Are Emotions “Recollected in Tranquility”? Phenomenological Reflections on Emotions, Memory, and the Temporal Dynamics of Experience

  • Michela SummaEmail author
Part of the Phaenomenologica book series (PHAE, volume 216)


This chapter discusses the relationship between memory and emotions from a phenomenological perspective. Starting with some remarks on Wordsworth’s conception of poetry as “emotion recollected in tranquility”, the investigation focuses on the three following issues: (1) the overwhelming character of emotional memories; (2) the relationship between the past and the present emotion, and (3) the meaning of “tranquility” in emotional recollection. In order to discuss these issues, an analysis of the intentional structure of affective and emotional experiences is first developed. Thereby, it is shown how the self- and world-relatedness of emotional experience fundamentally structures our implicit and explicit awareness of past emotions. Subsequently, the analysis of the relation between emotions and the temporal structure of experience shall allow us to recognize in the irreversible nature of the temporal stream of consciousness the ultimate ground to understand the relationship between emotions and memory. Finally, discussing how irreversibility eminently comes to the fore in the experience of nostalgia, it is argued that the “tranquility” of emotional memories has a nostalgic note. Such nostalgic note conveys the awareness of one’s own being in a constant process of irreversible temporal becoming.


Emotional Response Emotional Experience Temporal Stream Emotional Memory Bodily Feeling 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



I am grateful to prof. Ullrich Melle, for the kind permission to quote from Husserl’s unpublished manuscripts. I also wish to thank the participants to the Husserls Arbeitstage 2012, as well as Andrea Altobrando and Monika Dullstein, for their comments on an earlier version of this paper.


  1. Aristotle. 1930. On memory and reminiscence, vol. 3, The works of Aristotle, ed. William David Ross. Oxford: Clarendon Press.Google Scholar
  2. Beike, D.R., E. Kleinknecht, and E.T. Wirth-Beaumont. 2004. How emotional and nonemotional memories define the self. In The self and memory, ed. D.R. Beike, J.M. Lampine, and D.A. Behrend, 141–159. New York: Taylor & Francis.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Bernet, R. 2006. Heimweh und Nostalgie. In Utopie Heimat. Psychiatrische und kulturphilosophische Zugänge, ed. M. Heinze, D. Quadflied, and M. Bühring, 87–102. Berlin: Parodos.Google Scholar
  4. Casey, E. 1987. The world of nostalgia. Man and World 20: 361–384.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. De Man, P. 1987. Time and history in Wordsworth. Diacritics 17(4): 4–17.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Drummond, J.J. 2004. Cognitive impenetrability and the complex intentionality of the emotions. Journal of Consciousness Studies 11(10–11): 109–126.Google Scholar
  7. Goldie, P. 2000. The emotions. A philosophical exploration. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  8. Goldie, P. 2002. Emotions, feelings, and intentionality. Phenomenology and the Cognitive Sciences 1: 235–254.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Husserl, E. 1966. Zur Phänomenologie des inneren Zeitbewusstseins (1893–1917), Husserliana, vol. X, ed. Rudolf Boehm. Den Haag: M. Nijhoff.Google Scholar
  10. Husserl, E. 1976. Ideen zu einer reinen Phänomenologie und phänomenologischen Philosophie. Allgemeine Einführung in die reine Phänomenologie, Husserliana vol. III/1, ed. Karl Schuhmann. Den Haag: M. Nijhoff.Google Scholar
  11. Husserl. E. 1980. Phantasie, Bildbewusstsein, Erinnerung. Zur Phänomenologie der anschaulichen Vergegenwärtigungen. Texte aus dem Nachlass (1898–1925), Husserliana, vol. XXIII, ed. Eduard Marbach. Den Haag/Boston/London: M. Nijhoff.Google Scholar
  12. Husserl, E. 1984. Logische Untersuchungen. Untersuchungen zur Phänomenologie und Theorie der Erkenntnis, Husserliana, vol. XIX/1, ed. Ursula Panzer. Den Haag: M. Nijhoff.Google Scholar
  13. Husserl, E. 2001. Die Bernauer Manuskripte über das Zeitbewusstsein (1917–18), Husserliana vol. XXXIII, ed. Rudolf Bernet and Dieter Lohmar. Dordrecht: Kluwer Academic Publishers.Google Scholar
  14. James, W. 2007. The principles of psychology, vol. II. New York: Cosimo.Google Scholar
  15. Jankélévitch, V. 1974. L’irréversible et la nostalgie. Paris: Flammarion.Google Scholar
  16. Melle, U. 2012. Husserls deskriptive Erforschung der Gefühlserlebnisse. In Subjectivity, life, art. Essays in honor of Rudolf Bernet, ed. R. Breeur and U. Melle. Dordrecht: Springer.Google Scholar
  17. Paci, E. 1954. Tempo e relazione. Torino: Taylor.Google Scholar
  18. Ratcliffe, M. 2008. Feelings of being. Phenomenology, psychiatry and the sense of reality. Oxford: Oxford University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Richir, M. 2006. Fragments phénoménologiques sur le temps et l’espace. Paris: Million.Google Scholar
  20. Sartre, J.-P. 1995. Esquisse d’une théorie des émotions. Paris: Hermann.Google Scholar
  21. Slaby, J. 2008. Gefühl und Weltbezug. Die menschliche Affektivität im Kontext einer neo-existentialistischen Konzeption von Personalität. Paderborn: Mentis.Google Scholar
  22. Slaby, J., and A. Stephan. 2008. Affective intentionality and self-consciousness. Consciousness and Cognition 17: 506–513.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Summa, M. 2013. Process and relation. Husserl theory of individuation revisited. The New Yearbook for Phenomenology and Phenomenological Philosophy 12: 109–135.Google Scholar
  24. Waldenfels, B. 2002. Bruchlinien der Erfahrung. Frankfurt a.M: Suhrkamp.Google Scholar
  25. Wordsworth, W. 1800. Lyrical ballads with other poems. London: LongmanGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Phaänomenologische Psychopathologie und PsychotherapieUniversitätsklinikum Heidelberg, Klinik für allgemeine PsychiatrieHeidelbergGermany

Personalised recommendations