Moods Between Intelligibility and Articulability. Re-Examining Heidegger’s and Hegel’s Accounts of Affective States

Philosophia 45 (4):1587-1598 (2017)
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Abstract

Moods are usually taken to be pre-intentional affective states that tune our experience and cognition. Moreover, moods are sometimes considered to not only accompany cognitive acts, but to be understanding phenomena themselves. The following paper examines the assumption that moods represent a specific interpretative skill. Based upon that view, the semantic content of moods seems to be self-determining and to elude conceptual articulation. By contrast, I defend the thesis that the alleged inarticulable intelligibility of affective experiences is possible only due to its belonging to a comprehensive theoretical horizon. For that purpose, I first analyze Heidegger’s influential account on moods in Being and Time, in order to clarify his claim that moods have their own understanding. Although Heidegger asserts that attuned understanding becomes itself when it is interpreted, he nevertheless rejects conceptual unfolding as a legitimate disclosure of the intelligible content of moods. I amend Heidegger’s account by engaging Hegel’s approach to this topic in his Philosophy of Mind. In this text, Hegel argues that feelings cannot give an account of their purport by feeling alone. Affective states not only manifest the need and urge to express themselves, but they reach their full extent when their meaning is disclosed within the entirety of the mind. It may be the case that affective states cannot always be fully clarified, but, even within a non-cognitivist account of moods, their intelligibility requires our acquaintance with articulated understanding.

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