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Tymieniecka’s phenomenology of life: The “imaginatio creatrix,” subliminal passions, and the moral sense

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Anna-Teresa Tymieniecka expands the phenomenological study of meanings (sense-bestowal) into an onto-genetic inquiry by grounding it in a phenomenology of life, including the emotional dimension. This phenomenology of life is informed by the empirical sciences and its doctrines parallel the new scientific paradigm of open dynamic systems. Embedded in the dynamics of the real individuation of life forms, human consciousness emerges at a unique station in the evolutionary process. Tymieniecka treats the constitution of sense as a function of life, and thus the transcendental constitutive function of the cognitive, objectifying intentionality of consciousness, the purview of classical phenomenology, is viewed as a project that is limited in its scope. According to the phenomenology of life, meaning-genesis is exhibited throughout the various stages of structurization in the evolution of life. This paper highlights the transformative function of the “Imaginatio Creatrix,” which is the dynamic process at the human station of evolution that accounts for humanity’s inventive capacities necessary for the construction of a human world. The Imaginatio Creatrix transforms the more primitive stirrings of the human “soul” into subliminal passions of human existential significance. The enactive theory of the mind corroborates Tymieniecka’s rejection of Husserl’s doctrine of passive synthesis. However, Tymieniecka’s study of the creative function offers a key for further advancement in enactive theory. Three sense-bestowing functions of the Imaginatio Creatrix account for the human expansion of life: the Aesthetic/Poetic sense, the Objectifying Sense, and the Moral Sense. The Moral Sense, for Tymieniecka, is not the product of reasoning powers, but rather the fruit of subliminal passions that acquire their moral aspect through trans-actions guided by the “benevolent sentiment.”

Keywords: Consciousness; dynamical systems; emotion; enactivism.; moral sense; phenomenology; self-organization; social emotion

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: Morgan State University

Publication date: October 1, 2001


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