McAnulty College and Graduate School of Liberal Arts
Event, Flirting, Heidegger, Intentionality, Liminality, Phenomenology
In this dissertation I bring out concealed aspects of the lived experience of flirting by studying it neither as a subjective act nor as an objective behavior, but as a liminal event. Liminality is an anthropological concept that designates a realm of experience that falls outside identity and mutually exclusive binaries. I argue that flirting is a liminal experience in so far as it is an experience that both constitutes me through the other and is constituted by me as a way of relating to the other. What is primary is thus not self or other, but the relation or liminality between them. To bring this liminality into view, I develop an interpretive framework that does not cover liminality over by subordinating it to one or the other identity, but seeks to think of liminality as a primary ontological concept. I find a basis for such a stance in the phenomenological concept of intentionality. Intentionality designates the idea that a subjective experience is always an experience of something nonsubjective or something worldly. What intentionality therefore reveals is that lived experience belongs neither to the subject nor to the object, but to the "middle" or "relation" between them. Trying to think of subject and object from out of this middle rather than to define the middle from either the subject or the object, brings me to an understanding of lived experience as an event that first brings subject and object into relation. Flirting can now be studied from the "middle" through which self and other become constituted as flirtatious and flirting's phenomenal nature as event can be brought into view. The contribution of my dissertation is thus two-fold: Firstly, I develop a phenomenology of the event based on a liminal interpretation of phenomenology. Secondly, I use this phenomenological understanding as an interpretive framework for studying 13 descriptions of lived experiences of flirting. The result is a dialogue through which a phenomenological interpretation of liminality is used to more fully illuminate the experience of flirting, and the experience of flirting is used to demonstrate the phenomenological concept of liminality in a practical everyday situation.
Mølbak, R. (2010). Flirting as a Liminal Experience: A Dialogue between a Philosophical-Phenomenological Understanding of Liminality and an Empirical-Existential Study of Flirting (Doctoral dissertation, Duquesne University). Retrieved from https://dsc.duq.edu/etd/940