Relational Affect. Perspectives from Philosophy and Cultural Studies
Slaby, Jan – 2019
Philosophers of emotion tend to understand affective phenomena as individual mental states with intentional content. In this essay, I will contrast this with materials for an account of affectivity that construes affect as relational dynamics between individuals within social domains. ‘Relational affect’ does not refer to individual feeling states but to affective interactions in relational scenes, either between two or more interactants or between an agent and aspects of her environment. In developing this proposal, I draw on work in cultural affect studies and bring it in conversation with approaches to emotional intentionality in philosophy. In particular, I attempt to transpose parts of the normative-pragmatic approach to emotional intentionality developed by Bennett Helm into a transpersonal relational framework. I argue that this reorientation can help make visible micro-dynamics of affect in social settings that often have problematic political implications.