THe Phenomenology of MOODS: Time, Place, and NORMATIVE GRIP
What are moods, and how do they affect our experience? When our mood changes—such as when we find ourselves thrown into an anxious, irritable, depressed, bored, tranquil, or cheerful mood—how might we expect the content and structure of our experience to be altered? Answering these questions is crucial for understanding how moods work and the role that moods play in our lives. But despite a resurgence of interest in the topic of emotions within Anglo-American philosophy in recent decades, the topic of moods has been relatively neglected. And although the phenomenological tradition contains a wealth of insights into the nature of affective experience in general, no theorist has attempted to apply these insights to the investigation of moods in their particularity, as affective structures distinct from emotions, temperaments, cultural attitudes, and so on. As a result, the major philosophical approaches to affectivity remain unequipped to explain the unique and fascinating features of the phenomenon. This dissertation fills these gaps in the literature. Building on Martin Heidegger’s phenomenology of affective attunement, Matthew Ratcliffe’s phenomenology of major depression, Jorge Portilla’s phenomenology of group practices, and philosophical theories of narrative, I develop a novel account of the way moods affect our experience, both as individuals and as groups. I argue that while emotions are responses to particular objects, moods enact our interpretation of the present situation as a whole—and in some cases, moods impose a narrative structure onto our experience. In this way, moods systematically alter our experience of time, place, and normative grip, thereby establishing a local context of significance that shapes the way we interpret and respond to the particular objects we encounter. By thus clarifying the “existential” dimension of moods, this dissertation offers new insights into a phenomenon that plays a profound and essential role in our lives.