How to Understand Feelings of Vitality: An Approach to Their Nature, Varieties, and Functions

In Susi Ferrarello (ed.), Phenomenology of Bioethics: Technoethics and Lived Experience. Springer. pp. 115-130 (2021)
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A very basic form of experience consists in feeling energetic, vital, alive, tired, dispirited, vigorous and so on. These feelings – which I call feelings of vitality or vital feelings – constitute the main concern of this paper. My aim is to argue that these feelings exhibit a distinctive form of affectivity which cannot be explained in terms of emotions, moods, background feelings or existential feelings and to explore different paths for their conceptualization. The paper proceeds as follows. After introducing the topic (sect. 1), I show that these feelings cannot be subsumed under any of the current categories of the affective mind (sect. 2). Against this backdrop, I present and critically assess Scheler’s notion of vital feelings as an alternative model for capturing their distinctive nature (sect. 3). Next, I explore varieties of vital feelings by focusing on different levels of the bodily-felt experience (sect. 4) and analyze their specific form of self-involvement (sect. 5). Finally, I conclude by showing how the study of vital feelings might contribute to phenomenological bioethics (sect. 6).



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Íngrid Vendrell-Ferran
University of Marburg

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