We influence each other constantly and in many ways. On the one hand are ethically unproblematic forms of influence, e.g., if we want to convince someone of something in a rational, argumentative manner founded in good reason. On the other hand are those we usually identify as problematic, for they interfere with our capacity to act freely: forms of influence that coerce us to act in a certain way. But there are also forms of influence that lie in between these poles, not primarily rationally influencing us but also not coercing us. They make use of our inner, often unconscious workings, using peripheral routes of decision- making to influence by means of modulating our affective states. While manipulation has traditionally been viewed negatively, typically as a self-serving method of deceitful coercion, leading to harmful consequences – Shakespeare’s Iago can be considered an iconic example – manipulation is in fact a more complex phenomenon, as this lecture will show. Lecture given by Max Kade Visiting Professor Alexander Fischer.
Originally published at germanandrussian.nd.edu.