Sunday, August 7, 2011

4 Problems of Attunement and Mood in Being and Time


I wanted to share something I'm working on, and wondered if I am off base. Heideggerians and Schelerians alike are welcomed to respond. These are four criticisms I'm using in what will become my Dissertation Prospectus and Chapter 1. I'm still working out whether or not these are appropriate and well justified criticisms. 

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I wish to summarize the claims I have made and will make based on extrapolating from them.

            (1) Heidegger’s conception of attunement through mood does not explain how attunement through mood brings into relief what matters to us. He merely insists on this point, and this cannot be given without some level of interpretation which he does not provide. If he did, then a proper candidate for bringing into relief what matters to us is not that the world is disclosed as such. More than that, the world is already “charged” by the very moods that prepare a way for the world to be disclosed. In this fashion, Heidegger is not wrong in thinking that there is already some agreement about what we find threatening prior to experience—we’ll see this in the example of fear below. Even more so, Heidegger outlines the basic non-neutrality of knowledge in general. We are already underway. We come to inhabit a world saturated with meanings already interpreted. As such, I am not claiming that Heidegger’s mood bring us into an original transcendent relation to what matters to us. Instead, I am merely claiming that without really stating how attunement relates to what matters to us, attunement leaves unsaid the truly interpersonal and intersubjective factors that help describe how it is that we come care about what matters to us. Put another way, how does attunement through mood find its expression in things mattering to us when there is no correlate established to how things actually matter to us? What is the phenomenological depth beyond simply positing that they matter?

            (2) Heidegger’s avoidance of connecting affective life to value can partially be explained by Heidegger’s interpretation of values as present-at-hand. This explains why Heidegger never wanted to include within BT’s fundamental ontology a type of moral phenomenology. Even in Scheler’s dissertation, Parvis Emad reminds us that Scheler regarded values as nothing.[1]  That is, Scheler did not even take up values as propositions or the discourse of moral facts. In the Formalism in Ethics and Non-Formal Ethics of Values, Scheler describes value phenomenologically. For him, values are expressed as emotive intuition (f├╝hlende Anschauung).[2] As it is too early to spell out these differences in full, part of the disagreement with Scheler will be the essential doctrine of intentional feeling and its correlate (or as Scheler uses the term “connection”) of values. It is within lacking intentional feeling that Heidegger fails to observe the reality of the full emotional life. This also follows that Heidegger does not observe the interpersonal dimension of emotional life and leads us directly into (3) below.

            (3) Heidegger’s care structure is not primordially constitutive of Dasein. By describing affective life as co-operative with other elements of the structure, Heidegger cannot see the full independent problematic offered by the complexity of emotional life. Specifically, emotional life is its own independent sphere. It is rather the sphere of spirit at the level of the person that demands analysis. As such, care and anxiety are not fundamental but derivative structures of what is more fundamental, spirit. Within spirit, Scheler offers the interpretation that love and hate are more essential than anxiety.

            (4) A central concern in Heidegger’s notion of authenticity is that an anticipatory resoluteness is not constrained by norms. This follows from the fact that in authenticity Dasein leaps ahead of others on its own, and if we admitted a degree of interpersonal dimension, such a possibility of Dasein would be a leaing-in would not be construed negatively as ontic and inauthentic. Leaping-in extols the publicness of the They to overtake my own possibilities. Thus, the authentic mode of being-in-the-world embodied in Befindlichkeit must shed the evaluative associations with inauthenticity over authenticity, even despite Heidegger’s claiming these are non-evaluative concepts in his fundamental ontology.

Given my interpretive claims above, Heidegger opens the way for phenomenologists. Heidegger provides the first primordial interpretation to emotional life apart from Scheler’s contribution anterior to his efforts of the early 1920s. Ever since Plato, most of Western thought has regarded the emotions with a secondary importance. Reason is that which most often trumps the passions. However, Heidegger might have opened the door for a conception of the emotions, but his aim has always been to provide an ontologically constitutive interpretation of human life in general and given how values centrally feature into human experience in general, no ontologically constitutive schema can avoid them. This is the shortcoming of Heidegger’s basic approach, and one I will advance in this dissertation. For now, let us move on to his example of fear in §30 in order to make good on my interpretation.


[1]  Parvis Emad, Heidegger and the Phenomenology of Values (Glen Ellyn, IL: Torey Press, 1981), p. 110.
[2] Formalism Max Scheler, Formalism in Ethics and Non-Formal Ethics of Values: A New Attempt Toward the Foundation of an Ethical Personalism trans. M. S. Frings and R. Funk, (Evanston: Northwestern University Press, 1973), p. 265. I cite this as the Formalism hereafter.

7 comments:

Chris said...

I'm afraid I only have a few things to say about number 1.

