Friday, March 9, 2007

Anhedonia & consummatory experience

I commented in public on two philosophy papers this morning, one concerned with John Dewey's notion of "consummatory experience" and the other with the phenomenon of "anhedonia" -- the loss of zest, spring, joy, delight -- and what French philosopher Gabriel Marcel might have to teach William James about it. I was concerned to make just a couple of points:

1. Consummatory experiences are better had & enjoyed than talked about & analyzed.

2. The more consummatory experiences you have, the less likely you are to experience anhedonia.

I made those points, but not (of course) so concisely. This being an academic philosophy conference, and philosophy being a discipline that trades chiefly in words, I was expected to talk at much greater length about those two points and others besides. I did not disappoint.

But I hope my confreres will do what I did yesterday: go outside, breath the fresh air, take in some new sights, walk around... even if you don't have a consummatory moment, you'll still feel better and will be far less vulnerable to the dreaded anhedonia (which, btw, our French speaker pronounced not as rhyming with "Caledonia" but instead with the greater stress on the penultimate syllable -- so I learned at least one thing this morning).

I also related my experiences of the past week, which to my mind show that it is indeed possible to chase down your consummations (or at least become open to them) if you want to.

Next stop: the mountainous environs of Asheville, NC. Then, to invoke the inevitable baseball metaphor, I'll round 3d and head for home.

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