Central and East European
Society for Phenomenology

Conference | Paper

Social Phenomenology of Eccentricity

Marco Russo

Thursday 2 December 2021

12:50 - 13:30

Zoom 1-2

It is well known that Helmuth Plessner placed the notion of eccentricity at the basis of his anthropology. The notion evokes a dialectic between being and having, the visible and the invisible, the internal, external, and common worlds. It is a dialectic without synthesis, describing an irreducibly ambiguous way of being, where personal identity is the precarious result of opposing drives. The “I” is not the center of subjectivity, just as the “we” is not the center of sociality, since both are traversed by an impersonal sphere, which is a center of mediation, but also of estrangement and, therefore, of conflict.

My contribution aims to highlight the phenomenological and hermeneutical potential of the eccentric model with regard to sociality. To this end, I will consider the topic of embodiment (Verkörperung) and aesthesiology (Ästhesiologie), and then give an overview of a social dialectic of eccentric life. In the first part, I examine the relationship between body and role by outlining a kind of social aesthesiology, i.e., a public scene where, alongside the verbal exchange, also appearances, atmospheres, tastes, rituals, and artifices have a decisive function in giving form and meaning to collective life. In the second part, I highlight the ethical-political sense of the eccentric dialectic, where conflict and ambiguity are a resource, but also a constant threat to the balance of advanced societies.