Some thoughts on a conversation about emotions in a time of uncertainty

Last Wednesday Simon Critchley (the well known British philosopher) was invited by Onassis Cultural Centre (http://www.sgt.gr/en/programme/event/1000) to have a conversation with Kostas Yemenetzis (a Greek psychoanalyst) about emotions in a time of uncertainty. Uncertainty is a mild way to express what currently takes place here in Greece, let me assure you. Anyway, it was a nice conversation between them, which of course I’m in no place to reproduce, but I thought I could share the two or three things that made an impression upon me.

One of them was something Simon Critchley said about emotions in general, how an emotion is not something you feel inside you, it’s not a separate entity or something but rather something that’s out there, something taking place in-between you and the other person. It’s something that is co-created. This is very interesting for me, I guess I have never thought it that way. Of course I always considered emotions as something dynamic, which has a lot to do with the other person, but there are some emotions that have nothing to do with other people. Or maybe... not?

He also said that language comes before emotions and not the other way around. Ok, this one I can’t exactly remember if he was sure about or just wondering which comes first, the language or the feeling. At first I thought that’s just not possible, I always have a feeling and then I get to express it. And it was at that exact moment where it became obvious to me that I can never express a feeling that stays there unchangeable and static. It always changes forms while interacting with the other and of course who that other one is, plays a very big role into what the feeling will be later and what I’m going to say later etc. I guess this is very close to what they both talked about when they said that the word emotion has in it this very motion, it’s not static at all. I wonder if this could be the distinction between feelings and emotions or what is the general difference between them for that matter.

I’m going to end with what Yemenetzis said at the beginning, that uncertainty is what brings emotions, you don’t get many emotions while being absolutely certain. I guess he’s right, this is somehow what a lot of people say when they’re bored, that everything is somewhat flat, they want something to happen, they want a change. While I totally relate to that I cannot not wonder how can we ever be certain? Life is an act of uncertainty as I see it. You can be more confident for some things than for some others, sure, but certain? What is ever certain? I mean, except death. And on that happy note I’m leaving you, I know you didn’t quite expect it but I’d like to create that feeling of uncertainty I was talking about :p. Let me know what you think!

A book I'd like to read as soon as possible!