Pathicity: Experiencing the World in an Atmospheric Way

Tonino Griffero 1
  • 1 University of Rome “Tor Vergata”, , Rome, Italy


Is there really an atmospheric turn? The concept of “atmosphere” as a qualitative-emotional prius of sensory experience seems today to have encouraged the convergence of many interdisciplinary studies focused on the qualitative aspects of our “surroundings”. Based on the neo-phenomenological theory of atmospheric perception as a first pathivc impression and a felt-bodily communication, this paper explores and synthesises the relationship between atmospheres and expressive qualities. It thus clarifies the key features of a general “pathic” aesthetics. It considers perceivers as beings who are touched by atmospheric feelings in emotional and tactile ways. These are widespread and vary in their modulation of lived space. They are also ontologically rooted in things and quasi-things of the lifeworld. By realising how they (especially in an unintentional way) expose themselves to what happens, perceivers turn out not to be “subjects of something” but rather “subjects to something”: that is, human beings who are only “sovereign” when they are free, at least in their daily experience, from the dogma of rational and methodological autonomy imposed by Western Modernity.

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