Exposition of Task of a Preparatory Analysis of Dasein, or Bare-Knuckled Brawl with Dasein
In The first division of part I of Being & Time, Heidegger attempts a transcendental analysis by finding the necessary conditions for some phenomenon – the Dasein – much like Kant did in his Critique where he analyzed objective experience.
He opens the chapter with the first sentence: “we are ourselves the entities to be analyzed.” Where other accounts of western philosophy were beholden to a specific image of the person (experiencing, conscious subject) Heidegger goes behind this image and locate the feature of Dasein that’s responsible.
He lists 2 characteristics: the essence of Dasein is to be, because “existentia is prior over essentia.” IOW its essence is existence, contra Aristotle, which means being involved in the world with activities. However, this doesn’t seem like a metaphysical claim, which is how Sartre read it 20 years later, in 1947 as existence precedes essence. Existence, for Dasein, is activity in which Dasein has the ability to interpret. Interpretation is standing outside of a phenomenon in order to understand it, but Dasein attempts to stand outside of itself in order to understand itself.
The special type of awareness that constitute Dasein is about the self-identity of Dasein: mineness. In order for something to be mine, all I need is the pronoun of “I” to single me out. It doesn’t seem like Heidegger is saying that all Daseins are him, but that of every Dasein, we use a personal pronoun: me, you, her, and so forth.
Dasein is always its own possibility. This possibility isn’t something it owns, for it’s not an object. Dasein is possibility. In the introduction Heidegger says possibility is something that Dasein can be. It is the horizon it sees before itself. I think that I can be an artist. It is possible for me, and it is something that I can reach. I can become an artist, if I chose to.
The totality of these possibilities is Dasein’s possibility. Dasein is in the world with all the desires, dreams, wants, principles. This totality of what Dasein is, is one’s possibility, and it is this totality that determines what the particularDasein is. As long this possibility is defined broad enough – the totality of all that I consider myself to be in relation with – it encompasses the entirety of my subjectivity.
Heidegger introduces a new term: authentic (eigentlich) & inauthentic (uneigentlich). In German they have different aspects: eigentlich means proper, real, true of, whereas Eigenheit means peculiar or singular.
For something to be inauthentic, it’s not being my own. I’m inauthentic when I fail to be in control or others determine my values & beliefs. For something to be authentic I must be self-aware, an activity that is unique toDasein.
Human sciences/Philosophies of Life
In #10 Heidegger distinguishes the analytic of Dasein from the other forms of investigations about humanity, also known as the human sciences. Heidegger claims his analysis is more fundamental than the otherGeisteswissenschaften because the latter assumes or presupposes that Dasein is an object of study.
That is one of the reasons why Heidegger avoids terms like humanity or the human species, because they presuppose a certain characterization. Dasein is unusual because it lacks such philosophical presuppositions.
Then Heidegger goes on to tack his favorite tackling dummy, Descartes, and complains that in his famous Cogito, ergo sum, the “sum” or “I am, I exist” is left unanalyzed. Existence is uniform – irrespective of substances, be it mind, matter. Heidegger in contrast views existence as activity, not a state. To inquire into the being of an entity is to see how it is involved in the world.
Next up at bat are the philosophers of life: Dilthey, Scheler and Husserl. They too emphasize activity over consciousness. Dilthey claimed that the natural sciences could not describe life, and Heidegger agrees because they only describe ONE sense of Dasein’s involvement in the world. Both Dilthey and Scheler weren’t radical enough: they still remained in traditional distinctions of metaphysics. Dilthey took culture as object of study (expression, cultural systems, beliefs constituting meaning). For Heidegger, taking humanity as a substance we can investigate through Das Verstehen is still doing science. Scheler seems to get closer by taking persons not as things substance or objects or psychical objects. Life is the ability to act, & as activity thus life is a dispositional concept. But actions hardly constitute body movements and mental states. Scheler’s model cannot account for the unity of agency. Scheler’s functionalism was a necessary advance, but he didn’t go far enough – being trapped by traditional metaphysical distinctions compromised his methodology.
Heidegger unleashes a mighty handwave in dismissing anthropology, psychology and biology as competent sciences of man. Anthropology is based on two elements: man as rational animal. The relation between rationality & logos is still obscure. If logos isn’t a thing then how can it combine with humans to make them stand out? And secondly, theology conceives man as a transcending beings, but this transcendence is couched in spatial analogies. God made/stamped man in his image/his own being. All this determination of the essence of humanity relies on the metaphysics of presence. Thus, being is mere presence at hand, and never mind the interesting qualities of Dasein, such as its existentialia.
The remaining sciences of humanity all too failed to deal with their ontological presuppositions, and neither do they have the means. Only the fundamental analysis on the existentiality of Dasein can expose the meaning of Being, not through sciences that merely explicate the empirical matters within the framework of existentiality of Dasein.