The Ethics of Moods

  • François Raffoul
Part of the Philosophers in Depth book series (PID)


We know the ontological import of moods (Stimmungen) for Heidegger: moods or affective dispositions are not superficial additions to existence, not restricted to our “emotional” lives, not inner subjective feelings, but manifest an ontological truth of Dasein. Moods represent a fundamental feature of existence, which is never without a mood, always situated and disposed in a mood. In addition to the ontological dimension of affective dispositions, and their constitutive role for thinking and for philosophy, I would like in the following chapter to explore the ethical scope of moods. Indeed, I argue that to be in a mood, to be thrown in a mood, engages a certain response, already a responsibility, an ethical relation. It may be objected that moods display a kind of radical opaqueness, withdrawal, and even unintelligibility (one does not know why one is in such or such a mood) that seem to prevent any possible appropriation in an ethical response. I will nonetheless argue that this expropriation precisely calls us to an ethical response, an original responsibility that allows us to speak of an “ethics of moods.” Ultimately, the ethics of moods is a responsibility for finitude itself, for the secret of moods, a being-responsible in which it is a matter, not of overcoming moods, but of assuming their mystery, of respecting their secret, and as it were being their enigma.


Mood Disposition Ethics Responsibility Thrownness 


  1. Agamben, Giorgio. 2002. “The Passion of Facticity.” In Rethinking Facticity, edited by François Raffoul and E. S. Nelson. Albany, NY: SUNY Press.Google Scholar
  2. Derrida, Jacques. 2008. The Gift of Death. Translated by David Wills. Chicago, IL: The University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  3. Sheehan, Thomas. 2018. “But What Comes Before the ‘After’?” In After Heidegger? edited by Gregory Fried and Richard Polt. London and New York: Rowman & Littlefield.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • François Raffoul
    • 1
  1. 1.Louisiana State UniversityBaton RougeUSA

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