Moods, Will and the Meaning of Being

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It was the philosopher Martin Heidegger (1889-1976) who said in Being and Time (1927) that there are ways of understanding things other than intellectually (Crtichley, 2001).

Before a person has a theoretical reaction, a thought or a thunk (past tense of think), there is an emotional mood. Everyone is always in some sort of mood. Right now your mood could be excited or indifferent, interested or bored.

coffee shopYour mood could be open to enjoyment like a 24 hour diner or closed like a bank after 5 PM. It’s a matter of will and 1-2-3:

  1. will yourself (to enjoy)
  2. take action (or inaction as a wise philosopher would)
  3. happy possibility

The first step is a matter of will. The philosopher Schopenhauer used “will” in the same sense as words like “desire”, “striving” and “wanting”. He held that all nature (including man) is the expression of an insatiable will to life and he thought that it’s through will that mankind finds suffering.

You might think that if desire (or will) is what causes suffering (as a lot of Buddhists do), remove the desire or will and suffering ceases but the desire to remove desire is another desire. You can’t desire not to desire. That’s desire. So the trick is not to desire not to desire (that can’t be done). Use desire to your advantage.

if there's a will there's a wayCounter the view of will = suffering with these simple words of wisdom: Where there’s a will, there’s a way. Will enjoyment. Will a good life. Pay attention to moods. Work with them and don’t deny them.

The way a person sees something is as much determined by one’s mood as it is by what one thinks about what one sees. Moods are first. An image can elicit a happy response or the opposite.

sunsetLet’s say you had an argument. You’re mood is angry and sad. You know life is short. You take action. You go into nature (wherever that happens to be) and you see a sunset.

In an angry mood sunsets are meaningless but if you relax into beauty a bad mood fades. If you think, “This too shall pass,” a sunset that was meaningless becomes sublime. You can become the sunset seeing itself. Stop. Do nothing. It’s a matter of time. Being takes time.

sunsetMoods aren’t just feelings to colour your mental life. Moods are the way each of us experiences life in this world. Moods are connected to our very being.

The biggest question for lots of philosophers, has been the question of the meaning of being a human being (try saying that fast!). The question of the meaning of your being a human being can’t be reduced to a scientific study. How do you explain the meaning of your being?

To Heidegger the basic idea of being is simple: being is time. And time, well, it comes to you with your birth and ends with your death. If you want to understand what it means to be a human being, try projecting your life onto the horizon of your death (Critchley, 2015).

park benchPhilosophy is the love of wisdom. As a philosopher of enjoyment, you are sensitive to the wisdom found in the enjoyment of living – good and bad. For most ancient philosophers including Socrates (or “Socks” as they called him in high school), the wisdom that philosophy taught was how to lead a good human life. For the ancients, a good human life was a happy one.

To be wise, your aim (and will) should be to enjoy being. Why not? Life is a waltz. The waltz of living. Don’t look at your feet. 1-2-3, 1-2-3. 1-2-3. Enjoyment is the thing.

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Published by

Darrel

A Philosopher of Enjoyment.

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