Volume 20, 2008
The World-experience as ‘Not-feeling-at-home’
Paolo Virno on the Emergence of Public Intellect
This paper focuses on Italian philosopher’s Paolo Virno concept of public intellect. He starts from the analysis of emotions and dispositions as they appear in Martin Heidegger’s work Being and Time, and he undertakes na criticism of Heideggerian distinction between fear and anguish/anxiety. Virno argues that, in
contemporary world, this distinction is becoming increasingly blurred, insofar as the so-called ‘substantial communities’ tend to disintegrate and human beings become more exposed to the world as such. This exposition to the world makes one feel any concrete fearful situation as rather an anxiety-ridden situation where
uncertainty and endangerment reigns to its utmost. As a rather spontaneous response to this insecurity of ‘not’feeling-at-home’, Virno sees the emergence of the so-called ‘public intellect’ which contains some elementary linguistic structures that appear as collective. Virno sees public intellect as an outcome of ‘not-feeling-at-home’ that, to some degree, forces people to become thinkers as they are made strangers to this world.