Phenomenology and the Cognitive Sciences

, Volume 10, Issue 2, pp 241-259

First online:

Open Access This content is freely available online to anyone, anywhere at any time.

Emotions outside the box—the new phenomenology of feeling and corporeality

  • Hermann SchmitzAffiliated withEmeritus Professor of Philosophy
  • , Rudolf Owen MüllanAffiliated withInstitute of Cognitive Science, University of Osnabrück
  • , Jan SlabyAffiliated withCluster of Excellence “Languages of Emotion”, Free University Berlin Email author 


The following text is the first ever translation into English of a writing by German phenomenologist Hermann Schmitz (*1928). In it, Schmitz outlines and defends a non-mentalistic view of emotions as phenomena in interpersonal space in conjunction with a theory of the felt body’s constitutive involvement in human experience. In the first part of the text, Schmitz gives an overview covering some central pieces of his theory as developed, for the most part, in his massive System of Philosophy, published in German in a series of volumes between 1964 and 1980. Schmitz’s System is centred on the claim that the contemporary view of the human subject is the result of a consequential historical process: A reductionist and ‘introjectionist’ objectification of lived experience culminating in the ‘invention’ of the mind (or ‘soul’) as a private, inner realm of subjective experience and in a corresponding ‘grinding down’ of the world of lived experienced to a meagre, value-neutral ‘objective reality’. To counter this intellectualist trend, Schmitz puts to use his approach to phenomenology with the aim of regaining a sensibility for the nuanced realities of lived experience—hoping to make up for what was lost during the development of Western intellectual culture. Since both this text and the overall style of Schmitz’s philosophising are in several ways unusual for a contemporary readership, a brief introduction is provided by philosophers Jan Slaby and Rudolf Owen Müllan, the latter of whom translated Schmitz’s text into English. The introduction emphasises aspects of Schmitz’s philosophy that are likely to be of relevance to contemporary scholars of phenomenological philosophy and to its potential applications in science and society.


Emotion Felt body Atmosphere Subjectivity Embodiment