Neutral phantasies and possible emotions
A phenomenological perspective on aesthetic education
Keywords:Edmund Husserl, phenomenology, phantasy, emotion, aesthetic education
In this paper I draw from Husserl’s lectures on ethics and manuscripts on phantasy to clarify the role and the structure of aesthetic education within a phenomenological theory of value experience. First, I show that Husserl’s take on emotions as material contents of value experiences involves the problem of justifying the validity of the relation between factual emotional states and ideal values. I then suggest, on the basis of some of Husserl’s phenomenological arguments on phantasy, that this discrepancy can be bridged through the enjoyment of art – that is, through a process of aesthetic education. I will focus, as Husserl does, on theatrical art as a case study. My aim is to support the claim that artistic phantasy offers us the possibility of an education of emotions by helping us to progressively explore the eidetic structure of emotional states in their individuality, but regardless of their isolated here and now (that is, of their factual occasionality). The first part of the argument refers mainly to the last chapters of Husserl’s Einleitung in die Ethik (1920/1924). The second part focuses on a 1918 manuscript. I conclude by hinting at how the idea of a phenomenological aesthetic education could help providing a coherent interpretation of Husserl’s ethics, while also contributing to the ongoing debate about fictional objects.
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