Are you not thrown? I think this is all Heidegger needs to ask. Befindlichkeit contributes 'being-already-in' to the structure of care, and in Div. 2, will give us the structure of the past.

When does Dasein become awake to Sein as an issue for it? When it does, are not there meaningful relations always already taken up? What constitutes meaningful relations for Dasein? That Dasein must make decisions based on its thrown condition, i.e., I have to decide this possibility over that possibility. That's commitment. It's because Dasein's always already dying that those commitments stand as commitments (lest I be able to commit to everything immortally). What's a decision other than a cutting off a possibility for being?

I also don't see why other people are absent from this. Das Man is always already ordering Dasein's relations. But if you want to get the interpersonal from SZ, you want to look at talk (Rede). Talk seems to permeate the Being-in structures, and shows others as co-thrown and co-projecting.

Carbondale Chasmite said...

Thank you Chris for your textually sensitive questions. Obviously, the analysis of these problems takes place in the stasis prior to Division II's attempt to temporalize the structure of care. I really only worked through sections 29, 30 and 40 in Division 1. As you mention, the triadic structure is each associated with a mode of temporality. Perhaps, you see the problem with that chosen method. I might need to go to Division II.

Below, I don’t know if I have your criticisms down exactly, and as such I have described your position in propositions: A), B) and C). I want to get clear where you think I may have gone wrong. Let's get that clear before I address any of the concerns:

A) Given that we are thrown, and already underway, there is no clear way to say that meaning is not found already in attunement and mood.

If A) is what you mean, I accept thrownness as the world is already charged with emotional significance that prepare the way for the disclosure of self.

B) Thrownness and affects what we may deliberate about our commitments. Commitments are made possible by the fact that we are being-towards-death.

Do I have B) right?

C) Das Man orders the possible relations Dasein will take up in relation to Others. Therefore, there is no interpersonal dimension missed in Heidegger's phenomenology.

Is C) what you are suggesting?

C) can be instantiated in several places in BT, e.g. Rede

And finally do I have the tangential point of C) right?

I should say a little more about where I am coming from. The problems being raised in Heidegger concern only one aspect of the care structure. I am concerning myself only with the phenomenology of emotions in Heidegger, and the main thesis is that Heidegger avoids the value-correlates specifically connected to emotional experience. Therefore, I am attempting to read Scheler against Heidegger.

Rich said...

Interesting, I don't know Scheler though so I'm a bit lost for some of it.

When you say that "the world is already “charged” by the very moods that prepare a way for the world to be disclosed", do you mean that the world is already charged before experience, or that in thrownness we find ourselves attuned to some things in certain ways that are perhaps dictated by our upbringings?

I might go back to the attunement stuff as it's not primarily what I'm looking at, and continue to think about it.

Carbondale Chasmite said...

For now, I'll commit to the fact that thrownness has within some emotional content inasmuch as it has some assigned interpretations and meanings we enter into.

Neil said...

response to 3) Heidegger thinks that the structure of intentionality pointed out by Husserl applies equally to befindlichkeit. Love is always love of something. Hate is always hate of something. What makes anxiety a "more essential," or rather, a more primordial state-of-mind, is that, in anxiety, one's object of concern is not any entity within the world but Being-in-the-world as a whole. Thus, Heidegger writes that anxiety first discloses the worldhood of the world. Fear and love are secondary to anxiety, not in a temporal, logical, or ethical sense, but in an ontological sense, because the world as a whole must be disclosed before I can comport myself towards entities within the world.

Neil said...

response to 3) Heidegger thinks that the structure of intentionality pointed out by Husserl applies equally to befindlichkeit. Love is always love of something. Hate is always hate of something. What makes anxiety a "more essential," or rather, a more primordial state-of-mind, is that, in anxiety, one's object of concern is not any entity within the world but Being-in-the-world as a whole. Thus, Heidegger writes that anxiety first discloses the worldhood of the world. Fear and love are secondary to anxiety, not in a temporal, logical, or ethical sense, but in an ontological sense, because the world as a whole must be disclosed before I can comport myself towards entities within the world.

Carbondale Chasmite said...

Neil,

It is nice to make your acquaintance. I don't think Heidegger, or your defense of him, can be sustained with respect to the common phenomenological insight that intentional modes take an object. In one of my upcoming chapters, I am making good on Dahlstrom's claim that care and anxiety are derivative. Anxiety concerns the being on a whole, and it "throws" one back upon oneself wholly. I take this to be just a narrow concern of self-love. Moreover, the fundamental mood of human life is not anxiousness/angst. It is love. I have not written this part yet, and I'll perhaps share some thoughts since what I have written here is the basis of a hopefully accepted submission to CUA's philosophy conference on the emotions.