Emotions and the Self's Past and Future

Wednesday, July 16, 2014: 3:30 PM
Room: F206
Oral Presentation
Helena FLAM , Sociology, University of Leipzig, Leipzig, Germany
A Canadian philosopher, Charles Taylor, spoke of emotions, such as love and loyalty, as revealing to oneself and others what one strongly cares about. He argued that they play a role of a moral compass and in this capacity are constitutive of one's identity and morality. Many of his examples make it difficult to distinguish them from particularly strongly felt preferences.  A British sociologist, Margaret Archer, proposed that in our inner conversations about our future commitments our memory of our past experiences and of the emotions that accompanied them contribute to the very process of decision-making about the future. Also in this case emotions seem to help in the process of teasing out one's preferences and, once these are chosen, of buttressing them.  Discussing one form of reflexivity, however, Margaret Archer puts her finger on how the propensity to value strong emotional attachments can standardize personal reponses to a great variety of situations, often with disastrous effects to the self. In my talk in contrast I want to show that specific emotions or, better yet, personal emotional geographies, are constitutive of unique individual identities in a sense of fixing or freezing the way an individual relates to her or his self, others and to the past, present and/or future.