Dissertation submitted in fulfillment of the requirements for the Master of Arts in Modern European Philosophy, Middlesex University
Dissertation Supervisor: Stella Sandford
This dissertation constitutes a critical assessment of Heidegger's account of our everyday being-in-the-world as it relates to his critique of rationalism. Philosophy has been dominated by the idea of rationality, not merely as an ideal to attain to, but as the true essence of what is. Heidegger's phenomenology of the everyday, while contributing to a critique of rationalism, does not lead to a greater appreciation of the everyday. Instead, the everyday continues to play a negative role within Heidegger's philosophical project. This assessment of the everyday is shown to have important parallels with rationalism, and to implicate Heidegger's philosophical project in problems similar to those of rationalism. Heidegger continues the search for a more essential understanding of being beyond the complexity of the everyday, and interprets authenticity in opposition to the everyday. By developing Heidegger's phenomenology of the everyday along the lines most relevant to his critique of rationalism, this dissertation takes a critical stance towards those areas which parallel the denigration of the everyday in rationalism, and the problems that arise out of them.
List of Abbreviations
BP Heidegger, Martin. The Basic Problems of Phenomenology Translated by Albert Hofstadter Bloomington & Indianapolis: Indiana University Press, 1982
BW Dreyfus, Hubert. Being-in-the-World Cambridge: MIT Press, 1991
H Heidegger, Martin. Being and Time Translated by John Macquarrie and Edward Robinson Oxford: Blackwell, 1962
HBT Mulhall, Stephen. Heidegger and Being and Time London: Routledge, 1996
HPK Guignon, Charles. B. Heidegger and the Problem of Knowledge Indianapolis: Hackett Publishing Company, 1983
NC Dooyeweerd, Herman. A New Critique of Theoretical Thought Volumes I-IV Translated by David H. Freeman and William S. Young Lewiston: Edwin Mellen Press, 1997
OHF Heidegger, Martin. Ontology--The Hermeneutics of Facticity Translated by John van Buren Bloomington & Indianapolis: Indiana University Press, 1999
PK Polanyi, Michael. Personal Knowledge Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1958
STH Heidegger, Martin. Being and Time Translated by Joan Stambaugh Albany: State University of New York Press, 1996
In Being and Time Heidegger challenges the preoccupation of modern philosophy with questions of epistemology. He achieves this by way of a phenomenology of the everyday. The everyday is that which is closest to us, our natural, common, uncomplicated stance or comportment within the environment we find ourselves. Traditionally the everyday is denigrated as vague or even illusory; at best, the raw material that needs to be ordered into real knowledge, at worst an obstacle in the way of truth. In contrast theory holds the key to the secrets of reality, through reason we can know that which is most essential, that which truly is. Heidegger seems to start from the more moderate position, making the everyday the starting point for his investigation into the meaning of Being. We must start with the everyday because this is where we are. As Heidegger develops his phenomenology of the "where we are" called Da-sein (Being-there), it becomes apparent that our being-there-in-the-world has a complex structure. In order to avoid confusing Dasein with one aspect of this complexity Heidegger focuses on Dasein in its most undifferentiated state, that is it's everyday state. This helps clarify that which precedes, and makes possible, more definite modes of being such as theoretical thought. There is then the possibility of rethinking the troubled relation between everyday experience and theoretical thought.
It is the sense of "making possible" where Heidegger's phenomenology of the everyday becomes particularly interesting. This is because it is here where Heidegger's critique of rationalism is at it strongest. The perspective of theory is not wrong in itself, but rationalism ignores that which makes all knowing possible, and so what makes theory as one kind of knowing possible. Heidegger's claim that Descartes overlooked the phenomenon of the world, is based on the thought that reality as normally experienced is the necessary horizon that gives sense to Descartes search for knowledge.
Philosophy, being theoretical in character, has paid considerable attention to the phenomenon of rationality and theoretical activity. In privileging its own discourse over others, philosophy has tended towards rationalism. Rationalism is here to be understood in a broad sense as any position where our theoretical ability is raised to the level of essentiality, that is where the basic concepts of a philosophy - truth, being, knowing, the human person, God, etc. - are thought of as essentially rational. The search for an essential knowing always starts by disqualifying or ignoring the complexity of the everyday. Empiricism is in this case not to be thought of as the opposite of rationalism for it reduces experience to sense data, or sense impressions and still privileges scientific knowing. In focusing on our Being-in-the-world through the everyday, Heidegger gains a clearer insight into the specificity of theory as an expression of one aspect of the complexity of Dasein.
We will see however that Heidegger has a tendency to reduce the everyday to one of its aspects, and to privilege certain kinds of experience as revelatory of a deeper understanding of Being. Finally he also views the everyday in negative terms as a distorting influence which obscures and covers over the deeper truth of Being. The argument of this essay is to show how these two themes are connected, and how they implicate Heidegger in the same logic that infuses rationalism. By drawing from Heidegger's emphasis on the everyday and his critique of rationalism, we shall show how he fails to apply the lessons of his critique of rationalism to his own philosophical endeavours. In conclusion we seek to persuade the reader that a more positive account of the everyday allows us a greater sensitivity to the richness of experience and a greater caution to speculative philosophy without denying a legitimate place to theory.
Our first chapter elaborates what Heidegger means by Being-in-the-world, and how this complex structure sets the stage for his critique of rationalism. Heidegger focuses his critique by employing the term "present-at-hand" to capture the limitations of a theoretical understanding of Dasein. It is perhaps not surprising that in trying to cover a multitude of sins, this term can be read in different ways. Despite our appreciation of Heidegger's preliminary description of the everyday in the way it reveals the world as meaningful and contextual in contrast to rationalism, it has important limitations. The phenomenological richness of everyday experience gets stuck in the mold of what Heidegger call readiness-to-hand. A greater attention to the diversity of experience
In chapter two the focus shifts to Heidegger's critique of rationalism. This puts into sharp focus the way the everyday, as a rich and complex phenomenon, both precedes theory, and raises questions about its ability to represent the fullness of reality. Once the assumption that theory reveals reality in a more reliable way than the everyday has been questioned, the self-evidence of the ontologies of subject and object becomes suspect and the door is open for a deeper understanding of the complexity of reality. Heidegger aims his critique at modern philosophy, and in particular the philosophy of Rene Descartes, as particularly illustrative of "present-at-hand ontologies". It is at this point where it begins to become apparent that there is a deep ambiguity in Heidegger's attitude towards the everyday. In the final section of this chapter we begin to develop our central criticism of Heidegger, by showing that his concern with the question of being structures his thought in a way that has certain analogies with rationalism.
The third chapter leads us to the crux of our argument where Heidegger's notions of authenticity and inauthenticity are shown to undo any positive appreciation of the everyday. The very idea that our everyday being-in-the-world provides the condition for the possibility of Dasein in all its projects, understandings and involvements is undone by opposing the everyday and authenticity, which is conceived crucially in terms of Dasein's possibilities. In his discussion of Being-with and the "they" it becomes particularly acute that Heidegger has turned the conditions of possibility, into the limitations and constraints that make authenticity such a struggle. There then arises the problem of the very possibility of authenticity, and from this impasse Heidegger has no escape. The very conditions that make Dasein possible have been lined up against authenticity, and so the suspicion arises that Heidegger has overlooked our being-in-the-world and sought, once more, a leverage over the everyday to reach a transcendental position not unlike that of rationalism.
The fourth and last chapter brings together the themes of theory and the everyday to see how their relation could be more productively understood. The critique of rationalism and the question of doing justice to the richness of everyday experience are seen as part of this discussion to which Heidegger has fruitfully contributed.
This chapter gives a preliminary orientation to the phenomenon of the everyday, as Heidegger develops this within the structure of Being-in-the-world. In attempting to characterize the everyday in relation to theory, it makes sense to first distinguish the two by saying that the everyday is non-theoretical. It should be noted that this formulation is not without its problems. If we add that theory is non-everyday, this will at least indicate that our understanding of the everyday is not unduly determined by its relation to theory. This danger is noted by Heidegger when he writes that "even practical behaviour has been understood as behaviour that is "non-theoretical" and "atheoretical"" (H.59). In distinguishing the everyday and theory there arises the further difficulty of how the two are related. By the fourth chapter we will be in a better position to deal with these problems and offer a more nuanced understanding of what is here sketched in an elementary manner.
Heidegger's preliminary description of the everyday highlights the contextual nature of our world. By showing how this characterizes our normal experience it becomes apparent that theory, as abstractive, presupposes this experience from which it de-contextualizes. This criticism is mainly developed by Heidegger in his discussion of presence-at-hand, which is unable to account for our involvement with things and more importantly with the kind of being which we ourselves are. By emphasizing the latter, Heidegger leaves his criticism incomplete in an important respect, the consequence of which is that there opens up a sharp separation between Dasein and all others beings. We shall show that Heidegger's description of the everyday is also not without problems, for it is dominated by his analysis of readiness-to-hand which overshadows other important facets of the everyday.
