The Paradigm of Atmospheres

By Tonino Griffero
Translated by Sarah De Sanctis

Subjects: Phenomenology, Philosophy Of Psychology, Aesthetics, Philosophy
Series: SUNY series in Contemporary Italian Philosophy
Paperback : 9781438464060, 212 pages, January 2018
Hardcover : 9781438464053, 212 pages, April 2017

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Table of contents


1. Quasi-Things Come and Go and We Cannot Wonder Where They’ve Been (Starting from the Wind)

2. Quasi-Things Assault and Resist Us: Feelings as Atmospheres

3. Quasi-Things Are Felt (though Not Localized): The Isles of the Felt-Body

4. Quasi-Things Are Proofs of Existence: Pain as the Genesis of the Subject

5. Quasi-Things Affect Us (Also Indirectly): Vicarious Shame

6. Quasi-Things Communicate with Us: From the Gaze to the Portrait (and Back)

7. Quasi-Things Are the More Effective the Vaguer They Are: Twilightness


An aesthetic and phenomenological account of feelings.


In this book, Tonino Griffero introduces and analyzes an ontological category he terms "quasi-things. " These do not exist fully in the traditional sense as substances or events, yet they powerfully act on us and on our states of mind. He offers an original approach to the study of emotions, regarding them not as inner states of the subject, but as atmospheres, that is as powers poured out into the lived space we inhabit. Griffero first outlines the general and atmospheric characters of quasi-things, and then considers examples such as pain, shame, the gaze, and twilight—which he argues is responsible for penetrating and suggestive moods precisely because of its vagueness. With frequent examples from literature and everyday life, Quasi-Things provides an accessible aesthetic and phenomenological account of feelings based on the paradigm of atmospheres.

Tonino Griffero is Full Professor of Aesthetics at the University of Rome Tor Vergata and the author of many books, including Atmospheres: Aesthetics of Emotional Spaces, translated by Sarah De Sanctis. Sarah De Sanctis is General Manager of the UK branch of Labont (Laboratory for Ontology). She is the translator of Manifesto of New Realism, by Maurizio Ferraris, also published by SUNY Press.


"The task of modern phenomenology is to dissolve, with the help of corrections and additions, the contrasts solidified in the bath of involuntary vital experience, thus opening up new horizons of questioning and understanding. Tonino Griffero accomplishes this task by carefully ploughing the field of quasi-things, which I inaugurated. This is why the book is worthy of great attention. " — Hermann Schmitz, University of Kiel

"This volume is a significant contribution to the expanding literature on atmospheres. Most importantly, the book lays the groundwork for … the study of quasi-things. " — David Seamon, editor of Environmental and Architectural Phenomenology

"Griffero has written a phenomenological exploration of the pre-reflective dimensions of experience in the form of a pathetic aesthetics … This book, rich in originality and insight, illuminates an important new direction in the study of pre-reflective experience. " — Arnold Berleant, founding editor of Contemporary Aesthetics