Continental Philosophy Review

, Volume 41, Issue 2, pp 127–142 | Cite as

The role of the lived-body in feeling

  • Bernhard Waldenfels


Feelings not only have a place, they also have a time. Today, one can speak of a multifaceted renaissance of feelings. This concerns philosophy itself, particularly, ethics. Every law-based morality comes up against its limits when morals cease to be only a question of legitimation and begin to be a question of motivation, since motives get no foothold without the feeling of self and feeling of the alien. As it is treated by various social theories and psychoanalysis, the self is not formed through the mere acquisition or change of roles, but rather through a process that is susceptible to crises, a process shaped by affective bonds and separations. Learning, which is the theme of pedagogy, loses its hold whenever it is confronted by disinterest and listlessness. In neurobiology, the increased significance of those zones of the brain that are connected with the realization of feelings makes the brain, accordingly, no mere apparatus that processes data, but a living organ that selects and “evaluates” what is “important.” Finally, cross-cultural comparison shows the extent to which the one-sided preference for understanding and willing, which is the mark of Western rationalism, arises from a typical, not to mention a highly masculine attitude toward the world and life, as many different studies on gender difference stress (In reference to this perspective, see Seethaler, Gefühle und Urteilskraft. Ein Plädoyer für die emotionale Vernunft, 1997). The following reflections provide a historical orientation directed toward a new determination of feelings. This new determination of feelings is phenomenological and takes the pathetic character of experience, nourished by the corporeality of experience as its point of departure.


Feeling Affectivity Pathos Lived-body Phenomenology 


Translator’s Acknowledgements

I wish to express my deepest gratitude to Dr. Anthony Steinbock for all of his help in revising this translation. I would also like to thank Dr. Douglas Berger for his comments on an earlier draft of this translation.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • Bernhard Waldenfels
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PhilosophyUniversity of BochumBochumGermany

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