Heidegger is meticulous in the way he introduces the project of Being and Time. After raising the question of Being, he tackles three prejudices that block the way to taking seriously the necessity of this question. He then analyses the structure of questioning itself, before turning to consider the kind of being which asks questions. At this point he is unwilling to fall into the traditional interpretations of what it means to be human, and so he employs the word Dasein to refer to whatever will turn out to be the being for which the question of being is an issue. It is a distinctive and definitive characteristic of Dasein that “we always conduct our activities in an understanding of Being” (H4-5). Although the question of Being is rarely thematized, an understanding of Being is implicit in everything we do, as Heidegger points out “everything we talk about, everything we have in view, everything towards which we comport ourselves in any way, is being; what we are is being, and so is how we are” (H.6-7). This everyday understanding of Being is vague and indefinite, yet it is a positive phenomenon through which Heidegger seeks to make explicit Dasein's comportment towards the question of being.
Heidegger's focus on the average everyday emphasizes Dasein as involved in, rather than detached from, its world. This focus is designed to upset the “dogmatic constructions” and “categories” that philosophy has forced upon Dasein (H16) by taking one mode of Dasein's being, the theoretical mode, and interpreting everything else in its terms without giving consideration to the fundamental question of Being. Heidegger considers Descartes to be a clear example of this, for having provided a starting point for philosophy in the “cogito sum” he investigates the “cogito” without providing any reflection on the “sum” (H.46). In opposition to such a method Heidegger claims we must “choose such a way of access and such a kind of interpretation that this entity can show itself in itself and from itself”, and so Dasein must be analysed in its “average everydayness” (H.16). It is important to see that Dasein's average everydayness is not an aspect of Dasein but “the undifferentiated character which it has proximally and for the most part” (H.43). In the same way that fundamental ontology, as the enquiry into the meaning of being, "must precede the positive sciences" (H.10) which focus on specific ontical spheres so, the analytic of Dasein comes before any anthropological, psychological or biological interpretation of Dasein. Heidegger's focus on the everyday follows this structure of giving priority to that which comes first. There is a sense in which the whole comes before its parts and so the analytic of Dasein requires that we avoid using certain terms because they "name definite areas of phenomena" (H.46). Heidegger's concern with questions of being has a very positive impact in the way that the different kinds of being that we experience are not reduced to an epistemological framework. However we shall see later that his concern with the meaning of being seeks a more speculative idea of being behind our normal experience.
By starting with the everyday Heidegger is determined to do justice to the unity of the interwoven multiplicity of human experience. It is this unity that Heidegger seeks to capture by describing Dasein as Being-in-the-world, and which is missed in the long honoured distinction between subject and object. In 1923 Heidegger stated emphatically: "This schema must be avoided: what exists are subjects and objects, consciousness and being", the idea that consciousness as an "I think" stands opposite present-at-hand objects misses the unitary and fundamental phenomenon of being-in-the-world. As Dreyfus has made clear, to claim that Heidegger has broken with an overemphasis on the theoretical by emphasising the practical is to miss Heidegger's more fundamental break with the philosophical tradition by questioning the primacy of the subject-object distinction.
Dasein's character of "Being-in" is unlike some present-at-hand thing being spatially in some other present-at-hand thing space can be categorial, "as water is "in" the glass, the dress is "in" the closet", rather, Dasein's existential mode of being-in is more like dwelling in a familiar environment (H.54). In discussing the expression "the chair 'touches' the wall" Heidegger draws out the positive character of encountering (understandingly) which the word "touching" implies with respect to Dasein but not in relation to chairs and tables (H.55). Dasein's relation to the world is not extrinsic and accidental, but intrinsic and so part of what it means to be Dasein. Dasein is essentially worldhooded. That Dasein can encounter present-at-hand entities is based on Dasein's being-in-the-world.
Heidegger characterizes Dasein's Being towards the world as concern
(H.57). The world should not be understood as "those entities which Dasein essentially is not and which can be encountered within-the-world, but rather as that 'wherein' a factical Dasein as such can be said to 'live'." (H.65). Rather than an isolated subject somehow detached from, yet related to, the world, Dasein is always already in the world, always already involved. Heidegger discards the rather fantastic descriptions of our experience of the world that philosophy comes up with about material things with such and such a weight, colour, shape etc., instead he insists that “the nearest kind of association is not mere perceptual cognition, but, rather, a handling, using, and a taking care of things which has its own kind of `knowledge' ” (emphasis added STH.67). Knowledge is not then restricted to the sphere of rational propositions, a lack of thematization does not mean a lack of understanding. Perhaps in critique of Kant, Heidegger holds that without concepts we are not blind, rather “association which makes use of things ... has its own way of seeing” (STH.69). This way of seeing, unique to our normal competence over everyday situations and activities is called by Heidegger circumspection.
Heidegger talks of being-in-the-world in order to indicate the unitary phenomenon of our normal everyday experience that comes before subjects and objects can be distinguished. This preliminary examination of the everyday shows that the everyday as non-theoretical stands in relation to theory as something that is prior. We must now turn to explore how Heidegger develops his understanding of the everyday through what he calls the ready-to-hand, but first we shall look at that which Heidegger contrasts with it, the present-at-hand.
Heidegger warns us about all concepts of the self that view it as the unchanging centre of multiplicity, the self as subjectum. Such an interpretation conceives Dasein as having as its central essence something present-at-hand (a self), which is "the mode of being of beings unlike Da-sein" (STH.115). In contrast to this, and so in opposition to modern ontology, Dasein's "selfhood must be conceived existentially" (H.318). Heidegger here talks about the present-at-hand as a "mode of being", and while he is surely correct in arguing against reducing Dasein to such a mode of being, there arises some question about what the term present-at-hand (vorhandenheit) means, and how it functions in Heidegger's philosophy. Does this indicate a latent dualism in Heidegger? He speaks of existentials and categories as "two fundamental possibilities of the characteristics of being" (H.45) and claims that the two are "essentially ontologically different" (H.55). This distinction is between a who, existence, and a what, presence-at-hand in the broadest sense (H.45). But such a distinction sets Dasein over against all that is not Dasein. Even if we ignore the strong resemblance with the subject-object schema it remains dubious as to whether the category of presence-at-hand can cover all entities unlike Dasein.
To get our question into focus we shall explore the way in which Heidegger wishes to distinguish Dasein from the present-at-hand. He points out that Dasein is alongside other entities in a way different from, say, a chair. While a chair may be propped up against a wall, the chair does not, strictly speaking, touch the wall. The chair does not encounter the wall (H.55). This is because the chair lacks a knowing or understanding relation to the wall. Dasein in contrast always encounters its world, Dasein cannot escape the world, it is being-in-the-world and as such it is world-hooded. Dasein is essentially 'there' in the world. It is only a Da-sein, a being that is in its 'there', for which the world can become disclosed and so encounterable.
An entity present-at-hand within the world can be touched by another entity only if by its very nature the latter entity has Being-in as its own kind of Being - only if, with its Being-there [Da-sein], something like the world is already revealed to it, so that from out of that world another entity can manifest itself in touching, and thus become accessible in its Being-present-at-hand (H.55).
According to Heidegger then, present-at-hand entities are touchable. Even if they themselves are unable to touch they can become an object for touch. While walls are not encounterable for chairs, both walls and chairs are encounterable. This suggests that it is entities outside of any intrinsic involvement with Dasein that are present-at-hand. However there is a sense in which Heidegger relates the present-at-hand with theory, that is, with one way in which Dasein is involved in the world. But we must notice that while theory is a way that Dasein is involved in the world, it tends to abstract this involvement from its view so that it gives us entities which are apparently detached from any involvement with Dasein. In this way the two senses of "present-at-hand" seem to come together and it becomes clear why Heidegger sees such danger in theorizing about Dasein, which could never be understood in abstraction from our involvements.
It is interesting that in order to maintain Dasein's distinctiveness, vis-à-vis presence-at-hand, Heidegger finds it necessary to distinguish Dasein's Being-in from "the Being-present-at-hand of some corporeal Thing (such as a human body)" (H.54). It is not clear whether Heidegger views the body as present-at-hand, but his understanding of our involved being-in-the-world demands that more attention should be paid to our bodily being-there.
Before we can start suggesting how Heidegger's understanding of being-in-the-world could be enriched, we must look more closely at his deployment of the term ready-to-hand in describing our everyday existence. Having shown that our understanding of Being is usually and for the most part not theoretical, Heidegger goes on to describe our everyday Being-in-the-world in terms of Dasein's involvement with equipment. Useful things always exist within an equipmental totality in which each useful thing can be what it is. A useful thing is essentially “something in order to...” (H.68). This contextual structure of “in order to...” is referential because each equipment essentially belongs to, and therefore refers to, a totality of equipment, for "taken strictly, there 'is' no such thing as an equipment" (H.68). Heidegger gives the example "ink-stand, pen, ink, paper, blotting pad, table, lamp, furniture, windows, doors, room" (H.68). Commenting on Fichte's instruction to "think the wall, and then think the one who thinks the wall", Heidegger writes that:
there is already a constructive violation of the facts, an unphenomenological onset, in the request "Think the wall." For in our natural comportment towards things we never think a single thing, and whenever we seize upon it expressly for itself we are taking it out of a contexture to which it belongs in its real content: wall, room, surroundings. The request "Think the wall" ... is saying: Make yourselves blind to what is already given to you in the very first place (BP.162).
