Faith, Politics, and Transitions in Brussels

Back from Lithuania!

I recently attended a philosophy conference in Lithuania, as a former post details. It was a great trip, and since it I have been thinking about the topic and papers I heard. While I presented on pain, I heard papers about other emotional states and about the importance of our emotions to how we see and understand the world. There is a lot of psychological research currently ongoing about this, so it was good to approach it philosophically and critically assess some of that research and present new phenomenological insights.

As my wife would readily tell you, I am not the most emotional sensitive or intelligent person. Sometimes, I even find it hard to express my own emotions — times at which others might easily laugh or cry. This has been something I have been working on since 2010, but I still have a long ways to go. So, it was particularly interesting for me to hear papers about the primacy of emotional disposition to the world. That whatever activity we are doing, there is an emotional coloring to it — always. Even abstract or theoretical reasoning will have an emotional charge, which does not make it more true or more false. It is just our comportment to the world.

I thought about this as I walked  around Kaunas, the “second city” of Lithuania and former capital. The weather was perfectly autumnal (if a bit warm), with clear blue skies and all the trees shamelessly displaying their colors. The world had, and has, a glow. It can be arresting for us moderns, but if we watch carefully, listen closely, and feel magically (no joke – Sartre connects the emotions to magic, as does the English philosopher Collingwood), then we will find enchantment everywhere.

I’m resolving to try to live more deeply, that is, more affectively. To tune into the inner, emotional life that is present in all my experiences. To be more introspective, feeling more. Perhaps the world too will grow more affective, more enchanted or more charming. In some ways, it will probably become more sinister, but in every folktale, there is the adventure to go on and the villain to defeat. I just hadn’t realized that we all have always been on one.