Feelings, when involved with universals, can also be philosophical

Wisdom is a thought-feeling.

I remember here something I read a while back that wisdom is what bridges philosophy and contemplation. Wisdom also seems to bridges thought and action. Actually, to be accurate. Wisdom, being a thought-feeling, bridges thought-feeling and action. We act not just because we think it is the right action, but because we feel so. Often times, we are moved more by our feelings rather than our thoughts.

Thought has neither the wisdom of affective experience nor the affective experience of wisdom.

We are moved more and spurred to action and change by feelings rather than thoughts.

This is related to the fact that people believe on something not because it is right but because it has some benefit to them. Benefits include psychological and emotional benefits.

Feelings seize, stir, and excite people more than abstract thoughts do, because the former are more deeply related to personality and behavior. Great philosophers—Plato, Kant, Schelling, Kierkegaard, Nietzsche, Heidegger, Jaspers, Sartre, Berdiaev—experience philosophical feelings and, indeed, philosophical passions that help determine the scope of their minds.

what matters more is to elaborate philosophical emotions as ways of experiencing the world—and as ways of changing it. Emotions of philosophical cast affect the world more powerfully and directly than do metaphysical ideas and logical propositions. A revolution is driven by philosophical wrath, exasperation with the existing order of things, and the feeling that the world is unjust. Scientific discoveries are impelled by philosophical wonder at the mysteries of the universe. Works of art and technical innovations are propelled by philosophical feelings of excitement, pride, and freedom to transform the world.

Philosophical thoughts strive for universality.

For some support on this, review highlights from the article on Pilosopiyang Filipino.

Philosophical thoughts distinguish themselves from nonphilosophical ones by their striving for universality. “John is stupid” is not a philosophical thought, while “humankind is stupid” is one.

The craft of philosophy is essentially emotional.

People sensitive to philosophy experience their attitudes toward the world in general as an emotional drama. They are tormented, exhilarated, amazed by the mysteries of the universe.

The aim of philosophy is not so much to change the world (recalling Marx’s eleventh thesis on Feuerbach), or even to explain it, as it is to cultivate the most refined and profound feelings about the world.

The power of thinkers is more truly characterized by the depth of their philosophical feelings.

The feeling of wonder is the source of philosophy.

Wonder, which is felt everyday, when applied to universal subjects, becomes the fuel from which philosophizing becomes possible. Wonder makes us ask and investigate for the root of things. Wonder is the source of metaphysics.

Sooner after we start our philosophical journey in wonder do we realize it will also end in wonder. Because philosophy shows that the deepest questions don’t have clear answers or have answers as mysteries.

Wonder produces philosophizing, which in turn produces more wonder.

“For it is owing to their wonder that men both now begin to and at first began to philosophize; they wondered originally at the obvious difficulties, then advanced little by little and stated difficulties about the greater matters, e.g. about the phenomena of the moon and those of the sun and of the stars, and about the genesis of the universe. And a man who is puzzled and wonders thinks himself ignorant.” (Aristotle)

everyday wonder is transformed into philosophical wonder—the source of philosophy itself—by its application to the “greater matters” of cosmology and the principles of existence.

Wonder provokes us to ask questions about the nature of ordinary things and, in doing so, to become absorbed in their causes and, further, in the causes of the causes and then deep into the foundations of all existing phenomena, which is the subject of metaphysics.

Actually, the purpose of philosophy is not to answer plainly and definitively all our questions but to lead us to the deepest recesses of the unknown and unknowable—from wonder to wonder, from mystery to mystery. Wonder is not only the beginning but also the end of philosophizing: “Two things,” Kant writes, “fill the mind with ever new and increasing admiration and awe, the oftener and more steadily we reflect on them: the starry heavens above me and the moral law within me.”

It is not just that wonder prompts us toward meditation but also that meditation invokes even greater wonder.

Examples of philosophical feelings

Philosophical contempt for the shallow circumstances, trifles, and everyday fuss that divert people from “the greater matters”: the search for the meaning of life and the fulfilling of human destiny;

Philosophical wrath against an unjust world order that gives everything to some and nothing to others, that torments the righteous and favors the impious;

Philosophical anxiety over the mind’s inability to see the world as a whole and thereby determine its meaning;

Philosophical fear of Being because it is unknowable, or of non-Being because it is annihilation, or of one’s own insignificance in relation to infinity;

Philosophical sorrow over the knowledge that all things pass, that even the greatest of deeds and people are forgotten

Philosophical tormen

Universals are general qualities that can either be concepts or feelings.

