Affect Mirrors

In: Intercultural Mirrors

Abstract

This chapter explores a process by which knowledge of one’s own emotions is facilitated through a mirroring relation: a process I call affect mirroring. I give special emphasis to affect mirrors in intercultural encounters. The first part of the chapter is a philosophical examination of the phenomenon of emotional self-knowledge, in which I describe the fundamental complicating factor in attempts to attain emotional lucidity. The second part of the chapter sets out my account of affect mirrors. They are ways in which we gain emotional self-knowledge by seeing the same emotion displayed by others. In an affect mirror, we come to understand our own emotions by seeing them mirrored by others. The final part of the chapter is an explication of this concept and what it comes to in intercultural contexts. I discuss affect mirrors in two works of cinema, contrasting the way they operate in a monocultural context (the film is Call Me by Your Name) and in an intercultural context (the film is La Promesse). I argue that the intercultural affect mirrors offer opportunities of profound moral transformation.