understood to be the domain of epistemic import. In effect, in addition to recognizing a “space of causes” and a “space of reasons,” Husserl’s account of affectivity and the epistemology of passive synthesis in which it is situated suggest that we should recognize a separate “space of motivations.” Within this space, on Husserl’s phenomenological picture, we can isolate two different sorts of epistemic import, one belonging directly to the passive-synthetic content of experience, as explained in Husserl’s account of association and his closely aligned notion of nonlinguistic sense, and a second—my primary focus—affectivity, which is still relevant for that content, albeit indirectly, and holds epistemic import in its determination not of what that content is but of how it comes to matter for us.
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