A universal, as I am using the term, is a general concept or a common quality of many phenomena, for example “beauty,” “home,” “number,” and “mind.” However, a universal might also be something that evokes similar feelings, brings about the emotional state of joy or wonder, provokes fear or boredom. “The joyful,” “the boring,” and “the wondrous” are examples of universals graspable by emotions rather than by reason.

Thinking without feeling

Thinking without feeling is shallow and becomes tautological. What distinguishes synthetic judgments from analytic ones is a feeling intrinsic to the concepts yet nevertheless not logically deducible from them. Analytic philosophy is devoid of great philosophical feelings, whereas philosophical judgment, when it becomes synthetic (in the Kantian sense), may be based on flights and leaps of feeling.

Combine emotion and thought to create a lyrical philosophical statement.

A feeling and a thought interpenetrate and form a philosophical mind-mood (or call it a senti-mentality).

“All the dignity of man consists in thought. Thought is, therefore, by its nature a wonderful and incomparable thing” (Thoughts, fragment 365)—this is an example of a deeply synthetic and emotionally invested judgment.

How can they be reunited? Sometimes passionate meditation is effective, as it was for Augustine, Pascal, Kierkegaard, Dostoyevsky, and Nietzsche, among others.

In general, though, the philosophically significant boundary lies not between thoughts and feelings but between mundane empirical thoughts and feelings, on the one hand, and comprehensive, universal thoughts and feelings, on the other. The genuine vocation of philosophy is to expand the realm of feelings through the generalizing capacity of the reason, so that love, joy, hope, pain, and grief can be experienced in a noble way, on the largest, global scale not reducible to private or practical situations.

At the zenith of such experiences, new feelings emerge for which there are no extant words, whereas in commonplace situations experienced in routine ways, such feelings arise only rarely.

Philosophy needs to take a course on sentimental education to acquire the ability, in the words of Byzantine hesychasts, to “immerse the mind in the heart” (that is, to experience what the mind otherwise merely contemplates). The cultivation of philosophical feelings should become the focus of philosophical education.

So what shall I do? I will pray with my spirit, but I will also pray with my mind; I will sing with my spirit, but I will also sing with my mind. —Saint Paul, First Epistle to the Corinthians 14:15

There occur states of mind when indeed the intellect sings. In such states, a thought becomes rhythmic, self-expressive, and even rapturous, while remaining a thought and thus conveyed through premises, arguments, and conclusions.

lyric philosophy that therefore requires the expression of direct acts of will in the first-person singular, addressing a “you”

What, after all, are Augustine, Montaigne, Kierkegaard, Emerson, and Nietzsche, if they are not lyric philosophers? How else to explain, in their work, the direct self-expression of the thinking subject in the process of attaining self-cognition?

Some philosophies are inclined more toward thoughts, others toward feelings.

Some philosophies are inclined more toward thoughts, others toward feelings. Hegelian philosophy (whose heart, not incidentally, is The Science of Logic) is abstractly speculative, while Nietzsche’s “joyful science” is not a science at all but a morality bursting with feelings that are not always virtuous: wrath, scorn, exultation, revulsion, and the desire for revenge. In the context of Nietzschean philosophy, feelings now and then flood the mind, suppress it, render it overly irritable and ecstatic. Vasiliy Rozanov’s works suffer from even greater emotional unrestraint, frequently projecting the philosopher’s feelings beyond the frontiers of his thoughts, which, despite his strong feelings, remain shallow or trivial

Anglo-American analytic philosophy and Continental (including Russian) existential philosophy represent two extremes beyond which thinking and feeling occasionally separate.

Lyrical philosophy vs Philosophical lyric

In lyrical philosophy, lyric serves philosophy. In philosophical lyric, it is the other way around.

This is lyrical philosophy or, if you will, lyrosophy, in which lyricism serves philosophy—in contrast to philosophical lyricism, in which philosophy serves lyric.

