Phenomenology and the Cognitive Sciences

, Volume 3, Issue 2, pp 215–228 | Cite as

Affectivity and movement: The sense of sensing in Erwin Straus

  • Renaud Barbaras


This paper explores the notion of sensing (Empfinden) as developed by Erwin Straus. It argues that the notion of sensing is at the center of Strauss's thought about animal and human experience. Straus's originality consists in approaching sensory experience from an existential point of view. Sensing is not a mode of knowing. Sensing is distinguished from perceiving but is still a mode of relation to exteriority, and is situated on the side of what is usually called affectivity. At the same time Strauss redefines the field of that which is commonly characterized as affectivity. Sensing designates a stratum that lies deeper than the division between perceiving and feeling (s'éprouver), a self-affection that is not an alternative to the opening upon exteriority. It corresponds to a mode of immediate communication, to a sympathy with the world that does not entail any thematic dimension, but does not fall back into a blind fusion. Rather, sensing is something in the living being's mode of moving that is irreducible, and that includes a tending toward something.

affectivity living being movement sensing sentiment sensation world 


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  1. Maldiney, H. 1973. Le dévoilement de la dimension esthétique dans la phénoménologie de Erwin Straus, in: Regard Parole Espace, Lausanne: L'Age d'Homme, 1973. Germ. trans. Die Entdeckung der ästhetischen Dimension in der Phänomenologie von Erwin Straus. trans. Horst Künkler. In: Walter von Baeyer and Richard M. Griffith (eds), Conditio Humana: Erwin W. Straus on his 75th Birthday, Berlin: Springer, 1966.Google Scholar
  2. Straus, E. 1930. Die Formen des Räumlichen, in: Der Nervenarzt 3:11, pp. 633–656; Engl. Trans., The Forms of Spatiality, in: Phenomenological Psychology: The Selected Papers of Erwin W. Straus, trans., in part, Erling Eng, pp. 3–37. New York: Basic Books. 1966.Google Scholar
  3. Straus, E. 1935. Vo m Sinn der Sinne, 2nd rev. and enl. ed., Julius Springer, Berlin; engl. trans., The Primary World of Senses: A Vindication of Sensory Experience, trans. Jacob Needleman, New York: Free Press, 1963.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 2004

Authors and Affiliations

  • Renaud Barbaras
    • 1
  1. 1.L'université Blaise Pascal deClermont-Ferrand

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