Explain and evaluate Sartre's claim that emotion "is a transformation of the world... "

Essay by leyukkUniversity, Ph.D.C+, March 2004

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Sartre claims that the world around us somehow transforms when we enter into an emotional state of being. We will try to explain what the conditions are for such a transformation to take place, how exactly Sartre thinks such transformations are possible and why it is so crucial for us as conscious beings that they do. Magic in Sartre's philosophy is not meant to mean some sort of illusionary act normally performed by magicians; he is not claiming that we can physically transform the world around us. Magic is meant to be taken as a process of the consciousness that changes the way in which we perceive the world.

Sartre's central claim is that the phenomenology of our experience is the only constituent for the experience itself, and that we experience the world in a certain way, by which we are conscious of it. His theory of the intentionality states that all our conscious acts are of something; they have an aboutness which makes us understand the world.

Reality is formed from objects which have certain qualities. We can experience these qualities because consciousness forms a relationship between the physiological me (the body) and the objects (in the world). Emotions are about something which makes us apprehend the world in a certain way, but not in the way that psychologists of emotion would claim. These psychologists say that we experience emotion as a separate entity, absorbed in itself and detached from the object of that emotion. For Sartre emotions are 'united in an indissoluble synthesis' (STE p.57) with the object of that emotion. The irritation I experience when my friend is late is the disposition to enter into an irritation consciousness of my friend. My irritation becomes a central feature of my world and is intrinsically linked with...