Reclaiming Words: Resonance

Resonance (n.): noun: the quality in a sound of being deep, full, and reverberating; the power to evoke enduring images, memories, and emotions.

In sociology, resonance is a quality of relationships with the world as proposed by Professor Hartmut Rosa. In our Western cultures, he explains, we tend to be validated through action; one must always be active and willing, but this is a form of aggression. Many people actually aspire to be in the world in a non aggressive way but don’t know how to. Many simply think this would mean being completely passive, but this is a binary way of thinking, rooted in our language which offers only active or passive.

He believes the good life situates itself in between, it is a way of being in the world which is both passive and active. The most flourishing forms of human existence, he suggests, are these in between ways of immersing ourselves in the world. This is what he calls resonance: being affected by something and being fully active. “It’s an opening,” he says “I allow something to touch me and transform me. But it’s not pure passivity, or a morbid vegetative state; I am receptive to what comes.” Resonance cannot be decided, planned or bought. It happens. If we are always engaged, hyperactive, busy, always involved in our projects, we cannot begin to resonate.

Etymology: from Old French resonance (15c.) and directly from Latin resonantia "an echo," from resonare "to sound again, sound back". Earlier in the same sense was resonation (early 15c.). From 1660s as "act of resonating."

[Source: Oxford Languages, Wikipedia, Philosophie Magazine, Hors serie N. 58, L’art de ne rien faire, Etymonline.]

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