Shared Emotions – A Schelerian Approach

Alessandro Salice


What does it mean to share or to co-experience an emotion? What makes statements of the form “we feel emotion x together” true?  This paper develops a systematic interpretation of Max Scheler’s theory of co-experiencing (Miteinandererleben), which aims at squaring two contrasting intuitions. According to the first intuition, when several individuals share an emotion, it is one emotion – one experience – that is shared. The second intuition suggests that co-experiencing an emotion preserves self-other differentiation – that is, it preserves a plurality of individual perspectives and, hence, of mental states. 

By elaborating on Scheler’s theory, it can be shown that the first intuition concerns the metaphysical structure of the shared emotion, whereas the second intuition is about the way in which the emotion is lived through by the individuals. While, metaphysically, sharing an emotion implies this experience being numerically one, at the phenomenological level the emotion is lived through by the individuals from different perspectives. If this is on the right track, then the Schelerian conceptual framework of co-experiencing proves able to accommodate both intuitions.


Max Scheler; Collective Emotions; We-Mode

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