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Surprise as a phenomenal marker of heart-unconscious

Natalie Depraz

pp. 239-259


In this contribution I would like to make a room for another unconscious, which I name the "heart unconscious". To me it appears as a remarkable possible thread in order to bridge, more, to weave together two already well-known threads; that is, broadly speaking, the physical and the subjective, which first appear ontologically irreducible. Why? Well, one initial argument in favour is that the heart-unconscious allows a pre-conscious continuity of our experiential dynamics because of its very twofold structure, organic (the heart-muscle) and lived (heart-affectivity). In order to reveal the specificity of such an experiential pre-conscious heart-unconscious, I will put to work a very simple and daily experience; namely, the experience of surprise. Why surprise? My idea is that surprise is a remarkable marker of heart-unconscious, insofar as, in a similar structural way, it also appears as a twofold objective-subjective pre-conscious, easily conscious becoming occurrence, manifesting as a physiological-cardiac startle as well as a lived perplexity.

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