Because equipment always has what Heidegger calls an "in-order-to" structure, it has the character of assignment or reference [verweisung](H.68). This means that Dasein's Being-in-the-world, "amounts to a non-thematic circumspective absorption in references or assignments constitutive for the readiness-to-hand of a totality of equipment."(H.76). Dasein is always already familiar with the world and on this basis, always already concernfully involved in its projects. Because this "always already" is the condition for everything that Dasein does - including theory - it is rarely noticed, so Heidegger characterizes it as non-thematic and absorbed rather than detached.
By viewing our engaged involvement with useful things as a more primordial layer of experience than a detached theoretical view, Heidegger fundamentally changes our ontological perspective. As Dreyfus argues:
Heidegger proposes to demonstrate that the situated use of equipment is in some sense prior to just looking at things and that what is revealed by use is ontologically more fundamental than the substances with determinate, context-free properties revealed by detached contemplation.
Instead of an isolated subject related to discrete objects, Dasein is immersed in a world which is experienced as a significant whole. This allows Heidegger to demonstrate two important aspects of our everyday activity.
1. The meaningful, contextual nature of Dasein's world, and, Dasein's relation to the world. Heidegger challenges the philosophical attempt to analyse the world into so many essences, substances, or synthesized impressions before reconstructing the world into a rational system. Instead Heidegger talks of the world in terms of a "referential totality" (H.76), a "totality of involvements", or a "context of assignments or references" (H.87). As Richard Polt has indicated: "the phenomenon of reference is crucial to understanding worldhood". Heidegger though, is concerned that because "relations are always "something thought"" the being of innerworldly beings are thereby dissolved into "pure thought" (STH.88). He asks, without answering, "has not the 'substantial Being' of entities within-the-world been volatilized into a system of Relations?" (H.87)
2. That Dasein should not be understood as primarily a thematizing (rational) being, but that rationality is only part of what it means to be a Dasein, and only becomes determinative in a secondary and specialized kind of activity. In using tools Dasein “neither grasps these beings thematically as occurring things nor does it even know of using or the structure of useful things as such” (STH.69).
Heidegger is, however, in danger of equating the everyday with “useful activity”. For example, when nature is encountered by Dasein within the sphere of the everyday it is not present-at-hand; “the forest is a forest of timber, the mountain a quarry of rock, the river is water power, the wind is wind “in the sails”” (STH.70). This interpretation of the forest, mountain, river and wind suffers from being dictated by the terms of the ready-to-hand. The forest is certainly not just there, present-at-hand for Dasein, but neither can it be reduced to timber. If we follow Heidegger a little further it becomes apparent that his purpose is to loosen the grip of the scientific interpretation of the world as the only valid one. He points out that science does not deal with the concrete reality of the world as we normally experience it, “the botanists' plants are not the flowers of the hedgerow” (H.70), neither is the nature discovered in science the nature that “overcomes us, entrances us as landscape” (STH.70). But while Heidegger makes constant reference to a variety of non-theoretical experience - here he evokes, for example, a romantic-aesthetic experience of nature - in practice he reduces the complex phenomena of the everyday to the ready-to-hand. To do justice to such complexity we should view the ready-to-hand as only one aspect of the everyday, though certainly a foundational one. By saying that the ready-to-hand is only an aspect we mean to indicate that such phenomena as language, Being-with other Daseins and our perceptual awareness of things are also integrally interwoven in what constitutes our everyday experience. Each of these seem to play a foundational role for more specialized kinds of activity such as science and art.
To be fair, Heidegger does build on his analysis of the ready-to-hand in a more promising way in his discussion of language. In Heidegger's analysis of the ready-to-hand the phenomenon of reference became visible, although only in a preliminary way, as constitutive of worldliness (H.76). In order to clarify this phenomenon, Heidegger turns to a certain type of useful things which he calls `signs' (H.77). Signs are useful things which consist in indicating (H.77). Heidegger recognizes a rich variety of signs such as symptoms, marks, hallmarks, traces, residues, monuments, certificates, symbols, expressions, appearances, significations, which demonstrate a referential connection between signs and other modes of being. Heidegger gives the example of a moveable arrow used by cars. As a sign which has the character of indicating it is to be distinguished from the serviceability that characterizes a hammer (merely a useful thing H.78-81). We are then, dealing with something different from, though connected with, the ready-to-hand. The indicating character of something is not just added to it in an alien way, as “value attached”, it is a possibility built into things, the farmer discovers the south wind as a omen of bad weather (H.80). Signs are useful things with a definite function, they make the environment "explicitly accessible for circumspection” in its readiness-to-hand (H.82).
Reference is revealed in both readiness-to-hand and in language, however its importance transcends both for it is “the ontological “presupposition” of what is at hand ...[and is] ... at the same time constitutive of worldliness in general” (STH.83). The idea of reference as constitutive of worldliness will need to be developed in terms of the inter-relations between modes of being as well as the connectedness of entities. Being-in-the-world as a coherence of references will provide the critical background for our analysis of Heidegger's concern with the meaning of being. But first we will see how it serves us in confronting the legacy of rationalism.
In this chapter we concentrate on Heidegger's critique of rationalism. This puts into sharp focus the way the everyday, as a rich and complex phenomenon, both precedes theory, and raises questions about its ability to represent the fullness of reality. Once the assumption that theory reveals reality in a more reliable way than the everyday has been questioned, the self-evidence of the ontologies of subject and object become suspect and the door is open for a deeper understanding of the complexity of reality. However Heidegger uses the everyday both as a critical tool against the abstractionism of rationalism, and as the explanation for why such ontologies have a natural persuasiveness. That the everyday is perceived to play this negative role, coupled with his quest for the meaning of being, leads Heidegger to repeat rationalism's disregard for the everyday in searching for a more essential experience of being.
Dasein's everyday being-in-the-world shows up the world as a meaningful, significant and intelligible whole. By explaining things in terms of the natural sciences, rationalism abstracts from the richness of everyday experience. While theory is rightly abstractive, decontextualising what it takes as its object for the purpose of analysis, rationalism illegitimately takes this abstract view as revealing the truth of things and so interprets the richness of human experience in a reductive manner. The attempt to put all the abstracted objects back together in order to construct a rational picture of the world is doomed to failure, for as Heidegger notes; once the unitary phenomenon of the world gets interpreted in terms of present-at-hand entities then the resulting splitting-up of the phenomenon leaves "no prospect of putting it together again from the fragments." (H.132). Heidegger's judgement on rationalism is that it overlooks the phenomenon of the world. Only by beginning with our undifferentiated everyday experience can we see the unitary phenomenon of being-in-the-world.
This is not an easy task because the everyday, what philosophy has often called "common sense", has itself been misinterpreted by traditional philosophy.
Traditional ontology has always sought to understand the everyday world by finding something on the level of the occurrent [present-at-hand], such as substance, sense data, or representations in transcendental consciousness, that is supposed to be intelligible without reference to anything else, and then to show how everything else can be seen to be intelligible because it is built up out of these self-sufficient elements. (BW.122)
Our understanding of Being, however, is so pervasive and embodied that it cannot be analysed as if it were a system of consciously held beliefs. This is because Being is not conceptual and so cannot be encompassed within a conceptual system. Instead our understanding of Being is primarily a tacit dimension of our embodied being-in-the-world. Polanyi writes that "we have no clear knowledge of what our presuppositions are and when we try to formulate them they appear quite unconvincing ... we may be said to dwell in them as we do our own body ... they are essentially inarticulable" (PK.59-60). Because we are already in this understanding and not separate from it, the question of being is inextricably linked to the being of the questioner. As our first chapter has made clear Dasein does not simply occur among other beings, but dwells understandingly in a meaningful environment. Even Dasein's scientific knowing is personal, as Polanyi has shown, it has its roots in "the subsidiary awareness of our body as merged in our focal awareness of external objects" (PK.60).
The ambiguity that we saw earlier in Heidegger between understanding presence-at-hand as one way that Dasein can relate to beings, and as characterizing all entities that are not Dasein, takes a new turn in his critique of rationalism. With this new turn a deep ambivalence towards the everyday, and indeed being-in-the-world, begins to announce itself. Dasein is both essentially different to the kind of entities that it encounters in the world and also, for the most part, absorbed concernfully with those entities. This means, according to Heidegger, that Dasein "gets its ontological understanding of itself in the first instance from those entities which it itself is not but which it encounters 'within' its world, and from the Being which they possess" (H.58). The being which they possess is 'presence-at-hand' with its close connection to theory, and so the misunderstandings that rationalism is based on are generated by Dasein's entanglement with the world.
However, Heidegger's ambiguity over the present-at-hand means that another explanation is possible. For such misunderstandings have dominated the history of philosophy by the way it has privileged rational knowing as the primary mode of Being-in-the-world. That rational knowing has been privileged is due to the fact that in trying to explicate Dasein's relation to the world "the knowing which such a task explicitly implies takes itself (as a knowing of the world [Welterkennen]) as the chief exemplification of the 'soul's' relationship to the world." (H.59). Here the theoretical mode of relating to the world, in dominating the activity of seeking a rational explanation for Dasein's relatedness to the world, becomes mistaken for that relatedness. This means that Being-in-the-world becomes understood "as a 'relationship' between one entity (the world) and another (the soul)" so that the problematic of the 'subject-object' relationship becomes the self assured basis of all epistemologies (H.59). By interpreting human knowing in terms of a subject that knows objects, traditional epistemology falls into unsolvable problems because of the gap that opens up between subject and object. How can the subject get “outside” itself in order to reach the object? The skepticism that is the inevitable result of such a starting point, instead of leading to the rejection of the subject-object schema seems to reinforce the urgency of the epistemological project. This is however a pseudo-question because Dasein “is always already “outside” together with some being encountered in the world already discovered” (STH.62).
