Contemporary philosopher Scott Alexander Howard appears to discredit time comparison views in order to conceptualize nostalgia as “Proustian.” My goal in this paper is to contest his theory by suggesting that Proustian nostalgia is a form of memory representation rather than an emotion. In turn, I describe emotions as value judgments corresponding to our psychological needs and desires, a notion accredited to Martha Nussbaum, and nostalgia as marked by its bittersweet valence, a concept aired out by Jesse Prinz. Inspired by the narrative identity theories of Dan McAdams, Jefferson Singer, and Daniel Dennett, I propose nostalgia to be the emotional symbolization, as described by Susanne Langer, of value judgments ensconced in our memories. Nostalgia, thereby, ties together the disparate timeframes of our life narrative and instills us with a sense of purposefulness.
Hannel, Norah, "Nostalgia: Affective Glue for Life’s Narrative" (2014). Philosophy Honors Papers. 5.
The views expressed in this paper are solely those of the author.