Affective Shifts: Mood, Emotion and Well-Being

Synthese (5-6):1-28 (2021)
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It is a familiar feature of our affective psychology that our moods ‘crystalize’ into emotions, and that our emotions ‘diffuse’ into moods. Providing a detailed philosophical account of these affective shifts, as I will call them, is the central aim of this paper. Drawing on contemporary philosophy of emotion and mood, alongside distinctive ideas from the phenomenologically-inspired writer Robert Musil, a broadly ‘intentional’ and ‘evaluativist’ account will be defended. I argue that we do best to understand important features of these affective shifts – which I document across this paper – in terms of intentional and evaluative aspects of the respective states of moods and emotion. At same the time, the account is pitched at the phenomenological level, as dealing with affective shifts primarily in terms of moods and emotions as experiential states, with respect to which it feels-like-something to be undergoing the relevant affective experience. The paper also applies the intentional-evaluative model of affective shifts to anxiety in more detail, developing the idea that certain patterns of affective shift, particularly those that allow for a kind of ‘emotional release’, can contribute to a subject’s well-being

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Jonathan Mitchell
Cardiff University


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