In the first half of the 20th century, lively debates were going on in Europe concerning the foundations of sociality and interpersonal understanding. Participants in these debates included central figures of the phenomenological tradition, such as Edmund Husserl, Martin Heidegger, Max Scheler, and Jean-Paul Sartre, as well as lesser known figures, including Alfred Schutz, Gerda Walther, Edith Stein, and Karl Löwith, amongst many others. Contributors to these debates didn’t come only from philosophy, though. Founding figures of German sociology like Georg Simmel and Leopold von Wiese provided important inputs. Psychiatrists like Ludwig Binswanger and Medard Boss were also significantly interested in the topic of sociality, as were other thinkers whose contributions spanned the boundaries between philosophy of sociality, philosophy of religion, and philosophy of language, like Martin Buber, Franz Rosenzweig, Eugen Rosenstock-Huessy, and Ferdinand Ebner.
Thomas Szanto, Postdoctoral Research Fellow at CFS, on a Complex Affective Trias
Thanks to my generous Marie Curie project funding (SHARE), recently, I could spend three wonderful months in Europe’s probably most vibrant capital, Berlin—vibrant not only in terms of its notorious night-life, but just as much in terms of its research community.
From May to July I was a Visiting Researcher at the DFG-funded Collaborative Research Center (CRS), “Affective Societies: Dynamics of Social Coexistence in Mobile Worlds” http://www.sfb-affective-societies.de/en/index.html. The CRS is an interdisciplinary research platform, spanning 11 disciplines and involving 70 researchers, based at the Freie Universität Berlin and lead, as Co-PIs, by the philosopher Jan Slaby (http://www.janslaby.com/), who kindly invited and hosted me for the research stay, and the sociologist Christian von Scheve (http://www.polsoz.fu-berlin.de/soziologie/arbeitsbereiche/emotionen/team/Professur/scheve.html).
I immensely profited from discussions with Jan and Christian and other colleagues at FU Berlin. The forthcoming paper on “Emotional Self-Alienation”, which I was mainly working on during my stay, was much inspired by their exciting work, in particular, by Christian’s work on “feeling norms” (esp. von Scheve 2012, 2013), and Jan’s work on the exploitative and manipulative flip-side of situated and extended cognition approaches (esp. Slaby 2017).
I am writing from my home in Sheffield, nearly two weeks after returning from Copenhagen where I spent the month of September ensconced in the research community at the Center for Subjectivity Research. I spent that time quietly getting on with some work of my own, but every day discussing various philosophical issues with the Center’s members (to my great advantage). I have nothing but very warm memories of the academic environment and how kindly I was welcomed into it for a month.