Volume 27, Issue 2, Autumn 2022
Selected Phenomenological Studies
Emotional Affectivity and the Question of Appraisal, Viewed in the Light of a Phenomenological Account of Pre-Reflective Affective Consciousness
The paper considers the problem of various different forms of pre-cognitive affective appraisal and their role in the process of gaining self-knowledge. According to the phenomenological approach, if we are to understand our inner states (our emotional experiences), these cannot be extracted from the context within which they arise. Emotions not only refer to the inner states of the subject, but also to the outer world to which they are a form of response. Brentano, Husserl and Scheler claimed that emotions are directed towards values. It is to this essential feature of emotional experience that I would like to turn. I shall therefore re-examine Sartre’s views concerning affectivity (i.e. the capacity to reveal evaluatively significant qualities of one’s environment), as well as the dual-aspect theory of (reflective and non-reflective) consciousness. The main argument of this paper is that a plausible account of the essential role of affectivity in the emotions may be provided on the basis of a phenomenological theory of pre-reflective consciousness and its relation to reflexivity. I will focus on three different claims about pre-reflective (affective) consciousness. According to the first of these, a large part of cognition is of a prelinguistic (pre-reflective) nature; I argue that the evaluative content of emotion is not only conceptually determined, but may also take a non-conceptual form (as affective appraisal). The second claim refers to the notion of affect, which ought to be distinguished from (unintentional) bodily sensations. The third conceives of the relation between pre-reflective (affective) consciousness and reflective consciousness (propositional attitudes) as normative (rather than causal). I aim to demonstrate that a plausible view of emotional affectivity must appeal to a phenomenological account of the pre-reflective aspect of consciousness.