In The Basic Problems of Phenomenology Heidegger raises serious questions about the exclusivity of the subject-object relation in understanding Dasein's relation to the world. While every object [gegenstand] requires a subject to stand over-against, there is no need to think that every natural being must be an object [gegenstand]. Conversely the subject as apprehender requires an object, but is the subject necessarily always an apprehender? Once these questions have been raised the subject-object relation loses its totalizing grip on our understanding of reality, and the question of the mode of being of this relation can no longer be evaded. What Heidegger's questioning points out is the specificity of the subject-object relation as being only one kind of relation between actual beings. However, while Heidegger is always asking after the mode of being of things, he never considers the mode of being of relations. He argues that:
beginning with a subject-object relation obstructs access to the real ontological question regarding the mode of being of the subject as well as the mode of being of the entity that may possibly but does not necessarily have to become an object (BP.157).
Heidegger sets us looking for the mode of the subject and the mode of the object, but does this do justice to the complexity and unitary nature of being-in-the-world, or does it not maintain a problematic opposition between subject and object?
Descartes is a crucial figure in the development of rationalism in modern philosophy because of the way he conceived the subject-object relation. Heidegger's discussion focuses on Descartes' interpretation of the world which points to extension as the basic ontological determination of the world. However Heidegger notes that his critique of Descartes' on this point should be grounded in a "phenomenological de-structuring of the cogito sum" (STH.89).
According to Heidegger, Descartes' interpretation of the world "led him to pass over the phenomenon of the world" (STH.95). For Descartes, "mathematical knowledge is regarded as the one way of apprehending being which can always be certain of the same possession of the being of the beings which it apprehends." (STH.95). In this way the being of the world is "dictated to it in terms of a definite idea of being which is embedded in the concept of substantiality and in terms of an idea of knowledge ... the way to get a grip of what truly is has been decided in advance" (STH.96). Heidegger criticizes Descartes analysis of resistance for missing the phenomenon of perception and translating it into "the only kind of being that he knows", the present-at-hand (H.97). Instead of analysing the rich modes of being apparent in everyday experience, Descartes takes one of those modes (which is understood as present-at-hand) and makes it the dominant idea of being out of which all the other modes of being are to be constructed. So Descartes "forced the ontology of the "world" into the ontology of a particular innerworldly being" (STH.98). Descartes could reduced the world to one of its modes only on the basis of our ability to isolate such modes from its connection with the rest of reality.
The clearly reductionistic character of Descartes' ontology can be seen in his use of the concept of substance. He writes, for example, that "there is always one principal property of substance which constitutes its nature and essence, and on which all the others depend". Descartes argues that extension is this principal property because it is presupposed by all the other properties. While this may be true, although it is doubtful if the property of discrete quantity presupposes extension, it in no way proves that everything is therefore reducible to a mode of extension. Xeno's famous paradox may in fact show the contrary: that movement, while certainly presupposing extension, cannot be reduced to it. In fact Descartes' demonstration amounts to nothing more than showing that it is possible to abstract all other properties of a thing to leave only the property of extension, but why should this process of abstraction be thought of as revealing true reality? Does it not rather ignore a good portion of that reality in order to focus on one of its basic properties?
The rationalist however is committed to the assumption that abstraction leads us to the true reality that underlies everyday experience. While this assumption cannot be proved false, it can be shown that it ignores important phenomena. As Heidegger points out "the idea of being from which the ontological characteristics of the res extensa are derived is substantiality" (STH.92). The idea of substantiality sees the world as made up of essentially independent beings which need not be understood in their relation to each other. Substances as independent, things in themselves, lack an inter-dependence with Dasein and so cannot account for the wholeness or coherence of reality. Heidegger's analysis of the everyday shows us that reality confronts us as something which holds together in a complexity of inter-relations. However, as we shall see later, Heidegger also has a much more critical account of the everyday which suggests that there is a deeper reality which remains concealed, and covered over by Dasein's everyday involvement in the world. It maybe that Heidegger's concern with the question of being still keeps him too close to the traditional concept of substance in the way that being is thought to underlie normal experience. In ancient philosophy being was thought of as the ultimately real and rational source of all meaning. The changing sensory world of becoming and decay received its derivative reality from this rational source, whether thought of as Platonic forms in another more real world, or as rational and essential forms which are immanent to the changing world. Heidegger continues this negative judgement of the everyday as superficial and mistaken. After Kant the distinction is made between the free transcendental consciousness and determined nature, where nature as meaningless, assumes meaning through its relation to value which has its origin in the subject. While Heidegger clearly rejects an ontology of objects plus values his distinction between Dasein and non-Dasein is sometimes drawn in a way that closely parallels this problematic ontology.
Heidegger's criticism of "the thesis of modern ontology" (BP.122) is that although modern ontology (Descartes onward) has the subject as its primary orientation it failed to break with ancient philosophy in interpreting the being of nature (presence-at-hand) as "the ontologically exemplary entity" (BP.123). Because modern philosophy has not been "fundamental-ontological" in its orientation to the subject, it has failed to "pose the question of the being of the subject" and "even interprets the subject's being under the guidance of the concept of being and its pertinent categories as developed by ancient and medieval philosophy" in other words present-at-hand categories (BP.124).
The object as present-at-hand has, according to Heidegger, dominated all interpretation of being whether it has given primacy to the subject or to the object. Having questioned the dominance of the subject-object relation, Heidegger has opened up the possibility of seeing this relation as the result of one mode of being which neither exhausts the being of Dasein nor the being of the so called natural world. But how decisively has Heidegger broken from a traditional understanding of being? Is it perhaps that Heidegger maintains a speculative idea of "an original idea of being in general" to which the "multiplicity of ways of being" must be subordinated? To be sure, Heidegger rejects the failed attempts of finding a rational unity at the heart of being, but it remains for him an urgent question "how must we determine the being of the being that we ourselves are, mark it off from all being of beings not of the type of Dasein, but yet understand it by way of the unity of an original concept of being?" (BP.154). Despite his rejection of all rationalistic understandings of being, Heidegger nevertheless thinks of being as distinct from and prior to meaning (with its diversity), being is still thought of as having greater reality and truth than the everyday which in its falling, flees the unheimlich character of being.
Given that Dasein exists primarily in the everyday the question arises as to how being is to break through the distortions of the everyday to make an understanding of the meaning of being possible. Whereas rationalism seeks the solution in reason Heidegger takes the mood of anxiety as that which leads us out of the everyday to the essence of being. Despite this radical difference Heidegger's analysis of the mood of anxiety reveals a world not dissimilar to that revealed by rationalism, it is a world stripped of meaning and significance. Anxiety is the mood in which Dasein faces the unsettling truth of the groundlessness of Being, a truth which we tend to flee. Richardson argues that the everyday is used by Heidegger to deflate the pretensions of epistemology, but that anxiety in the form of phenomenology has "the positive and all-important task of moving us beyond both everydayness and traditional philosophy to a third position ... 'authenticity'". In this way Richardson gives the everyday an ambivalent position which "can both be used as a standard for judging epistemological claims, yet also be criticised and resisted." The everyday must be resisted because it is characterized by "falling" which is a flight from the burden of Dasein's throwness, a flight from itself into that which other than Dasein. On Richardson's reading the internal view of the everyday must give way to the external view that is made possible by the mood of anxiety.
The unsettling [unheimlich] character of Being is referred to by Heidegger as our "guilt" which reveals to us two nullities: "Being-guilty belongs to Dasein's Being, and signifies the null Being-the-basis of a nullity" (H.305). These two nullities are the contingent nature of Dasein in its throwness and its projection. Why is it that Heidegger uses the terminology of nullities? Heidegger is both very attentive to the use of language, avoiding certain terms and developing an original vocabulary, yet quite careless in employing some terms which have meanings from which he clearly wishes to disassociate. To speak of nullities, one would normally think, is to presuppose an ontological deficiency matched against some pure state of being uncontaminated by the worldliness of Dasein. Heidegger is however emphatic in his disclaimers; the nullities do not have "the ontic property of being "unsuccessful" or "of no value"" (H.285), "Existential nullity by no means has the character of a privation, of a lack as compared with an ideal which is set up but is not attained in Dasein", nullity is not something that Dasein "could get rid of if it made sufficient progress" (H.285). The justification for disavowing such connotations is that privation or lack is supposed to work at a purely ontical level whereas the nullities are ontological, they existentially constitute "the structure of being" (H.285).
Heidegger though himself points out the dangers of negative characterizations. Such terms as non-theoretical are said to over-determine that against which you are supposed to be making the contrast; in this instance the theoretical (H.59). The question to ask then is: What does Heidegger's language of nullity place as the determinative factor? If not an ontical deficiency, then against what is Dasein understood as null? When we examine that to which Heidegger applies the term nullity, viz. Dasein as thrown projection, we see that it is our contingent situatedness that causes Heidegger to talk of nullities. Dasein as always already thrown, is beyond our control, and yet it is on this "null-basis" that we project into the future.
