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Elements for a Phenomenological Interpretation of Weightiness

Declerck Gunnar
Language of the article : French
DOI: 10.3406/intel.2010.1191
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The aim of this text is to set up a certain number of elements which may serve as the foundation for a phenomenological interpretation of weightiness; in other words, a characterisation of the phenomena of gravity and weight as they appear and are meaningful for an individual in his daily, “pre-reflexive” relation with the world. Although the thoughts presented here are primarily philosophical in nature, we invoke a set of observations which derive from empirical science, in particular psychology, in order to support the chain of reasoning. We will first show, on the basis of a number of results from experimental psychology, that the “weight” of an object that is being manipulated is spontaneously evaluated/perceived by the individual on the basis of the effort that is required to lift it; and that the amplitude of the effort that must be furnished in order to produce a given level of force is itself proportional to the maximal force that the individual is capable of producing. This leads us to propose an initial phenomenological characterisation of weightiness. We then seek to identify the structures which, on the part of the perceiving subject, make it possible for something like “weight” to become manifest. Two main ideas become patent. On one hand, “weight” can be understood as one of the ways by which an individual can make his world intelligible, by referring the object he is manipulating to the latitude of his capacity to act, in other words to the purchase he has on the object. On the other hand, since a weight is not something that one can see but something one has to bear, something which can only be perceived by taking charge of it, only a perceiver who is able to relate to himself as to a finite power, a being who is perpetually exhausted, will have the requisite conformation for encountering something like “weight” – in order to open up a world where weightiness reigns.

Pour citer cet article :

Declerck Gunnar (2010/1-2). Elements for a Phenomenological Interpretation of Weightiness. In Steiner Pierre & Stewart John (Eds), Philosophy, Technology and Cognition, Intellectica, 53-54, (pp.401-432), DOI: 10.3406/intel.2010.1191.