Date of Award

2010

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

Philosophy

Abstract

Martin Heidegger claims that attunement is one of the primordial ways in which Dasein understands its world. He focuses on anxiety as the fundamental attunement in which Dasein can more authentically uncover its Being. However, it is necessary to ask if anxiety is the only attunement out of which one can most authentically appropriate Being. Heidegger seems to have an unexamined bias in favor of "negative" attunements (anxiety, boredom) and never undertakes an extended analysis of "positive" moods such as joy or happiness. This dissertation is an examination of joy as a fundamental attunement through the works of Henri Bergson and Martin Heidegger. We will focus attention on the common theme of "the nothing" and its place in the ontologies of both philosophers. We will argue that Heidegger's use of anxiety is the result of the place of the nothing in his ontology. In contrast, we will see that Bergson's rejection of the nothing leads to his focus on what he calls the Life of the real. This focus leads to his constant return to joy and its relationship to philosophy and harmony with the real. Heidegger claims that authentic attunement in anxiety is the space in which Dasein can come into nearness with Being. Dasein is able to more authentically experience Being in two modes: meditative thinking and waiting. In order to attain joy, Dasein must first traverse through anxiety and the horror of confronting the abyss of Being. In contrast, Bergson's account of joy does not make joy a derivative experience of humanity, but the grounding attunement out of which humans act creatively and find themselves at home in the world. For Bergson, creation is the mode of being that allows humanity to coincide with that which pushes life forward against the natural forces of degradation and death on earth. Using Nietzsche's ideas about joy, return, and creativity, we link Bergson's ideas about creation and Heidegger's ideas about waiting to the emergence of joy. We show that it is not necessary that one await the emergence of joy after traversing through anxiety. Instead, we ultimately argue that in authentic, creative activity, humans experience a joy that is the foundation from which they have the desire for happiness and the ability to experience happiness.

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