What Is Expressed When Emotions Are Expressed in Art? | SA Döring | Grazer Philosophische Studien

The author argues for a Collingwoodian claim: if an emotion is expressed in art, it is not a content which exists prior to, and independent of, its expression. Artistic emotion expressions rather clarify and complete emotions. The autor backs up this claim by Musil’s Lewinian theory of emotion which displays significant parallels to recent Enactivist Theories of Emotion: it states that embodiment in action (in a broad sense) is necessary in any case in order for nonspecific dispositions to emotions to shape and consolidate into specific fully fledged, genuine emotions. Two ways of shaping and consolidating are distinguished. One way is to categorise emotions in terms of their so-called “formal objects” by associating nonspecific dispositions to emotions via action with specific paradigm scenarios. Another way is to put these categories to the test by expressing exemplary individual experiences which go beyond the existing repertoire of paradigm scenarios. Art, when it expresses emotions, shapes and consolidates in the second way. Art challenges the existing system of emotion types which is at the same time to challenge the corresponding system of evaluations and values. The presented argument draws upon the notions of expressing developed by Dorit Bar-On and Philipp J. Koch.

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