Dissertation Defense: Francisco Gallegos
Tuesday, April 25 at 3:30pm to 5:30pm
New North, 204 37th and O St., N.W., Washington
Candidate Name: Francisco Gallegos
Advisor: William Blattner, Ph.D.
Title: The Phenomenology of Moods: Time, Place, and Normative Grip
Moods are powerful forces in our lives. When we enter into a mood—such as an anxious, irritable, depressed, bored, tranquil, or cheerful mood—we often find ourselves thinking, feeling, and acting in ways that are out of character. Indeed, a change in mood can alter our space of possibilities, so that, for good or ill, what once seemed inevitable suddenly becomes impossible, while the unimaginable suddenly becomes a reality.
What are moods, then, and how does a change in our mood alter the content and structure of our experience? Despite great interest in the topic of emotions within Anglo-American philosophy, the topic of moods has been relatively neglected. And although the phenomenological tradition offers many insights into affective experience in general, no theorist has attempted to apply these insights to the investigation of moods in their particularity, as a kind of affective phenomenon that is distinct from emotions, temperaments, cultural attitudes, and so on. Thus, the most distinctive and puzzling features of moods have yet to be explained.
This dissertation fills these gaps in the literature. Building on Martin Heidegger’s phenomenology of affective attunement, Matthew Ratcliffe’s phenomenology of major depression, Jorge Portilla’s phenomenology of group practices, and philosophical theories of narrative, I develop a novel account of the way moods affect our experience, both as individuals and as groups. I argue that while emotions are responses to particular objects, moods enact our interpretation of the present situation as a whole. Moods systematically alter our experience of time, place, and normative grip, establishing our sense of what is at stake, here and now. By enacting the situational context of our ongoing experience, moods shape our interpretation of the overall significance of the objects we encounter and influence our emotional responses to them. And in some cases, moods impose a narrative structure onto our experience, leading us to interpret objects and situations in ways that we may later find surprising or problematic.
Thus, by using the tools of phenomenology to analyze the distinctive features of moods, this dissertation offers new insights into an important and relatively neglected topic.
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