In being a basis - that is, in existing as thrown - Dasein constantly lags behind its possibilities. It is never existent before its basis, but only from it and as this basis. Thus 'Being-a-basis' means never to have power over one's ownmost Being from the ground up. This 'not' belongs to the existential meaning of 'thrownness' (H.284).
The ends towards which we project are also contingent in being only a few of the possibilities open to us among many others, so on the null-basis of throwness we project into a contingent future; the second nullity.
In having a potentially-for-Being [Dasein] always stands in one possibility or another: it constantly is not other possibilities, and it has waived these in its existentiell projection. Not only is the projection, as one that has been thrown, determined by the nullities of Being-a-basis; as projection it is itself essentially null. (H.285).
It would seem that Heidegger is playing off contingency as null with respect to necessity. It is difficult not to see here a contrast between Dasein as a contingent being with the ideal of a necessary being, one which does exist before its basis, which does have power over its ownmost being from the ground up etc. Dasein is therefore null in contrast with an absolute self-creating, self-sustaining being, a being which is neither thrown nor projection, or put another way: Dasein is null in comparison with God. The rationalist tradition tended to claim that human rationality is of the same essence as the divine, as rational creatures we could therefore attain to a level of ontological independence and conditionlessness. Although Heidegger rejects this tradition, particularly in his emphasis on Dasein as Being-in-the-world, the language of the nullities seems to represent the negative side of this tradition leaving traces of its desire to be like God.
Heidegger's criticism of rationalism is that it ignores Dasein's everyday being-in-the-world as the basic condition for all understanding whether theoretical or not. For Heidegger the so called "problem of the external world" is without meaning (H.202) for Dasein as being-in-the-world. As Guignon puts it "the skeptic's doubts are self-defeating because the skeptic could achieve the standpoint presupposed by his inquiry only by tacitly denying that he is Being-in-the-world" (HPK.205). Heidegger's description of the everyday emphasises the contextuality and situatedness of Dasein yet this undermines any claim that anxiety could reveal what the world is really like. Guignon calls this the "problem of reflexivity" (HPK.197), "Heidegger's project of finding the meaning of Being ... falls victim to the same sorts of challenge he raises against the Cartesian model in general." (HPK.20). Everything that Heidegger describes under the rubric of the everyday reveals the located and shared world of Dasein which "provides the field against which we first become human." (HPK.243). Heidegger has repeated the oversight of rationalism, the very conditions for becoming human are limits and constraints which must be overcome in order to reach a more essential view of being. Instead of reason it is the mood of anxiety which allows us to transcend the situatedness and contextuality of the everyday.
Although similar to Guignon, our criticism of Heidegger revolves around his devaluing of the everyday, and his search for something essential beyond or behind the everyday. Guignon, however, is specifically concerned with claims to knowing "any sort of transcendental essential structures underlying interpretation in general" (HPK.63). Our criticism is different because it is not specifically directed against general structures, or enduring features of our world as such - which Guignon would group along with "any sort of transcendental essential structures". Indeed, we see being-in-the-world as displaying such structures, they are structures of Being-in-the-world and so part of its very dynamic, not essential, transcendental structures behind or underlying Being-in-the-world. It is preciesly the structures/features/horizons of being-in-the-world that makes Heidegger's search for the univocal meaning of being impossible.
In the next chapter we shall come to see that the same problem of reflexivity arises in Heidegger's account of authenticity and inauthenticty. Heidegger's ideal of authenticity is like the ideal of pure rational knowledge as upheld by rationalism and His own notion of anxiety in being unnecessarily speculative. Which is to say that they all deny the very conditions for meaningful human existence by seeking a privileged position over and against such conditions. Heidegger denies that rationality transcends everyday Being-in-the-world, yet he argues that rationalism remains ensnared by the everyday and has failed to transcend this nearest and obvious, but illusory, perspective on being.
Being-with is, according to Heidegger, equiprimordial with being-in-the-world and so is part of the "broader phenomenal domain of everydayness of Da-sein" (STH.114). Heidegger claims that "a mere subject without a world 'is' not initially and is also never given. And, thus, an isolated I without the others is in the end just as far from being given initially" (STH.116). The worldless and otherless 'I' is therefore an abstraction which brackets off the full reality and richness of Dasein's existence. Being-in-the-world is a fundamental constitution of Da-sein which "determines every mode of its being" (STH.117). In the already explored 'work world', "others are 'also encountered' for whom the 'work' is to be done" so the ready-to-hand already contains a reference to the social-world of Dasein. Typically Heidegger maintains that the others 'encountered' in useful things are not added on externally to these things but are contained integrally within the very meaning of those things. The 'with' and 'also' of Dasein "are to be understood existentially, not categorically" (STH.118), our being-in is always a being-with. So although Dasein can be factically alone, Dasein is nevertheless always essentially being-with (H.120). Dasein's connectedness with the world and with others is a basic, primordial phenomenon:
this nearest and elemental way of Da-sein of being encountered in the world goes so far that even one's own Da-sein initially becomes "discoverable" by looking away from its "experiences" and the "centre of its actions" or by not yet "seeing" them all. Da-sein initially finds "itself" in what it does, needs, expects, has charge of, in the things at hand which it initially takes care of in the surrounding world (STH.119).
To say that Dasein is "initially" discovered in a certain way seems to point to a condition of possibility, what must be first or initial, ontologically, before any individual Dasein can exist. Dasein becomes initially discoverable, or initially possible not in isolation but as being-in-the-world. But what about being-with? It is curious that in the midst of a discussion of being-with, of encountering Others, Heidegger posits Dasein's finding of itself in its relation to things ready-to-hand rather than in its relation to other Daseins.
The necessity of Being-with, or what Polanyi has called conviviality, is a basic presupposition of the possibility of Dasein's being. As well as showing the emotional side of conviviality via the illustration of the isolation of newly hatched chickens who exhibit frantic behaviour and an emotionally damaged interaction with its siblings, Polanyi also argues that this emotional side of conviviality cannot be reduced to the necessities of biological life such as warmth and sustenance (PK.209-210). According to Polanyi conviviality should also be distinguished from language, though he notes that "conviviality is usually made effective by a more deliberate sharing of experience, and most commonly by conversation" (PK.210). In contrast to Heidegger's negative interpretation of 'idle talk', Polanyi sees conversation, "however uninformative", as part of the "cultivation of good fellowship". Polanyi's analysis of conviviality, together with Kuhn's notion of shared paradigms in science, emphasis the importance of Being-with for the passing on of skills, social lore, scientific knowledge and indeed the transmission of culture as a whole.
It would seem that Heidegger's view of Being-with is comparable to Polanyi's notion of conviviality, he even goes as far as to say that the "previously constituted disclosedness of others together with being-with ... helps to constitute significance, that is, worldliness." (STH.123). However Heidegger notes the predominance of negative or deficient modes of Being-with such as dominance and mistrust (H.122), "under the mask of the for-one-another, the against-one-another is at play" (STH.175). This is not merely an observation about how people factically mistreat each other, it is no "moralizing critique", it is an ontological claim (H.167). According to Heidegger "in being absorbed in the world of taking care of things, that is, at the same time in being-with toward others, Da-sein is not itself" (STH.125). Who then is this "everyday being-with-one-another"? In the everyday "Da-sein stands in subservience to the others" (STH.126), its being, its possibilities are taken away and put at the disposal of the others. These 'others' are not a specific group, in fact every Dasein belongs to, and entrenches the power of the others. Heidegger characterises Dasein's everyday being-with-one-another as "the they" [das man], the unspecific generality that according to Heidegger, is at work in our public world of transport, newspapers and social mores. We do things the way the "they" do them, our distinctive possibilities are levelled down and accommodated to the averageness that the "they" maintain in their dictatorship of the public world. While Heidegger maybe thought to have some similarity to pragmatism, he clearly here rejects any notion that knowledge can be reduced to what our peers let us get away with believing (though this may define public or common knowledge). In contrast "publicness obscures everything, and then claims that what has been thus covered over is what is familiar and accessible to everybody." (STH.127). The "they" take away all responsibility, things just happen "no one did it" (STH.127).
According to Heidegger, the 'they' is the everyday, "the self of everyday Da-sein is the they-self which we distinguish from the authentic self" (STH.129). Dasein is primordially the 'they', it is only by "clearing away coverings and obscurities, by breaking up the disguises with which Da-sein cuts itself off from itself". That the everyday is essentially inauthentic is clearly spelt out in Heidegger's 1928 lectures where he writes:
We understand ourselves in an everyday way or, as we can formulate it terminologically, not authentically in the strict sense of the word, not with constancy from the most proper and most extreme possibilities of our own existence, but inauthenically, our self indeed but as we are not our own, as we have lost our self in things and humans while we exist in the everyday (BP.160).
Heidegger claims that what is essential for Dasein is also inauthentic, and what is inauthentic, such as the "they", is also essential. Heidegger comes to a surprising conclusion, for it is from its everyday being that Dasein misses its own being, and instead understands itself in terms of what is "nearest". Yet he had earlier claimed that it is the everyday, as that which is nearest, that we pass over (H.43), and that it was Descartes mistake to pass over the phenomenon of the world (H.95). So, having criticised the present-at-hand way of understanding our world by revealing our everyday involvements, Heidegger now takes this involvement as the explanation for all present-at-hand ontologies.
