Anthropology of Connection
Examining perception in the discourses of 1900, this study aims to uncover some of the less apparent emotional undercurrents of scientific theories of understanding. “Connections” may be either theories of society and social action, (ambivalent ties as described by Simmel and Plessner, repressive ones, as we see in Freud), or they may be a manner of narrating the self and its links, emotional and intellectual, to the world. They can be energetic in the sense of Schopenhauer’s will, motivational in the sense of Nietzsche’s will-to-power, empathic in the sense of early phenomenology, or object-driven and therefore ethical, in the sense of Husserl. They can be suggestive – adapting the Heraclitean notion of flow, as we can see at different points in writers as diverse as Husserl, William James and Henri Bergson, or declarative, in the sense of Arnold Gehlen, for whom connections are institutional – human beings, with a reduced instinct in comparison to other creatures, forge links to the world by means of the culture they produce. Connections can be many things at once – physiological effects of perception – or psychological responses to perception. In this study, they are seen as implicit, but nonetheless important discursive forces. In looking at perception at a time when it was under re-definition as the humanities faced dominance of the natural sciences in the 19th century, this study is concerned with a figure that is always emotionally invested. Ist hypothesis is that the sometimes hidden ‘investment’ plays an ontological role that we cannot see if we hold that words and ideas simply emerge in a historical continuity. The opposite is the case: historical patterns are best understood in relation to ideas with an emotional undercurrent, not without this, or despite it. This book sets out to show this in relation to the anthropology of connection and vis-à-vis theories of perception from approximately 1880-1930.