Sunday, July 31, 2011

Dissertation Problem: Heidegger and Scheler on Moods

This post presupposes familiarity with Heidegger's thought. 

The distinction between fundamentally authentic moods and inauthentic moods differentiates with the depth of complexity. Fear takes an object and is, in a certain sense, not as primordial as anxiety. Anxiety is so fundamental that it does not take an object, but concerns everything and nothing. I want to claim that anxiety is derivative of a more basic mood. I am substituting anxiety with the example of love found in Scheler's work. At least, this is the basis of my critique. 

Love does not take a specific object, but requires others. I want to say something like  love concerns everyone and nobody all at the same time (thinking that love would have the identical structure to anxiety). It is a moral orientation I take up in relation to the world at a primordial level. Someone might object that I've just substituted an impersonal other to stand in for everyone and nobody all at the same time. Of course, my analytic training -- like a Spidey-sense if you're a comic book geek -- informs me I should reject the distinction authentic/inauthentic moods in Heidegger. However, this impedes my story to say that anxiety is not derivative at all. To say something derives from something else is to give an interpretation as to why X is more primordial than Y. Therefore, I still need to assume a level of primordiality which occupies the level of the authentic. This is my current problem. 

I could disassociate authenticity from primordiality, but I take it that Heidegger's want for a primordial science, a fundamental ontology, is the aim of phenomenological research itself. If phenomenology is not after the fundamental structures of human existence at the primordial level, then I abandon the level where I am working out the problem. In Scheler, the immediately given within intuition is what is proper to phenomenology. I could substitute Scheler's conception of phenomenology first as a more "realistic" and concrete version. At that point, though, it is not so much as working the problem out within phenomenology as simply asserting that one is better. My project needs to be worked out in phenomenlogy for two reasons: A) it is the common background from which this problem emerges and B) internal to phenomenology, there are resources I think are here; I just need to find them. 

Moreover, Merleau-Ponty might be right in thinking there is no complete reduction. As such, Heidegger is a product of that level of skepticism and Scheler is an enthusiast with respect to its exercise. 


Rich said...

Well I don't think I can really assist, but as someone studying a lot of Heidegger (and getting around to Merleau-Ponty now too), I can say it definitely sounds incredibly interesting, what you're doing.

Carbondale Chasmite said...

Aww. Staffordshire. They accepted me into their MA years ago, but I went to try out philosophy at Essex.

I have since developed a four-pronged approach to Heidegger that is the basis of another post around the time of this one. Perhaps, you can comment on my criticisms of Being and Time.

Rich said...

Funnily enough I once almost went to Essex for a video games degree, then ended up doing philosophy at Staffs.

Sounds interesting, I'll check it out.