Publication details for Prof Matthew RatcliffeRatcliffe, M. (2009). Existential Feeling and Psychopathology (with commentaries by Charles Guignon and Andrew Warsop, followed by my response 'Belonging to the World through the Feeling Body'). Philosophy, Psychiatry & Psychology 16(2): 179-211.
- Publication type: Journal papers: academic
Author(s) from Durham
Bodily feelings are often construed as reports of internal bodily states. However, references to such feelings, both in everyday life and in the context of psychiatry, suggest that they also make a significant contribution to how things other than the body are experienced. This paper focuses on a class of feelings that I call ‘existential feelings’. They have neither the body nor an object or state of affairs outside of the body as their sole object. Rather, they are structures of relatedness between self and world, which comprise a changeable sense of ‘reality’, ‘situatedness’, ‘locatedness’, ‘connectedness’, ‘significance’ and so forth. I suggest that reflection upon the phenomenology of touch can serve to illuminate how something can be both a bodily feeling and a way of experiencing the world. In so doing, I criticise the sharp body-world distinction that permeates discussion of feeling. I appeal to descriptions of various pathological and non-pathological experiences to suggest that we should be wary of double-counting when it comes to feelings of the body and experiences of things outside of the body. In the case of existential feelings at least, the two are not distinct from each other but inextricable aspects of the same unitary experiential structure. Some ‘bodily feelings’ just are, I claim, ‘ways in which the world appears’.