A Phenomenological Critique of Existential Feeling: Affect as Temporality

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Matthew Ratcliffe’s model of existential feelings can be seen as a critical engagement with perspectives common to analytic, theory of mind and psychological orientations that view psychological functions such as cognition and affectivity within normative objective propositional frameworks. Ratcliffe takes a step back from and re-situates objective reifications within an interactive subject-object matrix inclusive of the body and the interpersonal world. In doing so, he turns a mono-normative thinking into a poly-normative one, in which determinations of meaning and significance are relative to the changing structural coherence of felt bodily and inter-socially shaped schemes of interaction. And yet, from the phenomenological vantages of Husserl, Merleau-Ponty, Gendlin and Heidegger, Ratcliffe’s approach retains the metaphysical presupposition of subject-object dualism as interacting bodies, with a separate causative glue necessary to provide for the means of their relation. Ratcliffe re-purposed Damasio‘s concept of background feeling and dressed it up in the garb of phenomenology , but it remains a reciprocal causal model of psychological function. What Heidegger’s Being-in-the -World, Merleau-Ponty’s figure-background structure of corporeal inter-subjectivity, Gendlin’s implicit intricacy and Husserl’s reduced transcendental ego have in common is a radicalized notion of temporality that overcomes the split between subject and object informing Ratcliffe’s understanding of being ‘immersed in’ and connected to a world, and thus abandons the need to posit bodily feeling as a ‘glue’ organizing and maintaining the meaningful structure of consciousness of a world. Temporality , not the empirically causal body, provides the basis of affect, cognition and the organizational glue for structures of meaning.
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First archival date: 2020-02-29
Latest version: 6 (2020-06-22)
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