Although cultures far away and with other languages and customs are felt to be exotic by many in one s own culture, all cultures recognize the importance of a consistent bodily praxis as a basis for ethical behavior. I show that thinkers as diverse as Aristotle, Dewey, James, Peirce, Husserl, and Merleau-Ponty all acknowledge this habitual-bodily basis as well as its deeply social character. So does Confucius, even if he emphasizes ceremonial aspects more than Aristotle, the American pragmatists, and phenomenologists. Linking these thinkers is a common emphasis on the performative dimension of reliably repetitive bodily actions that engender effective social actions and interactions.
“Borders” are impermeable limits designed to stop the flow of human beings as well as ideas across them, whereas “boundaries” are permeable enclosure that permit and often encourage movement through limits. I develop the differences between these two forms of edge with a series of historical and geographical examples. I conclude that the Journal of Chinese Philosophy is a sterling instance of a boundary whose entire being has consisted in facilitating the two-way flow of concepts and traditions across formerly closed borders of communication and culture. I offer homage to this extraordinary accomplishment over the past forty years.
It is a modernist article of faith that emotion belongs to the human subject—that it is possessed by this subject from within. We find this view espoused by thinkers as various as Descartes, Hume, and Kant. It is also found in the conventional belief that emotions have their seat “in the heart.” In this essay I explore an alternative paradigm whereby emotion exists as much, if not more, at the outer edges of the subject: in expressive gestures and other forms of what I call “exophany,” i.e., the showing-forth of emotion from without. Instead of concerning ourselves with the endogeny of emotions—its internal generation in the body, brain, or soul—I look at the peripherality of emotions. Examining concrete examples, I demonstrate that emotions are transmissible thanks to their capacity for being located at the edges of our lives.
Urgent times such as ours call for a reexamination of human emotional life, a life we tend to take for granted in calmer times. Philosophy, and phenomenology in particular, should have something to say about our emotional bearings or their lack in this dürftiger Zeit, a time of collective crisis and personal desperation. My hope is that a careful assessment of emotion will be of value to those of us living through what Hannah Arendt called “dark times.” As a phenomenologist, my aim is a mainly descriptive one that seeks to arrive at a more precise sense of the emergence of emotion, not as construed causally but as felt experientially. Accordingly, I shall pursue the paths traced by certain manifestations of emotion: paths that have been largely neglected in recent treatments. Being on this road (and there is no other) amounts to living with the consequences of the manifestation of emotions, what I have come to call them periphaneity.