Protevi, John. Intro to Political Affect

Protevi, John. Political Affect. Minneapolis, University of Minnesota Press, 2009.

To remember:

  • [‘political physiology’:] the imbrications of the social and the somatic: how our bodies, minds, and social settings are intricately and intimately linked … indicate[s] not only this mix of intellectual resources [science, philosophy, and politics] but also in order to indicate that subjectivity is sometimes bypassed in favor of a direct linkage of the social and the somatic (xi).
  • we see a direct linkage in basic triggered emotions, such as rage and panic, and in direct political/medical control of physiological processes–an intense form of biopower (Foucault) … in addition to treating instances in which the subject is bypassed, my treatment of affective cognition in social contexts also challenges both the exclusion of affect from cognition and the individualism of most treatments of the subject, insisting that subjectivity be studied both in its embodied affectivity and in terms of the distribution of affective cognitive traits in a population (xi).
  • we need to turn to population thinking to describe the development and distribution of cognitively and affectively important traits in a population as a remedy to this abstract adult subject … to do a philosophy of mind properly, we need to study the multiple ways in which subjects develop as a result of different social practices (xii).
  • bodies politic, political cognition, and political affect (xii).
  • [bodies politic:] capture[s] the emergent–that is, the embodied/embedded/extended–character of subjectivity … the way the production, bypassing, and surpassing of subjectivity is found in the interactions of somatic and social systems … inherent relations of freedom and constraint, of individual and group, of subordination and hierarchy, make these systems amenable to political analysis … regulation of material flows performed by these systems make them objects of physiological study; and the triggering of qualitatively different feelings by those material flows, as well as the subtle negotiations of dynamic coupling of social emotions, makes them the object of psychological study (xii).
  • These networks of bodies politic are knitted together by the interlocking of processes that link the patterns, thresholds, and triggers of the behavior of the emergent superordinate (and sometimes transversal) bodies (xii).
  • three compositional scales of bodies politic–personal [somatic bodies politic], group [eventual bodies politic/social encounters], and civic [civic bodies politic:patterns and triggers of institutional action]–as well as three temporal scales–short-term, mid-term, and long-term (xii).


To consume:

  • Gilles Deleuze & Félix Guattari
  • Humberto Maturmana & Francisco Varela
  • Emanuel Kant
  • Aristotle

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