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NUM-INOUS COMICS PT. 2

This essay is a very belated response to a " part 1 " published in February 2015. The gist of that essay was a response to a corre...

Saturday, June 1, 2013

AFFECTIVE EFFECTS




Thomas Aquinas calls that which is in the soul "res" (quod est in anima), as also that which is outside the soul (quod est extra animam). This noteworthy juxtaposition stilt enables us to discern the primitive objectivity of the idea in the thought of that time. From this mental attitude the psychology of the ontological proof becomes easily intelligible.-- Jung, PSYCHOLOGICAL TYPES, p. 42.

Jung doesn't spend much time on Aquinas in this section of this book, which for me is just as well, since I've nearly no familiarity with the father of Thomism.  I speculate that Jung simply mentions this interesting formula because his concern in PSYCHOLOGICAL TYPES is with finding a "middle ground" between the extremes of what he terms "nominalism" and "realism," which he uses as exemplars of his concepts of the "extravert" and the "introvert" respectively.

Jung's summation of Aquinas' position, to whatever extent it is accurate, bears some interesting comparisons with Ernst Cassirer's position, quoted here:

"Whatever we call existence or reality, is given to us at the outset in forms of pure expression. Thus even here we are beyond the abstraction of sheer sensation, which dogmatic sensationalism takes as its starting point. For the content which the subject experiences as confronting him is no merely outward one, resembling Spinoza's 'mute picture on a slate.' It has a kind of transparency; an inner life shines through its very existence and facticity. The formation effected in language, art and myth starts from this original phenomenon of expression; indeed, both art and myth remain so close to it that one might be tempted to restrict them wholly to this sphere."-- Cassirer, THE PHENOMENOLOGY OF KNOWLEDGE, p. 449.


What I find in both of these quotes is the same thing that attracts me about the concept of phenomenology proper, defined thusly by the online Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy:

Literally, phenomenology is the study of “phenomena”: appearances of things, or things as they appear in our experience, or the ways we experience things, thus the meanings things have in our experience.
As noted in this essay Cassirer confessed some influence from Husserl's phenomenology. and I've already noted in this review how Jung called himself a "phenomenologist," whatever his influences may have been.  However different the projects of Husserl, Heidegger and other phenomenological scholars, Jung and Cassirer have in common the desire to examine the "forms of pure expression," and to reify them as being no less "real phenomena" than the objects of physical nature.  Za Hranice in the linked essay above notes that for all the differences between Cassirer and Husserl, the two are linked by their rejection of knowing phenomena only through positivistic (or what Cassirer calls "theoretical") sources of knowledge:

Therefore Cassirer’s

phenomenology is, like Husserl’s, no historiography or factual investigation of reality, as

it might seem at first glance. Husserl’s and Cassirer’s philosophy are doing transcendental

philosophy in their own respective ways, taking distance from Kant, however. Thereby,

unlike Kant, they try to cope with all possible subject-matters of investigation, namely

‘phenomena,’ and pivotally ground them in a modulated transcendental-philosophical

way.

I myself have no doubt been influenced by simple "theoretical" models of cognition,
by Kant's "reproductive imagination," which reduces any imaginative construct to "random associations, or to cognitively-reasoned associations (i.e., allegory), or any combinations thereof."  I've recently looked back at my original statements of the NUM formula.  I don't think any of them are fundamentally mistaken regarding the sussing out of phenomenal natures in art and literature, but I don't think that I was aggressive enough in defining the distinction between what I termed "the cognitive" and "the affective," as in this passage.

If the anomaly takes place within a world where the cognitive order rules, and where affectivity is indeed the tail wagged by the dog, then the narrative’s phenomenality is “atypical.”


If it takes place within a world that breaks with the cognitive order, in which causs-and-effect is in some way suspended, then the phenomality is “marvelous,” and the affectivity produced is one that also strives to go beyond the cognitive order.


If the work seems to suggest that the cognitive order is violated, when in fact it is not, its phenomenality will be “uncanny” as long as the work succeeds in evoking an affectivity that symbolically exceeds the cognitive order.
Though I find the logic of these statements solid, I can find some fault with my tendency just to use the psychological terms "cognitive" and "affective" without bringing them as it were, into my phenomenological system.  For instance, this joint usage of the two familiar terms places an emphasis on defining "the affective" as something confined to the individual subject, and thus in a larger sense epiphenomenal:
Cognitive-affective theorists argue that behavior is not the result of some global personality trait; instead, it arises from individual's perceptions of herself in a particular situation.
Patently this is an empirical-theoretical formulation, so I need to put some distance between my phenomenology and this empirical reading of affectivity. 

More in Part 2.

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