Sunday, March 22, 2009

Heidegger on Mood

There is a very interesting discussion of moods in Being and Time. Interesting specially because it is quite different from what we generally think of when we think about moods. In so far as I understood what I read, Heidegger says that mood is not just a cognitive or psychological concept but something much more fundamental ("ontological"). He further says that there is nothing like not being in any mood. If we are in the world we are "always already in the mood."

"Both the undisturbed equanimity and the inhibited discontent of everyday heedfulness, the way we slide over from one to another or slip into bad moods, are by no means nothing ontologically although these phenomena remain unnoticed as what is supposedly the most indifferent and fleeting in Da-sein."

He also uses another word "attunement" for mood which probably makes it easier to understand what he really means. It is through moods that Dasein (that is us) attunes itself with the world. So the lack of mood which we experience in our banal everyday life is exactly what is required to deal with the banalities of life. The mood of angst and intense boredom on the other hand reveal to us our own existence in the world. The banal everyday mood is actually a flight away from the intensity one feels when one is in these moods. Then there is something like "public mood" too, which is again a flight away from authenticity.

We generally try to separate mood from thought, assuming that being in a mood will cloud the way we see and think of the world but as Heidegger says, it is only through moods that we are affected by the world. Unless we are in a mood we will not be affected by anything, nothing will matter. So if you are thinking about the world you have to think through a mood. So I guess scientists have their moods, mathematicians have theirs and philosophers (at least the existential ones) and poets of course have angst.

Keeping with the tone of the rest of the book Heidegger doesn't offer any prescriptions (of how we can be in more control of mood swings) but I guess heightened self-awareness (and the same of people around oneself) of moods will be of some help in this.

5 comments:

Smadraji said...

Nice Posting
Gay

Anuj D said...

But then have u noticed, how every Mood occurs under the pseudo-transcendental spectrum of a Temperament?

Infact a close analogy can be drawn on the relation between Mood and Temperament to the relation between the Freudian Desire to the Freudian Drive... what say u?

Anonymous said...

umm, not to be a concept nazi or anything, but cognitive concepts ARE psychological concepts. Perhaps you meant cognitive and affective concepts? (which is the traditional dichotomy?).

n!

Anonymous said...

Why not be a concept nazi? Heidegger didn't have any problem with the last bit...

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