Stephen Mulhall writes that "readiness-to-hand is essentially inter-subjective", for what is produced is produced by and for others (HBT.66). Equipment is also useful for any Dasein who is in a position to use it and not tied to one individual Dasein. "Dasein establishes and maintains its relation to itself in and through its relation with Others" (HBT.67). Because Being-in-the-world and Being-with-others are essential elements of Dasein, they are not limitations or constraints but ontological limits and conditions. The authentic self is not one that has escaped or become detached from such conditions but is a distinctive mode or modification within these conditions. Heidegger is though involved in some confusion for the "they" is both a primordial phenomenon that belongs to the positive constitution of Dasein and also essentially inauthentic. This means that Dasein must also be essentially inauthentic and indeed Heidegger says that authenticity is a modification of the they, a modification of falling everydayness and so a modification of inauthenticity.
Mulhall tries to solve this by interpreting the everyday as a particular ontic sate, an existentiell rather than an existential. This though suggests that the everyday is something accidental to Dasein, a possibility (which is secondary), and not a necessity (which is primary), something which Heidegger clearly denies. As with Heidegger, Mulhall equates the everyday with the work-world of occupations, social roles, tasks and functions, reducing it to the ready-to-hand. He writes that:
"since the environment closest to them is the work-world, the identity closest to them is their identities as workers, as people performing socially defined and culturally inherited tasks whose nature is given prior to and independently of their own individuality" (HBT.72).
Is there such a thing as individuality abstracted from the social, economic and cultural context, and conversely can culture and society be abstracted from all individuality? Mulhall seems quite happy to make the jump from inter-personal practices to impersonal practices. This indicates that Mulhall interprets the social work-world in present-at-hand terms claiming that "the role-occupant" of a social practice "is an idealization or construct, an abstract or average human being rather than anyone in particular" (HBT.73). Mulhall does however admit that social roles can become meaningful but only in addition and in opposition to their essential nature, a position that sounds reminiscent of throwing a signification over the present-at-hand (HBT.74). But, perhaps more basic than this, we see once again the reductive understanding of everydayness as identical to the ready-to-hand. Though this understanding of the everyday has contributed to a critique of rationalism, it also prepares the way for the denigration of the everyday.
The everyday was said to be an undifferentiated mode of being, and from this primary phenomenon we have been attempting to explain theory as a specialized activity which builds on the everyday. We have though noted that Heidegger has an ambivalent attitude towards the everyday, and sees the everyday as only the most immediate layer of being. Dreyfus interprets Heidegger as positing three possible modes of existing for Dasein of which the everyday is the third alongside the two modes of authenticity and inauthenticity. These modes are to be understood as Dasein's relation to its possibilities "Dasein has either chosen these possibilities itself, or got itself into them, or grown up in them already" (H.12). The first is authentic, the second inauthentic, and the third is the everyday mode whereby Dasein grows up into the current public interpretation of the world. The everyday is closely related to being-in-the-world for it is the ontological presupposition of all understanding and of all of Dasein's possibilities. From the everyday there is "never a possibility of extrication. In it, out of it, and against it, all genuine understanding, interpreting, and communicating, all re-discovering and appropriating anew, are performed" (H.169). Dreyfus wants to keep the everyday separate from the mode of inauthenticity, though the above passage indicates that one is never "outside" the everyday, also the context equates the everyday with inauthenticity and so undercuts the possibility of the everyday being a neutral third position between authenticity and inauthenticity. Dreyfus can certainly appeal to Heidegger's text in support of his contention, as he does; however the relevant statements appear isolated and in contradiction to the overwhelming import of Heidegger's position.
Dasein is "initially and for the most part" absorbed and "taken in" by the world (H.113). It is concernful Being-in-the-world that leads Dasein to misinterpret itself, for Dasein "gets its ontological understanding of itself in the first instance from those entities which it itself is not but which it encounters 'within' its world, and from the Being which they possess". The being possessed by those entities which are not Dasein is that of presence-at-hand, so Heidegger's dualism between Dasein and present-at-hand entities in the world plays an important role in how Heidegger understands the way Dasein goes wrong in its interpretations. Dasein misinterprets itself because it "has the inclination to be entangled in the world" (STH.21 cf. H.58), but is not the attempt to disentangle ourselves from the world the quintessential epistemological move which leads to the worldless subject? The very unitary phenomenon of being-in-the-world that is supposed to account for our understanding involvement, by making us familiar with the world, tends to lead Dasein to "lose itself in what it encounters within the world and be numbed by it." (STH.76).
There seems to be, despite Heidegger's claims, an opposition between inauthenticity -which is entangled with the world and others - and authenticity, as "arising out of one's own self as such" (H.146). After his analysis of being-with, it is quite astonishing that Heidegger can talk of a self "as such". The autonomous individual remains central in Heidegger's thinking so that inauthenticity is equated with losing oneself, and where else would Dasein lose itself other than in the everyday where Dasein is always confronted with the public interpretation of reality. This public interpretation is no wellspring of seasoned wisdom but is a temptation to Dasein to always miss the actual phenomenon. The public interpretation of things rests in a self-assured tranquility based on the obviousness, the self-evidence that accrues to its timeworn and unquestioning stance towards the world. Such a stance is closed off and uprooted yet is nevertheless a mode of disclosure. The 'they' [das Man] has an oppressive sway over Dasein, dominating interpretation "the 'they' prescribes one's attunement, and determines what and how one 'sees'" (H.170). Although authenticity will inevitably involve Being-in and Being-with, Heidegger usually talks of authenticity in terms of Dasein itself, "Dasein is authentically itself in the primordial individualization of the reticent resoluteness which exacts anxiety of itself" (H.322/3).
Everydayness has a very ambivalent position in Heidegger's Being and Time. It is primary and "for the most part", yet it is a definite modification: a clear understanding of the everyday allows us to escape the misunderstanding of traditional philosophy yet is itself to blame for those misunderstandings. The everyday is both inauthentic and the basis for authenticity, as Heidegger writes: "authentic existence is not something which floats above falling everydayness; existentially, it is only a modified way in which such everydayness is seized upon." (H.179). He even claims that an ontological analysis "is not justified in elevating itself over the everyday" (H.290), the everyday is the starting point for any ontological enquiry and so must "point back to the primordial meaning [of the call of conscience]" (H.294). However this primordial meaning does elevate itself above the everyday in the way it claims to reach the meaning of being as such, and the ownmost possibilities of a self as such. Thus transcending the significance of the world and the being-with of the self. This critique reads Heidegger against Heidegger, for despite his tendency to see the everyday as in principle "ontologically suspect", the everyday still "must somehow get at the phenomenon pre-ontologically" (H.289). As such, he claims that, when Dasein is authentic "the "world" at hand does not become different as far as "content," the circle of the others is not exchanged for a new one," what is different is that they are "now defined in terms of their ownmost potentiality-of-being-a-self" (H.298). So that "authentic disclosedness" is "nothing other than authentically being-in-the-world" (H.298).
The 'they' takes away Dasein's possibilities-of-being and silently disburdens Dasein "of explicitly choosing these possibilities" (H.268). Because the 'they' is an essential constitution of Dasein, it does not 'factically' take away possibilities and choice from Dasein. Yet to become authentic Dasein must make up for not choosing by "choosing to make this choice" (H.268), that is by authentically accepting its throwness into the 'they'. Dasein's "ownmost potentiality-of-being-a-self" can only be realized through the summoning of Dasein by the call of conscience to its ontological deficiency, its Schuldigsein (H.269).
In the everyday, Dasein "fails to hear itself" because of the deafening "noise" of the "they", it is the call of conscience which breaks through this noise and summons Dasein to its own self, "to its most unique possibilities" (STH.273). We have here an opposition between authentic individuality and our everyday being-with, it is explicitly "from its lostness in the they" that "Conscience calls the self of Dasein" (STH.274). Dasein is called to its ownmost possibilities not to any particular possibility. This is why the call of conscience, although a form of discourse, is one that is "constantly in the mode of keeping silent" (H.273.) It comes both from Dasein yet also from beyond Dasein (H.275), Heidegger needs this 'beyond' in order to solve the problem of how Dasein - who is lost in the 'they' - can realize its lostness and call itself out of its lostness. Without such a "beyond", Heidegger would be left, as Mulhall notes, with "an incoherent process of internal bootstrapping" (HBT p.132). The problem is to say what this beyond might be. Mulhall's solution is to develop Heidegger's fleeting references to "hearing the voice of the friend whom every Dasein carries with it" (H.163), and the possibility that when Dasein is resolute "it can become the conscience of Others" (H.298). There is though, still the problem of how Dasein while lost in the 'they' could come to hear and respond to this call? However more fundamentally, the question arises as to how the friend can become authentic in the first place. These questions take on a greater urgency when it becomes evident that Heidegger himself must position himself as the authentic friend/other who calls us, his readers, to authenticity.
