Crisis, Experience, ‘Excentricity’

Theory, Culture and Society 41 (3):55-69 (2024)
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This paper explores the relationship between crisis and experience, concentrating on ‘excentric positionality’ in relation to the shared world, as presented in the work of Helmuth Plessner. A by-product of the 1920s Weimar Germany, Plessner’s philosophical anthropology, it is argued, presents us with a forgotten blueprint for transitive and compositional approaches to the social world. Instead of the familiar ‘crisis of experience’ used to diagnose ‘what has gone wrong’, it allows us to re-learn how to work with ‘the experience of crisis’ itself. The latter holds the key to a different type of approach based on ‘xeno-communication’. This type of communication utilizes the productive potential of crisis in its uncertainty and hesitation before a decision, showing a way to extend and enlarge experience itself. Cultivation of these ‘excentric’ dynamics in turn suggests new ‘excentric methodologies’ based on a more flexible fit between concepts and the worlds they are meant to describe. ‘Excentric methodologies’ constitute a type of experience-based, analytical response to the shared world. They work with phenomena across spaces and problems, analytically utilizing their joint emergence from the fundamental imbalance and discontinuity characteristic of the human environment.



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