In a neo-phenomenological mood: Stimmungen or atmospheres?




What is a mood (Stimmung) and why has this concept been experiencing a true renaissance in the human sciences? As a consequence of the so-called “affective turn” replacing the linguistic turn, notions like atmosphere (since the 1960s) and Stimmung/mood (in the last decade) actually seem to better explain the qualitative-emotional “more” of our sensible experience. The paper explores the essen-tial terms of today’s debate, starting from its fluctuation between subjectifying approaches and objectifying ones. After debunking two relevant false myths about Stimmung (the untranslatability of the word and the supposed harmonious nature of what it expresses) and suggesting a de-axiologization both of Stimmung/mood and atmosphere, it examines and problematizes the traditional taxonomy of mood characteristics (duration, intensity, ubiquity, unintentionality, pragmatic uncertainty and dispositionality, non-producibility), reviews the similarities and differences between moods and atmospheres (also in the light of Hermann Schmitz’s neo-phenomenology) and suggests in conclusion to conceive any distinction among moods, emotions and atmospheres as the result of a focusing-blurring alternation within the fluid continuum.