The solution offered by Mulhall faces the problem of Heidegger's individualism. One of the important results of Heidegger's discussion of being-towards-death is that only I can face my own death, and from the beginning Heidegger has emphasized Dasein's mineness. Ultimately authenticity is about becoming-a-self, it is about facing ones ownmost possibilities, it is about tearing oneself away from the 'they' in order to find oneself. Being-towards-death individualizes Dasein, and so makes Dasein ready for authenticity. Authentic being-a-self must be achieved out of ones own resources, anything else would be to concede one's responsibility to others and so be lost once more in the 'they'. Mulhall's final appeal is that inauthenticity is not universal or absolute and so no community of Daseins:
"could utterly lose a sense of themselves as capable of authenticity ... some vestiges of that [authentic] self-interpretation will survive for as long as humans so ... the human world could never be entirely incapable of disrupting the inveterate repressions of authenticity" (HBT.181).
The point at issue, however, is precisely whether, as Heidegger and Mulhall claim, authenticity is possible given that Dasein is always already inauthentic. Mulhall has given no clear indication of how inauthenticity can give way to authenticity, he has merely begged the question.
Because the everyday is essentially inauthentic it becomes an ontological problem as to what makes authenticity possible. Such a condition must be something that is beyond, and so not conditioned by, the everyday. Mulhall is on the right track in seeing Being-with as a condition for authenticity, yet his solution is at odds with Heidegger's claim that "it is from the authentic being a self of resoluteness that authentic being-with-one-another first arise" (H.298). Heidegger has made the possibility of authenticity an ontological problem rather than a factical one, just as rationalism made knowing ontologically problematic. In dissolving the latter problem he argues that the very conditions of knowledge are always already in place, unproblematically, before such questions can arise (H.202-203). In the same way the only solution to the problem of authenticity is a radical re-interpretation of our everyday Being-in-the-world-with-others as the very conditions for authenticity. As Mulhall points out in another context: "If no recognizably human existence is conceivable in the absence of a world, then the fact that human existence is worldly cannot be a limitation or constraint upon it" (HBT.61). It is a shame that Mulhall does not pursue the implication of this in his discussion of inauthenticity, because if necessary conditions cannot be interpreted as limitations or constraints, then Heidegger's emphasis on the nullities and inauthenticity as ontological is mistaken. Once being-with is seen as a necessary condition then Mulhall, by invoking the other, has really dissolved, rather than solved the problem of the possibility of authenticity. The problem with Heidegger's analysis of the 'they' is precisely that it is ontological and not, as his dismissively calls it, a "moralizing critique".
The challenge of this chapter is to complete our critique of Heidegger through a discussion of his explicit treatment of the relation between theory and the everyday, and to suggest a more productive understanding of this relation that builds on themes in Being and Time, in particular the critique of rationalism.
Heidegger's critique of rationalism has a certain subtlety for he does not dismiss it out of hand. Rationalism is not wrong to interpret the world in terms of the schema of subject and object, the problem is the way that this schema is interpreted and its role in philosophical analysis. It is a question of priority, or better, a question of depth. The rationalist tradition sees theory as primary, providing the only secure foundation for the rest of experience. Heidegger turns this around by pointing out that being absorbed in an activity is more basic than the detached attitude which first brings to light the subject-object relation. The theoretical attitude is not primary, rather as Heidegger says, “the nearest kind of association is ... a handling, using, and a taking care of things which has its own kind of `knowledge' ” (STH.67). Heidegger here employs a broad conception of knowledge which allows us the possibility to develop the insight that the different modes of being are also different kinds of knowing, each with their own integrity. In the claim that handling, using, and taking care of things is the "nearest kind of association", we both move one step beyond rationalism, and yet also fall back into Heidegger limited conception of the everyday as characterized by one mode of being: the ready-to-hand.
This limitation raises the problem of how theory, as something quite different from the ready-to-hand, can emerge from the everyday. Heidegger has simply switched the picture around making theory depend on the ready-to-hand, just as rationalism had made the ready-to-hand depend on theory. One reductionism has been replaced by another. Heidegger writes that "if knowing is to be possible as a way of determining the nature of the present-at-hand by observing it, then there must first be a deficiency in our having-to-do with the world concernfully" (emphasis added H.61). The subject-object relation which becomes apparent in the theoretical attitude is explained as a result of the breakdown of our normal (everyday) involvements, or in terms of the deficiency of those involvements.
Heidegger has rightly, in our opinion, perceived the relation between the everyday and theory as one of a primary broader horizon to a more specific focus within that horizon. However, because the everyday is reduced to the ready-to-hand, he has wrongly viewed the relation between this mode of being and the present-at-hand. Heidegger has correlated the primary-secondary relation between the everyday and theory with the relation between the ready-to-hand (primary) and present-at-hand (secondary). However we have made clear that the everyday is not to be reduced to the ready-to-hand, what needs to be added now is that while the ready-to-hand is primarily a mode of the everyday it can become, secondarily, a specialized activity. We can also make the reverse observation about the present-at-hand, that while it has gained our attention in the specialized activity of theory (secondary), the present-at-hand - as a basic mode of Being-in-the-world - is bound up as an integral part of our everyday experience (primary). This conception puts our manipulating/controlling involvement and our rational distinguishing and thematizing side-by-side, as it were, each able to take the lead in a specific situation. By interpreting the present-at-hand as a deficient mode(ification) of the ready-to-hand alongside other modifications such as conspicuousness and obtrusiveness, Heidegger has reduced the present-at-hand to the ready-to-hand obscuring it as a mode of being in its own right. It is only the various ways that equipment becomes unready-to-hand which "have the function of bringing to the fore the characteristic of presence-at-hand in what is ready-to-hand" (H.74).
There is then a tension in Heidegger between the present-at-hand understood as a mode in its own right and understood as a modification of the ready-to-hand. The second understanding leads Heidegger to describe knowing as a mere "tarrying alongside" where we "look at something" so that the kind of dwelling embodied in knowing is "a holding-oneself-back from any manipulation or utilization" (H.61/2). This is conceived as a distinct moment before that which is perceived gets taken up in an interpretive moment where "one addresses oneself to something as something and discusses it as such" (H.62) in this interpretive act "perception becomes an act of making determinate." (H.62). In such a way Heidegger seems to undo the analysis of knowing as a mode of Being-in-the-world and returns to a more traditional understanding. In terms of the unitary phenomenon of Being-in-the-world, it makes more sense to see these acts as one and the same, so that "looking at something" has already made that something standout from its context in a determinate way. The unitary phenomenon of Being-in-the-world has the potential to disclose theoretical knowing as just one specifically intensified mode of producing and manipulating involving the forming and employing of concepts and distinctions in a logical and systematic manner.
Despite Heidegger's tendency to speak of the theoretical attitude as a holding back from practical involvement (H.61), there is then the possibility of developing Heidegger's position, as does Dreyfus, so that “the isolation of properties required by theory (looking away from their context) is independently motivated and requires its own kind of skill”(BW.80). Theorizing, often designated as thematizing by Heidegger, can then be understood in a positive sense as a “new way” of looking where things, properties etc. are selectively viewed and recontextualized into a theoretical framework (H.361).
A confirmation of our interpretation of the relationship between the everyday and theory is the way in which Heidegger sees philosophy as relating to the positive sciences. It is from philosophy as “Fundamental ontology” that “all other ontologies can originate” (STH.13). This notion of philosophy is sketched out by Heidegger in section 10 of Being and Time, and holds some promise of circumscribing a valid task for philosophy. Philosophy then deals with human experience in its totality, though from a theoretical perspective, whereas the positive sciences deal with specific abstracted areas of experience. Heidegger is therefore right to observe that when he makes claims such as: “human beings have their environment” (H.57) it is not to be interpreted in a biologistic fashion (H.58).
Heidegger's positive description of theory sees it as an extension of everyday involvement in the world, it is an account of theory as growing out of the everyday and so maintaining some of the characteristics of the everyday (such as involvement). Theory moves us from the everyday world into a theoretical world, this is not a new world but a specific view-point on everyday experience. There is both an important connection and an important difference between theory and the everyday. Theory is specialized activity and so not everyday activity. While theory is embedded in the everyday, it is a particular differentiation of what was undifferentiated, a making explicit certain facets of experience that were largely implicit. Theory is an expression of part of what makes human experience so complex and rich. As Heidegger puts it “science and disciplines are ways of being of Da-sein in which Da-sein also relates to beings that it need not itself be. But being in a world belongs essentially to Da-sein” (STH.13). So it is characteristic of Dasein that it is open to possibilities but not thereby defined by any one of them. Theory as one basic possibility among others cannot capture what it means to be human, and so to define humans as "rational animal" is to confuse Dasein with one of its possibilities. Instead of the everyday being a vague and imprecise reflection or obfuscation of what becomes revealed in theory - a position which interprets the everyday as pre-theoretical - theory is a particular intensified aspect of the everyday that has become differentiated and explicit. We could express this different emphasis by calling theory a “post-everyday” phenomenon.
The object, as purely present-at-hand, is characterized by its independence and isolation. This appearance is however artificial because it is the result of abstraction. While traditionally the self-contained object, free from all subjective “interference”, has been understood as the true “thing-in-itself”, the present-at-hand object is a result of human activity rather than its presupposition. The activity of viewing an object in isolation from its context requires a bracketing out, or abstraction and so what comes in view is not a real object but an artificial one.
