The Emotional Self

Merleau-Ponty suggests that the method for existential analysis must be phenomenology. Hence, Uranga reads and appropriates Merleau-Ponty’s own appropriation of Husserlian phenomenology toward an analysis, or future analysis, of the being of the Mexican. This analysis will involve a reduction to the essence of Mexican life, to what it means to be Mexican: “The originary lived experience [vivencia originaria] of Mexican- ness should serve to measure and calibrate the meaning of Mexicanness and to highlight the essential thematic nucleus that words, isolated or in context, poetry or prose, have organized, denominated or expressed” (Uranga 1948, 234). That is, the reduction will take us to the concrete life of Mexicans and not to abstract conceptual descriptions that project this being. For this reason, Uranga finds value in Merleau-Ponty’s insertion of emotions into the phenomenological description, as emotions perfectly situate a concrete being in a physical, psychic, and historical circumstance.

A full description of the human being would be incomplete without an account of emotive life. Uranga says: “In emotion the body seeks to transform the world in a nontechnical manner, to transform itself in a magical way. . . . Emotion is body in the world” (1948, 225). In other words, emotion orients one in the world, and allows the world to be as one desires it to be in any particularly designated moment. “We cry and see the world as an exact correlate of our sadness,” Uranga says, and “everything is darkness” (225). The implication here is that a change in our emotions can bring about a change in our world. Mexicans, he would go on to say in his Analisis del ser del mexicano (Analysis of Mexican being) four years later, are particularly emotional people. However, their emotions are not at all positive (a result, ultimately, of their ontological “accidentality” [more on this in chapters 3 and 5]). In Uranga’s Analisis he lists some of these negative emotions as “abandon, futility, fragility, oscillation, sadness” (1952, 41). We can gather from this that if Mexicans change their attitudes, or their emotions, then they can change their world. He writes: “Emotion . . . places the world before the body, and bringing about a change of sense in the body it moves toward [bringing about] a new sense of the world” (225).4

Phenomenology, in Uranga’s characterization, will return us to the life world and to the complexity of living in that world; it will not alienate us from these in abstractions or detachments far removed from what matters. “To reflect on the things is not to escape them, but to return, amazed or perplexed, to have contact with the world from which we have emerged, and from which we have distanced ourselves so as to understand, by contrast, its inevitable aspect of contingency” (1948, 235-236). To return, always, to the world and the living person is the concrete destiny of the philosopher. In Uranga’s case, the world to which he returns is that conceptual, material, spiritual, and historical geographical space that is Mexico—to a world where emergencies are real, and where everything is significant, where all the facts, relations, and hopes complete a picture.5

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