Concern and the Structure of Action

  • Alexander A. Jeuk Independent Researcher, formerly University of Cincinnati
Keywords: Affect, Action, Concern, Spontaneity, Receptivity, Understanding, Embodiment


In this paper, I propose a theory of action based on a Heideggerian conception of concern, that integrates (embodied) understanding and affect. I proceed in three steps. First, I provide an analysis that identifies four central aspects of action that a satisfying theory of action needs to explain: i) the spontaneous aspect of behavior, which pertains to how action is motivated by situational interests. ii) The receptive aspect of behavior, which is about how a background of life-projects and long-term interests constrains action. iii) The spontaneous and iv) the receptive aspects of understanding, which pertain to how understanding provides a non-representational background for possible actions. Second, I provide an analysis of the spontaneous and receptive aspects of behavior in terms of concern. Thereby I establish that concern structures the direction and manner of an action, which explains autonomous and purposeful behavior without recourse to representational vocabulary (e.g. goal, desire, intention) and how situational and long-term interests can interact through the same structure. Third, I show that we understand the world concernfully by spontaneously not only contributing embodied abilities to our understanding of the world but also affect, which generates a passive-receptive background for action. This passive-receptive background allows to explain how we can want to engage in an action in the first place, in that we understand the world also always already affectively.

How to Cite
Jeuk, A. (2019). Concern and the Structure of Action. HUMANA.MENTE Journal of Philosophical Studies, 12(35), 249-270. Retrieved from