The Heart in Cardiophenomenology and Performance-Philosophy: Affect in Models of Cognition


  • Louise Struwe University of Vienna


The growing research field of Performance-Philosophy (PP) treats philosophical questions in a performative, transdisciplinary manner, where sensual feeling and sharing the with the public are key aspects to create a collective field of research.

Philosophy is a core discipline of Cognitive Science (CS), with the main role of asking epistemological questions about what knowledge is and how it relates to its producers. A phenomenological turn in CS puts emphasis on embodied, situated and affected cognition which changed its approaches to knowledge production. Examples are the concept affordance, based on 4E cognition, and the field Neurophenomenology, which aims to combine Phenomenology and Neuroscience.

However, the naturalization of CS is argued to provide an impoverished epistemology [1]; while new technologies enable innovative methods to study cognition, they are still mainly brain-centered, while experiential, qualitative aspects are lacking. Conversely, the newly developing field of Cardiophenomenology is argued to exemplify a Re-corporealization of Cognition (RoC) as it recenters the cognitive system around the heart. By combining organic (cardiac:heartbeats) and lived (affective:emotions) pre-conscious experience, it refines the project to bridge the gap between 1st and 3rd person perspectives [2].

A running PP Peek-project on the Heart [3] aims to bring back the corporeality and sensuality to Philosophy. It conceptualizes the Heart as the seat of a bodily-felt-sense (taste) in which the lived-body of humans find themselves always already embedded within a world that affects them bodily and virtually. A concept of the Heart that is prominently inspired by Friedrich Nietzsche’s philosophy.

Conducting a literature research, this project investigates how the Heart as a PP approach (conceptualized as: taste of a lived body, sensing virtual possibilities, and affect) can be situated in Cp, and to analyze how it incorporates lived-experience and affect as part of the study of cognition. Finally, to gain insight in the lenses which performativity can offer: such as to use the body and its sensuality to explore beyond quantitative methods and to become aware of the affects that shape the atmospheric fields in which we live and work. In Nietzsche’s words, thinking in alignment with our feeling to embrace a revolution of the Heart.

Anticipated outcomes include that Cp is focused on the internal dimensions of its subjects, both for the organic level and lived experience, while PP focuses on atmospheres in the relational field that affect those involved. And that the Heart could provide CS projects with a performative element which (1) would bring together affordance and affect conceptually, and (2) cultivate lived-bodily experience to be part of research on cognition; contributing to a more nuanced understanding of knowledge production in CS.


[1] M. Goldrick, An Impoverished Epistemology Holds Back Cognitive Science Research. Cognitive Science, 46: e13199, 2022.

[2] N. Depraz, T. Desmidt, ‘Cardiophenomenology: a refinement of neurophenomenology’. Phenom Cogn Sci, vol. 18, pp. 493–507, 2019.

[3] Philosophy in the Arts: Arts in Philosophy. Cross-Cultural Research on the Significance of the Heart in Artistic Research (AR) and Performance Philosophy (PP), Research Catalogue, 2024. [Online] [Accessed: May 8, 2024].