Stenner, Paul and Greco, Monica (2013). Affectivity. Informática na Educaçao: Teoria e Prática, 16(1) pp. 49–70.



The concept of affectivity has assumed central importance in much recent scholarship, and many in the social sciences and humanities now talk of an ‘affective turn’. The concept of affectivity at play in this ‘turn’ remains, however, somewhat vague and slippery. Starting with Silvan Tomkins’ influential theory of affect, this paper will explore the relevance of the general assumptions (or ‘utmost abstractions’) that inform thinking about affectivity. The technological and instrumentalist character of Tomkins’ basic assumption will be traced through four socio-historical-technological configurations in the context of which thinking about affectivity is shaped. The political relevance of this instrumentalist utmost abstraction concerning affectivity is articulated by reference to Hobbes’ development of political science. In this way, through a critique of the instrumentalism informing Tomkins’ mode of thought, a way is opened for a revised general assumption concerning affectivity, based on process thinking.

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