Thursday, January 31, 2008

Winter, Week 3 Meeting - Part IV

I.V: Findingness and Moods (§29, §30)

Thrownness is revealed in findingness. Findingness is a structural moment or element of being-in, which often manifests itself in the form of moods. When we are thrown into being-x, we find ourselves as x, and so as thrown into x. 'Findingness' is our preferred translation of Befindlichkeit, which M&R translate as 'state-of-mind'. 'State-of-mind' is profoundly misleading because what Heidegger means by Befindlichkeit is neither mental nor a state. (Alternative translations include 'attunement,' 'disposition,’ ‘disposedness’ and Haugeland’s ‘sofindingness’). Findingness is dasein's receptivity, its ability to "tune in", if you will, to the "vibes" that are there (thanks to Richard Polt for remembering the 60's).

Moods are modes or manifestations of findingness. Because of the German word he uses (Stimmung), Heidegger often thinks of moods in musical terms. They are like the soundtrack to one's life, and they constitute the framework or mise-en-scene within which things show up in a certain way. Thus moods are disclosive or uncovering. (In a film, when soft music is playing a stare shows up as an indication of affection, but with a different kind of music it can reveal resentment or imminent aggression). Moods uncover entities in the way they matter to dasein. We noticed that in the analysis of fear (§30), the three structural moments correspond to the three structural moments of being-in-the-world: in fearing (being-in), dasein is fearful for itself (the ‘who’) in the face of a fearsome entity (the world). This shows that, as Heidegger says, moods—and findingness in general—disclose the whole of being-in-the-world.

We recognised that moods are only one mode of findingness, and so that there are other modes – notably, perception or sensation. Further, what Heidegger means by 'mood' covers not only feelings or affects (joy, hate, fear, indifference etc), but more broadly one's general disposition (e.g. a cheerful disposition) and even the mood of a community or era (the Zeitgeist).

We discussed whether cases of dasein always find themselves thrown into a mood (roughly, whether moods are passive), given that it is possible to control one's mood and sometimes to effect a counter-mood. (Which, note, suggests that we are always in some mood or other.) We decided that even though we can perform activities to encourage a change in our mood, this amounts to a receptivity to a new mood rather than an active choice of mood.

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