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“Tentative Speech Acts – Close Talking”

Close Talking

The focus of my Habilitation is an explicative process I call Close Talking.  While developing thoughts or ideas, or a clearer understanding of an experience or a situation, there is something very specific one is trying to get at. This entails the risk that one cannot yet make sense in the way one would like to.

To inquire into what one “does with words” while one is trying to become more clear about something, means to complement the dominant intersubjective model of meaning. According to this model, language serves to convey (finished) meanings or intentions from A to B. In Close Talking, one is occupied by clarifying what it is one thinks, feels or intends.


Formulating is an experiencing in itself. It is best to be captured as an interactions between the words one uses and the fuzzy felt situation/problem/issue. The outcome of this interaction is not entirely in control. The felt, tacit dimension of the word’s meaning interacts, inter-affects with a yet unclear experienced meaning.

In these highly complex crossings, words can gain new nuances of meanings, while experience gains meaningful clarity or depth. An intricate embodied contextual whole is activated, developed further by the use of language.

A finished formulation is thus an emerging change, not a representation. The change in the embodied context is what we needed to say. Then, after being able to say what we meant, can we know what it “was”. Eugene Gendlin’s concept of “carrying forward” captures this implicit development taking place in the work of formulation. “Carrying forward’ opens new avenues to grasp the process of meaning making, leaving behind the alternatives of “representing”, “constructing” or “imposing” concepts on experience. Merleau-Ponty als recognized first-time formulations as a deeply important transformative events in culture.

My research was inspired by Eugene Gendlin’s embodied approach to meaning and his Philosophy of the Implicit. Other philosophers of importance for my research have been Georg Friedrich Hegel, Wilhelm Dilthey, William James, John Dewey, Charles Sanders Peirce, George HerbertMead, Maurice Merleau-Ponty, Ludwig Wittgenstein, Martin Heidegger, Stanley Cavell, Antonio Damasio, et. al. The monograph Close Talking is about to appear in the Humanprojekt Reihe of De Gruyter 2019.

Further Publications:

  • Close Talking statt Smalltalk. Neue Zürcher Zeitung, 20.1.2018​ NZZ_Close_Talking

  • “Tentative Sprechakte: Zur erstaunlichen Entfaltbarkeit von Hintergründen beim Formulieren.” Deutsche Zeitschrift für Philosophie 66, no. 2 (2018): 183–201.​

  • Schoeller, Donata, and Neil Dunaetz. “Thinking Emergence as Interaffecting Formation: Approaching Eugene Gendlin’s Process Model.” Continental Philosophy Review 51, no. 1 (2018): 123–40. To be reprinted in Mind and Matter 16, no. 1 (2018).

  • “Responsive Authenticity vs. Speculative Dialectic.” In Authenticity. Interdisciplinary Perspectives from Philosophy, Psychology, and Psychiatry, edited by Godehard Brüntrup and Michael Reder. Heidelberg: Springer, summer 2018. [Studien zur interdisziplinären Anthropologie]

  • “Eternal Recurrence and the Limits of Critical Analysis.” Nietzsche-Studien: Internationales Jahrbuch für die Nietzsche-Forschung 46 (2017): 153–66.

  • “Nahes Denken: die empfindliche Ordnung bei Eugene Gendlin; eine Einführung in seine Philosophie.” Deutsche Zeitschrift für Philosophie 56, no. 3 (2008): 385–397.

  • “Nahrung statt Zeichen: fünf Punkte unterstrichen.” In Punkt, Punkt, Komma, Strich: Geste, Gestalt und Bedeutung Zeichensetzung, edited by Christine Abbt und Tim Kammasch, 201–214. Bielefeld: Transcript, 2009.

  • “Der Blick von hier: die Bedeutung der Erste-Person-Perspektive bei Hermann Schmitz und Eugene Gendlin.” In Gefühle als Atmosphären: Neue Phänomenologie und philosophische Emotionstheorie, edited by Kerstin Andermann and Undine Eberlein, 233–244. Berlin: Akademie Verlag, 2011. [Deutsche Zeitschrift für Philosophie; Sonderbd. 29]

  • “Anfang: ein hermeneutisch-pragmatistischer Annäherungsversuch.” In Kehrseiten: Eine andere Einführung in die Philosophie, edited by Natalie Pieper and Benno Wirz, 15–35. Freiburg/Br.: Alber, 2014.

  • “Situation and Feeling: Re-affirming a Classical Pragmatistic Understanding of Embodied Conceptuality.” With Dr. Vera Saller (Under review)

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