Heidegger's anxiety

On the role of mood in phenomenological method

R Matthew Shockey

pp. 1-27

Heidegger’s early project aims to articulate the form of our being as Dasein, and he says that for this usually hidden form to become accessible, a certain kind of “mood” is required of the philosopher. This “ground-mood” he identifies in Sein und Zeit as anxiety. He also, however, presents anxiety as a mood anyone, philosopher or not, experiences when there is some significant breakdown in the living of her life. I argue here that there are largely unrecognized problems with this conflation of methodological and “existential” moods, but that there is nevertheless a compelling methodological account of anxiety that can be teased apart from the existentialist one: methodologically understood, anxiety is a self-affected state of the ontologist, one that results from her asking ontological questions of herself, and, by imagining crisis or breakdown, withdrawing from her determinate situation to a position where she can see the form of her own activity as questioner and imaginer. I draw out some consequences this has for how we should understand the place of ontological understanding in living one’s life, and I conclude by briefly showing how my reading helps us see Heidegger as developing key elements in the work of Descartes and Kant.

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Full citation:

Shockey, R.M. (2016). Heidegger's anxiety: On the role of mood in phenomenological method. Bulletin d'Analyse Phénoménologique 12 (1), pp. 1-27.

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