Lecture 22

Lecture 22

What does the phenomenon of hugging reveal? Hugging is a way of sharing the world in an emotive way through bodily contact. The bodily contact only makes sense because emotions, feelings, moods are somatically anchored. An embrace signals a caring, perhaps even protective, inclination toward the other in their world-situation which is felt immediately in an emotive-bodily sense. Physical touch, as Aristotle says, is the most primitive of sense perceptions (ai)/sqhsij) shared by all animal life. It is primitive or 'first' in the sense of taking in the world sensuously in the simplest way, through touch, i.e. through direct contiguity of being and being. Physical touch and being moved emotively by an encounter with the world are so closely related because emotion or mood itself involves the body in the mode of openness to the world signified by moodedness. When friends embrace, through the physical contact they experience each other's mooded being-in-the-world immediately in a bodily, and thus mooded, way. Thus an embrace is more than just a sign of affection and liking, but is also a way of bodily co-involvement with the world and thus supports a shared mood in the closest, most immediate sense possible. Liking or affection for each other means being co-affected by mooded exposure to the world, and such co-affection is experienced bodily in an hug.

Such inclination as shown in liking is the opposite to the concern with one's own self-stand as somewho in the shared social world which is expressed in phenomena such as covert hostility which we have already discussed. Concern with one's own standing in the social world implies drawing a self-defining line of demarcation vis-à-vis the movement of the other's moodedness and thus also an indifference and non-attunement to the other's world situation.

Dislike for the other is an even stronger disinclination toward the other than that of indifference, but whereas indifference signifies a demarcation preventing one from being 'carried apart' (diafe/rein) and carried along by the other's moodedness world-situation, dislike is a lack of sympathy in the sense of a refusal to participate in the other's mooded being-in-the-world but instead a moodful op-position to the other's world-situation. In disliking the other, one also does not wish the other well in their attempts to come to stand in the world with their abilities.


Loving is the most intense form of friendship in being the strongest kind of inclination toward the other in the other's moodful world-predicament. It implies a readiness to sym-pathetically go along with the other in the movement of their moodful exposure to the world. But loving is not just emotional; it is also (mutual) understanding of the other in the other's world-predicament and an openness to taking in, both affectively and understandingly, the other's world predicament from a benevolent stance that wishes the other well in the other's individual striving to gain a stand as somewho in the world through the abilities practised, exercised and attained by the soul. How the other casts self in the world is not only an individual concern, but also my concern. We share that concern. This could be called the understanding side of a love relationship "” mutually sharing the concern for how the other comes to stand in individual existence in the world.

The emotional-moodful side of a love relationship consists in the co-movement in sym-pathy, in an intense form of attunement and sensitivity to each other and co-attunement to the world. Such intensity of worldsharing in co-attunement, however, is at the same time highly unstable and fleeting and only vaguely defined. This is because all attunement (like all understanding), even co-attunement, remains individual attunement. A shared feeling or emotion is shared individually. Furthermore, all mood as a being-affected by the encounter with the world, as a going-along with the movement of the world, lacks definition. It is only understanding and the articulation of understanding in language which brings mood into defined limits. Thus my mood shared with you remains a vague conjecture, an unclear 'casting together' (L. conjectura ). The intensely fleeting and fleetingly intense sharing of the world in co-attunement and attunement toward each other takes place outside or next to the realm of world-openness as defined and demarcated by understanding, i.e. it is not brought to stand in standing presence as a predicament that can be addressed categorically.

Here we have reached a realm or a region that is beside the world traditionally investigated by metaphysics. We have seen that the manly stance and posture in the world is attained, if at all, under the leadership and control of the lo/goj, of understanding. The principal capabilities of good manly human living investigated and explicated by Aristotle and Plato as phronesis, sophrosyne, andreia and dikaiosyne, are all conceived under the leadership of understanding and the power of logos. This means that metaphysics only comes to terms with phenomena insofar as they can be brought to standing presence in definitional, categorical understanding. But what of the vaguer phenomenon of intense co-attunement which is part of a loving relationship?

The sharing of mooded presence in the world is what one could call a union or merging of souls, a common notion in the context of thinking and poetry about love, affection, friendship and suchlike. The human soul has to be thought as the openness of human being to the world, and this openness is, in the first place, moodedness. The indefiniteness of mood, its transient, fleeting character, supports a notion of merging with respect to the phenomenon of co-attunement, i.e. the sharing of the mooded exposure to world. The bodily rooted nature of all moodedness, i.e. of all affectedness by the world, implies also that the union of souls in love or friendship can be described suggestively in a poetic language as 'one soul in two bodies' or 'two hearts beating as one'.

My face in thine eye, thine in mine appeares,

And true plain hearts doe in the faces rest.

(John Donne 1573-1631 The good-morrow)

There can be no doubt that human beings share their moods. The phenomenon of the mood of a crowd already shows that. But this sharing of world-mood, especially on the intense level of an intimate love relationship, flees and escapes definition, although the phenomenon is genuine. Such mooded sharing of world in between is beside standing presence and situated in a nebulous interstice. Aristotle characterizes this interstice through negation as a)/logon, the part of the soul or human openness to being which cannot be brought into defined limits by the lo/goj in understanding. This nebulous between is always characterized by negation and lack from the standpoint of categorial understanding, which is directed primarily toward grasping beings as such as they come to stand in a third person presence. Here, however, with the phenomenon of co-attunement and attunement to one another, of sharing a common movement of being uplifted and downcast through exposure to the world, we again have a phenomenon of the second person (cf. previously on esteem), that of you-and-me. You-and-I is a social phenomenon sui generis which calls for its own language apart from the usual categorial concepts appropriate to establishing and defining beings in the third person.

To be continued...

Posts: 25 | Location: Cologne, Germany | Registered: December 06, 2002Reply With QuoteReport This Post
  Powered by Social Strata  

All posts, unless otherwise publishèd, are © their several authors.