It is easy to understand what philosophical lyric is: Omar Khayyam, Donne, Goethe, and Rilke are examples. Lyrical philosophy, however, has not yet found its place in our system of concepts.

the expression “metaphysical poetry” has been well established for a long time in English and occurs many times more frequently than the expression “poetic(al) metaphysics.” At the same time, it is or should be obvious that no less space is given to lyricism in philosophy than is given to philosophy in lyric.

Philosophy is innescapably lyrical

In lyric, as opposed to epic and drama, the object of artistic mastery is the speaking subject. The subject can feel and think about him- or herself, and so the lyrical “I” emerges (as opposed to the epic “he” or dramatic “you”). We have learned from Kant that a subject is inseparable from his or her acts of judgment on the world of objects and thus that all philosophy—as distinct from the empirical sciences, and insofar as philosophy is nondescriptive and nonanalytical—bears an insoluble residue of lyricism.

In each act of self-cognition, we exceed ourselves as the object of cognition: we become “overmen” in relation to ourselves. Gödel’s incompleteness theorems explain the impossibility of any system’s complete self-description within the framework of its own axioms—a limitation that proves to be the dynamic principle of any system in its progress to a new level of self-reflexivity.

Lyricism in philosophy makes evident the excess of the subject of self-cognition over itself as its own object. Such is the overall paradox of the human sciences, through which humanity studies itself: since it is impossible to objectify oneself, the subject in the humanities complements any act of self-description with an act of creative self-expression. Here is the source of the lyricism of human self-cognition; it manifests itself above all in philosophy, since philosophy continuously needs to ground itself as such, to compensate for the lack of an object specific to itself, and to justify its global, all-comprehensive scope.

In a broader sense, though, we can talk not only about lyrical philosophy as one of this literature’s species but also about the lyricism of philosophy tout court. If the human being is an animal preoccupied with self-determination, then philosophy is an especially human practice. The fundamental questions of philosophy are what philosophy itself is, what its vocation and subject area are, and how it is positioned among other practices. Philosophy does not have its own particular, “positive” object, and so, like humanity, is preoccupied with the conditions of its own possibility and/or necessity. Since the subject focused on itself is essential to lyricism, we may even speak of the generic lyricism of philosophy. Its lyricism is in this sense inescapable.

Hence, the issue of lyricism in philosophy, so far from being arbitrary, seems to me to be already the focal theme of philosophy as the experience of a self-substantiating and self-contemplating thought.

Lyrical philosophy relies on a thinking subject who is permitted to express itself

Epstein argues that this subject has to think universally though, not personally or mundane. Leaving the universal is leaving philosophizing.

Philosophy, which tends to feel shy about its lyricism, conceals it behind claims for epistemological objectivity and scientific veracity.

Lyrical philosophy is not ashamed of its rootedness in a thinking subject and permits expression of his or her subjecthood explicitly and systematically. At the same time, subjecthood as a means of self-expression for the transcendental subject (in the Kantian sense) should be distinguished from the purely personal subjectivity inherent to empirical individuals, with all their special inclinations and caprices. Subjecthood differs from subjectivity to the same extent as philosophical feelings differ from the mundane ones experienced in everyday situations, hence the necessity of distinguishing a lyrical image of the philosophizing “I” from the author as a biographical subject. Indeed, the lyrical protagonists of philosophy often present themselves as conceptual personae, under pseudonyms, such as “Zarathustra” for Nietzsche and “Johannes Climacus” for Kierkegaard.

Lyrical philosophy is a mode of philosophical literature.

At the same time, lyricism as a specific mode of philosophy (along with drama, for example, in Plato’s dialogues) must not be confused with any of the intellectual directions, such as idealism or materialism, phenomenology or deconstruction, that lyrical philosophy tends to take.

When discussing various philosophical schools and conceptual systems, we often forget that philosophy, like any other field of literature, embraces modes and genres that, to some extent, intersect with those of fiction.

Lyrical philosophy fully deserves consideration as a distinctive, still insufficiently explored mode of philosophical literature.


Epstein, M. (2014). Lyrical Philosophy, or How to Sing with Mind. Common Knowledge, 20(2), 204–213. https://doi.org/10.1215/0961754X-2422899