Monday, November 8, 2010

a preface to exploring empirical feeling



Thinking about feeling can be tenably understood as thinking about the holism of our embodied enactivity (our being, wholly comprehended), which is beyond my aim here.

Soon, I’m going to focus on some leading “positive” psychologists’ sense of “emotions,” which is much less than a rich comprehension of feeling (those psychologists might readily agree). The notion of “positive emotion” in empirical psychology is normalistically oriented (which is good for statistical methods), i.e., conventionalist and constrained, unlike a richness of feeling one may find in actual life.

Of course, empirical psychologists study what is amenable to replicative methods. It’s useful to at least understand the manifold of common sense (i.e., statistical generality, in terms that are measurable). But then they might agree that fairness to feeling eludes empirical research, leaving to arts and humanities prospects for highly understanding. So, understanding the domain of normal (empirical) psychology’s “positive emotion” can be useful for situating how feeling beyond that goes, particularly relative to values of high individuation (high valuing), creativity (high aspiration), the inquiring mind (cognitive interest), and artfulness (imaginability)—beyond parsing most-common, most-shared understandings.

One abstracts from human feeling by considering it apart from engaged and meaningful lives (which some leading “positive psychologists” emphasize, I’m glad to find). I’m especially interested in how valuing, aspiration, cognitive interest, and imaginability are integral to engaged, meaningful lives, such that understanding feeling appropriately is to understand feeling relative to engaged meaningfulness. Empirical psychologists might agree, but anyway defend the usefulness of what they can empirically research, abstracted from actual lives (i.e., intentionality, enactivity, engagement, and meaningfulness). To understand feeling in its ownmost landscape, I look to narrative reflectivity.