Apologies on the late addition. Hopefully it’s not too garbled, and please feel free to discuss anything that strikes your fancy!
Dasein & Authenticity
At first Heidegger says Dasein exists. Sure, sounds great. But that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Heidegger claims that there’s a basic difference between being and existing. Dasein doesn’t JUST exist. It’s that ONLY Dasein exists. Other things, objects like furniture, cars, books, etc., are, but they do not exist in the strict sense of the word. Existence only comes into play with the realization of being. When a being becomes conscious of its own being, it begins to exist.
Dasein is such a being. It is the only being that can do this, cuz by definition Dasein is that which can question its own being.
In addition, Dasein is whatever I happen to be. Dasein is always me, but it means we can only ever talk about Dasein in the first person. This does seems to associate Dasein with the “subject” and its disreputable connotations, but Heidegger is too careful to get stuck with standard philosophical terminology. Thus Dasein cannot be another “subject,” and end up as another artifact of traditional philosophy.
Dasein always exists in either of the following modes: authenticity or non-authenticity, or is indifferent to them. What are these modes? Dasein is its possibilities, because the existence of Dasein becomes determined through its possibilities. These possibilities allow it to choose; thus, it can either choose itself or not. Dasein can also lose itself or never reach itself to begin with, or appear to reach itself but fall short. More interestingly, it is not the case that when Dasein reaches itself, it becomes “authentic.” Rather, the possibility of losing oneself or not becoming/reaching oneself is based on authenticity as well.
It is important to understand that Heidegger explicitly says that non-authenticity is not somehow “lesser” being than authenticity. There are no deficiencies. Being authentic is as important as being non-authentic. Then we should try to find out the authentic being of Dasein.
An authentic piece of art is the actual piece, the original statue, and not the cheap copy in the museum store.
Does that mean Dasein is authentic if it really is Dasein? What makes Dasein Dasein? Best we can tell, Dasein asks about its own being. Does that mean once Dasein is faced with the question of its being, only then is Dasein proper, i.e., authentic? Otherwise, when Dasein isn’t properly demonstrating this mode, is it non-authentic?
It seems to me that Dasein is capable of other things than just asking question about its own being, but what makes it Dasein and separate from other beings, is that precise ability.
In-der-Welt-Sein vs In-Sein
Heidegger throws us off the deep end of Heideggerese with “Being-in-The-World” and “Being-In.” The former is the mode of being of Dasein, i.e., Dasein is in the world. More specifically, in order to understand Dasein, we must understand this being-in-the-world, and Heidegger lists three constituents:
- “In-the-world” This forces us to inquire about the ontological structure of the world, and the concept of worldhood (Weltlichkeit). In order to understand the idea of Dasein that is always is in the world, the concept & nature of world must be understood. If we don’t understand the world that Dasein inhabits, we cannot understand Dasein. Heidegger exhumes the ghost of Kant when he slips and says that being-in-the-world is an a priori form of Dasein. A sort of category for Dasein.
- The being that’s always the way of being-in-the-world. This is the solution to the problem of “who?” Since Dasein is always & only a first person agent then it makes sense to ask who it is rather then what, given that “what” refers to beings that are not Dasein. Just things present-to-hand. Our language demonstrates this distinction by clearly distinguishing between s/he & it.
- Being-in as such. Not much is said, other than the ontological constitution remains hidden.
Tho being-in-the-world can be analyzed, the entire “phenomenon” is always important, for it must be understood as a whole. Basically, constituents themselves are less important than how they relate to one another.
In analyzing the idea of being-in, Heidegger notes that when we talk about present-to-hand beings, that is, ordinary things in the world, their being-in is to be understood as being-in “the world.”
Seems like linguistic sleigh of hand, but these ordinary things are in the world like things are normally within something: a DVD disc in the computer, or my friend at the cigar lounge. Basically this is about the spatial relations of two things, where one thing is spatially related to another. This being is dubbed categorical, for it only fits ordinary objects or Dasein as an ordinary object (such as my cigar smoking buddy when I consider him a “thing” in the lounge rather than a subject).
Being-in proper is something that fits Dasein: it is how Dasein is in the world, and therefore it is existential. This is not to be thought spatially. Heidegger means when Dasein is, it is always a thing that is capable of questioning its own being, and therefore it has a relation to its own being unlike cigars and DVD discs. Since Dasein has this unique relation to its own being, it also has a unique relation to where it is.
When we think of our friends in places, we think of them in a different sense than ordinary things. We recognize that we’re in a particular place, and we can reflect on our being there.
This kind of being that reflects cannot be accounted for by mere spatial determinations. My being in California is not just a matter of location or spatiality, although that is included, but some intersubjective and cultural thing like California that’s based on complex relations between people.
I have a different relationship to being in California than being in a cigar lounge, for example, since I may also think that I am a Californian. Thinking on this further, we will notice ideas such as that I can “be” in California without actually being in California: my heart or my thoughts may be in California. At any rate, the basic notion is that our relation to the place we are in cannot be essentially spatial.
Moreover, being-in is also being in something familiar. In other words, we have a different relation to the things we are in than in the case of computers. This relation is familiar in the sense we have a relation to it.
Heidegger shows how being-in is an existential of Dasein. This being-in is a mode of being for Dasein & it is existential being instead of just mere categorical being, then this existential is related with a category.
Aristotle, for instance claims that categories are the ways in which things are, and Kant says categories are ways in which objects are thought. Then existentials must be the Heideggerian counterparts of categories that are only for present-to-hand-things. Categories, for Heidegger, aren’t sufficient to exhaust the ways Dasein can be or thought.
Here, it gets interesting: Heidegger claims that two things cannot truly touch each other unless they are Dasein. Hmm. The DVD disc cannot truly touch the tray of the DVD drive. According to Heidegger, because the DVD would have to be something to the tray that the tray would face or meet. This seems to be that since they do not have any relation to one another in the same sense we do to things, they cannot meet and thus they cannot touch as well. They may be spatially next to one another, but touching belongs to the relationship in the sense we human beings have relationships with each other.
Heidegger moves quickly from this interesting point to the claim that Dasein’s being in a world is a fact. No biggie. But Heidegger is never mundane. He’s Heidegger! He obviously means the facticity of Dasein. This is a problem of the translation. Heidegger distinguishes two German words that are both translated as fact: Tatasche and Factum. Tatascheapplies to present-to-hand-beings and Factum applies to Dasein.
Thus the difference between a DVD’s existence being a fact and a Dasein’s existence being a fact. Moreover, the fact of Dasein’s existence includes the idea of Dasein being conscious of its existence. Basically, Dasein has a relationship to its own being, as well as a relationship to the world it lives in and this relationship is rather important for Heidegger introduces a new term: Besorgen, or taking care.
Dasein’s being in the world is always laden with this “taking care.” Due to Dasein’s relation to its surrounding, it takes care of it: it deals with another person, produces a thing, cherishes, uses, examines, acts, and so forth. All those actions are taking care, as well as their negations: neglecting or letting go, or abandoning. Taking care is a very inclusive concept.
In §13 we will go in depth on the Exemplification of Being-In, and in §14, the ideas of Worldliness next!