Colombetti and enactive affectivity:
Like Leman’s embodied music cognition, Colombetti argues that affectivity (the feeling body) is not a contingent feature of the mind, but an essential dimension of embodied living. Colombetti argues that current theories about emotion don’t account for the feeling body, thus they overlook widespread phenomena of biological organisms. From a phenomenological perspective, Colombetti argues that emotion is integral to both perception and action, and that a goal orientated corporeality results as action from the feeling body. For example, physical reactions (such as frowning, smiling, shaking, clenched fists etc.) are bodily responses to felt emotion and in turn so can further action be. Colombetti addresses “appraisal”, which is central to cognitive approaches to emotion, but, like Leman, argues that disembodied approaches to cognition are not valid. Through phenomenological consideration, Colombetti argues that embodied approaches to appraisal are essential in order to address the overlap between emotion and cognition; it is not possible to separate appraisal from embodiment. Similar to Leman, Colombetti argues that the body is a medium through which experiences are felt, and there is a distinction between this and the body as an intentional object of experience. Nevertheless, within the body there is a complex network of interrelationships.
“The body of the inactive mind is thus not just the perceiving and acting body but the living body, and as such it includes, for example, the circulatory system, the immune system, and the endocrine system. These dimensions of the body are all seen as contributing to the kind of mind one has.” (Colombetti 2014, Loc 156)
Points to agree with and consider (affective phenomenology):
- Affective science is closely related to cognitive science, but is commonly understood to be concerned with the phenomena of emotion. A central idea to enactivism is embodiment. Phenomena such as emotions and moods cannot be separated from bodily experiences, and the comprehension of bodily experience. Phenomenological approaches, as well as other approaches to lived experience, should be taken.
- Merlaeu-Ponty made the most room for the lived body in his phenomenology of perception: “motion intentionality” and “corporeal schema” refers to a concrete and practical reaching out through the medium of the body to the world. The philosophy of Biran is particularly suitable for developing an account of affectivity where kinaesthetic dimensions of the lived body are central to experience.
- Heidegger claims that we are made up of moods that are modes of being in the world. Husserl theorised that moods are a way of illuminating the way in which subjects can experience the world. According to Colombetti, though, Heidegger does not address the relationship between affectivity and the body.
- Colombetti reads Heidegger’s moods in context of Patocka, who theorises that moods are altered by impressions of the world around us, dependent on how the world impresses upon our corporeal body. Colombetti concludes that moods are a kind of consequence of corporeality that are open to the world as a way of being. This is also related to the interdependencies of felt emotions and their subsequent moods.
How it will be situated:
- The project will adopt Colombetti’s approach insofar as that it will take the stance that the physicality of emotion is integral to both perception and action. This embodied enactivity is central to affective corporeal intentionality. The body is a mediator of lived experience.
- It will consider Colombetti’s discussion of mood as a product of affective emotion, and that in some cases of mood disorders an exaggerated attention to ones bodily sensations becomes alienating. This will be discussed in context of Sartre’s Embodiment and Alienation.
- It will also consider Colombetti’s reading of Lewis’ theory that triggering events can initiate, put simply, emotional episodes with physical response that are part of that felt emotion. It will consider this in relation to a corporeal influence of embodied consciousness. This will be considered in context of Husserl’s phenomenological unconscious and Merlau-Ponty’s body-memory.
- It will evaluate Colombetti’s suggestion of visual art and music as capable of evoking emotion inasmuch as they reproduce bodily movement analogous to those felt by the body when those emotions are felt in other instances. This will be considered in context of the audiovisual installation and the type of effects it produces on the participants who test it.
In summary, the points of Colombetti’s argument that are central to my study are as follows. First, it is important to consider affectivity as the corporeality of felt emotion, which results in physical bodily feelings and movements and responses. Second to this, moods are part of interdependencies of emotion. Moods illuminate the way in which a subject experiences the world. The world, in turn, influences the subject’s lived experience through the medium of the body. So, as such, affectivity cannot be separated from embodied action. This can be considered in terms of embodiment and alienation, from a phenomenological point of view. It can also be considered in relation to the way in which an audience can have an embodied experience evocative of a distorted relationship to one’s own way of being through media art, that is characteristic of an exaggerated attention of bodily sensations.
Colombetti, G. (2014) The Feeling Body: Affective Science Meets the Enactive Mind. Massachusetts: MIT Press.