Michela Summa / Experiencing fictions


Some three months have passed since I left beautiful Copenhagen and the lively research atmosphere at the Center for Subjectivity Research. In the meanwhile a couple of newsletters indirectly reminded me of my promise and my wish to write a short contribution for the blog. Today might finally be the right day, not only because I have some more time between one seminar and the next, but also because, after some reworking, I have finally labeled the paper I wrote during my stay at the Center as ‘final version’. While revising it, I became more and more aware of how much I profited from the discussions and exchanges I had with colleagues at the Center.

My main question in this paper (entitled Experiencing Reality and Fiction: Discontinuity and Permeability) concerns our participation in the experience of fiction. I understand ‘fiction’ here in a rather large sense, including playing a game of make-believe, being the spectator of a theatre pièce, reading a novel, etc. As I hope to make clear in the paper, what all these experiences have in common is that they are grounded in a specific kind of imaginative experience, which Husserl called ‘perceptual’ or ‘bound’ phantasy.

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Maria Chiara Bruttomesso / The Body Schema in the Phenomenology of Max Scheler

photo-02-12-2016In his effort to keep a “Diary of a Body”, Daniel Pennac defined this peculiar description as «(…) not a treatise on physiology, but my secret garden, which is in many ways our most shared territory» (Pennac 2012, 13). A shared territory continuously exposed to the gaze of others, and at the same time a performative dimension that allows us to pay attention to the world, while becoming almost transparent in experience. How do I move in the environment without explicit attention to my movements? How do I get to catch the joy in your smile? And how is it possible for us even to interact prior to any linguistic communication? Thanks to a pre-reflective embodied dimension, our experience tells us that “mind-reading” is in most cases not needed. However, if our body is the very source of empathic grasping of basic emotions and intentions through expressions and movements, we need first of all to investigate the terms of embodiment. In order to ground my PhD thesis about empathy on a solid basis, I decided to focus on the phenomenological concept of Leib and on the debate concerning the body schema and body image. The Center for Subjectivity Research has been the perfect place to learn more about the topic and to discuss it in an international and open-minded environment.

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