Theory must therefore be seen as a human activity and so be understood within the context of human experience and activity as a whole. Heidegger's "existential conception" of Dasein is on the right track when it "understands science as a way of existing and thus as a mode of being-in-the-world" (H.357). Theoretical activity is very useful in focusing analysis and gaining greater insight into certain details and structures of our world. In such specialized knowing:
Da-sein gains a new perspective of being towards the world always already discovered in Da-sein. This new possibility of being can be independently developed. It can become a task, and as scientific knowledge can take over the guidance for being-in-the-world. (STH.62)
Knowing does not create the relation between Dasein and world but is a particular mode of Dasein which is founded in Being-in-the-world. Merleau-Ponty writes that "philosophy is merely an elucidated experience". Theory, including philosophy, is part of experience and in elucidating experience in a certain way contributes to experience, yet neither its activity nor its results should be equated with experience in its wholeness. It is the mistake of rationalism, or what Merleau-Ponty calls "reflective philosophies", "to believe that the thinking subject can absorb into its thinking or appropriate without remainder the object of its thought". So theory gives us a unique view on reality, but it gives us neither the whole of reality, nor the essential element that is supposed to underlie everyday reality and be the truly real.
It would do well at this point if we distinguish our critique of rationalism from a critique of conceptuality as such. There has been in recent philosophy a critique of the "violence" of the concept, a critique which is significantly prefigured in Heidegger's critique of the present-at-hand. The important figure in this is Emmanuel Levinas who sees the concept as a form of egoism where the self seeks to possess, or grasp the other and so divest it of its alterity. In contrast to this critique, we see theory as having a limited role as part of the complexity of experience. To say that it has a limited role is to point to its specificity as one moment, aspect or mode of experience which while related to the rest of experience cannot comprehend, or reduce that greater complexity to itself. In this we accept the partial validity of the recent critique of the concept. However in saying that theory has a limited role we also indicate that it cannot be emasculated from experience, but rather forms an integral part of all experience to which it contributes, and in which it can even take the lead as in so called "theoretical" activity.
The notion of the “post-everyday” subverts the prominence usually given to theory in two ways. First the priority is given to the everyday, this is where we noted our agreement with Heidegger earlier, and secondly, it becomes possible to align theory as one amongst a variety of post-everyday activities. Whenever certain practices or skills receive focused attention and become an explicit sphere of action there develops post-everyday phenomena. By talking of the “development” of the post-everyday we indicate that there is a historical dimension to the relationship between the everyday and post-everyday. This historical dimension is clearly evident in the historical differentiation of institutes which give public-communal expression to the post-everyday; for example artistic, political, financial, and academic institutions. It is also mirrored in the development of theory which has become increasingly differentiated as it explores theoretically the many dimensions of our world. The intimate connection between the everyday and the post-everyday means that history is bound up with both. It was the historicity of the everyday that first prompted Heidegger's interest in it as a phenomenological resource.
Instead of viewing the everyday, and various modes such as our being-with, and our historicity as limitations that necessarily distort our understanding, we should see them as part of what makes understanding possible. Having made this adjustment the notion that recognizing our situatedness induces relativism only makes sense against the discredited ideal of absolute, unconditioned knowledge. The view that being-in-the-world is necessary for any understanding (or misunderstanding) is inconsistent with the worry that being-in-the-world destroys the possibility of understanding. To be sure, there remains the problem of deciding between better and worse understandings, but this can now be understood in all its complexity and with due consideration to the responsibility that such decisions entail. By dissolving the ontological problem of knowledge our focus can return to the factical problems that arise in actual knowing. Rationalism, in contrast, tends to both obscure the responsibility entailed in factical knowing, and lead us into an ontological skepticism. We can hardly be worse off then, if we allow for a much wider range of experience to act as sources, presuppositions and positive conditions for the possibility of understanding. Truth is not found in closure, but in dis-closure. Truth is the responsible, and therefore normative, inter-relating of historically differentiating modes of experience. Only a timeless being would need timeless truth, which is not to denigrate the need for enduring norms. It is though, through history that norms are disclosed, complicated and situated. Such a position does not entail that history always develops in a positive direction, instead it is to see history, along with the other aspects of our being-in-the-world, as ontological pre-conditions out of which comes both good and bad.
In order to give students an initial idea of the rich diversity of meanings that confront us in our everyday experience the Dutch philosopher Herman Dooyeweerd used the example of buying cigars. It is an example that functions much like Heidegger's example of the table in his home and the activities of his young family around it, Dooyeweerd however deliberately emphasized the variety of special scientific viewpoints that could be taken in interpreting the phenomenon. Seerveld relates the example as follows:
I walk into a store to buy a box of cigars. If a jurist were watching, as a jurist, he would notice the rights and duties of buyer and seller. An aesthetician will pay attention rather to the style of the activity, the gestures of the figures, perhaps the cut of their clothes and the interior design of the store. An economist will be interested primarily in the price and value of the cigars. A sociologist is concerned especially with the mores of those in the shop, the customs of greetings and politesse, the neighbourhood. A linguist might focus on the talk, its slang, correct speech forms, or inflections of dialect. An off-duty psychologist happening in would detect the emotions involved, the buyer's desire for a good smoke and the wish of the seller to please his customer. Although a physicist and mathematician do not usually examine the sale of cigars in their laboratory, such professionals could study the quantitative side of this business transaction, matters of inertia, velocity, size and number; after all, Dooyeweerd's buying cigars also falls into the realm of statistics.
Dooyeweerd understood reality to be a complexity of meaning; not only do entities exist within a referential framework, as with Heidegger, but also basic modes of meaning depend and relate to each other in a coherence of references. Dooyeweerd writes that "every aspect of experience expresses within its model structure the entire temporal order and connection of all the aspects", and so all of the modes of experience, "in spite of their mutual irreducibility - are interrelated in an unbreakable coherence of meaning." Modes of meaning do not exist in themselves, instead they are only to be thought of in connection with actual beings, in this way Dooyeweerd rejected all ideas of substances or things in themselves that somehow stand behind everyday experience.
Heidegger's analysis of the everyday also shows us that reality confronts us as something which holds together in a complexity of inter-relations. Although he never claims to offer a complete or systematic analysis of the everyday, he speaks loosely of "modes of being" as "all the structures of being of Da-sein" (STH.114). We have looked at the main candidates for what might be described as modes or structures of being pertaining to Dasein, however Heidegger never asks what these modes are or how they might relate to each other. Despite his explicit attention to the problem of the multiplicity and unity of being, and his sensitivity to the complexity of our everyday experience, in the end Heidegger's search for the Being of beings leads him beyond to an essential world stripped of significance and meaning. Being is ultimately an inhospitable place for Dasein and its projects, this pure being can only be known through the mood of anxiety which shakes us out of our everyday involvement in the world. This being is really not so different from the being of rational metaphysics. It is a world with no care for our projects, an essential world behind our more familiar one which reveals our concerns as arbitrary and contingent. This is the ambivalence of the everyday, at one point it gives us critical leverage over rational metaphysics and yet it ends up in its traditional role of the superficial, and vague covering which obscures the deeper truth of being. While Heidegger's project concerning the question of being certainly helped him break with the dominance of epistemological problematics and reach a more subtle understanding of the richness and complexity of our world, its emphasis on a hidden unity behind the everyday ultimately destroys both the coherence and the diversity of the different modes of reality. In this we feel a certain affinity with Guignon's critique, that Heidegger's preoccupation with the question of the meaning of being is inconsistent with his critique of traditional epistemology.
To finish, however, it is worth illustrating how Heidegger's analysis continually points to the richness of human experience using the example of his discussion of language. Here Heidegger is not just interested in the informative statements that hold the attention of other philosophers, but also has reference to commands, wishes and intercession (H.162). He invites us to notice the social character of language writing that "Being-with is "explicitly" shared in discourse" (STH.162). Heidegger is aware of the way non-linguistic elements are bound up with, and shape language in the intonation, modulation and the tempo of talk which makes up the "way of speaking" (H.162). His discussion of hearing opens up the phenomenon beyond the physical, biological, and sensitive modes which make hearing possible, to its rich functioning as part of Dasein's understandingly being-in-the-world. Against empiricist reduction to sense impression, Heidegger argues that ""Initially" we never hear noises and complexes of sound, but the creaking wagon, the motorcycle. We hear the column on the march, the north wind, the woodpecker tapping, the crackling fire." (STH.163). We do not hear pure noise except with deliberate effort, because Dasein is always in-the-world together with innerworldly things. Ranging beyond the reach of traditional philosophy, Heidegger can even view the metaphoricity of language as suggestive of the rich complexity of what is actually experienced so that, for example, the organic metaphors used when talking of "dead languages" or saying "that a language grows or declines", are worthy of investigation (H.166).
The everyday is distinctive in not being distinctive. It is just where we primarily find ourselves, the basic layer of human experience which lacks a specific, technically developed focus. The everyday can be described from a variety of angles: It is biological in the sense of the environmental niche in which we find ourselves; Perceptive in our awareness of ourselves, others and the world; It is our competent handling of things and situations; Our distinguishing and thinking; It involves us in the social and historical matrix of language, relationships, the exchange of necessities, and the basic ordering of society. All these, and more, can be said to form part of what, in the normal course of things, makes human life what it is. The everyday is linked to modes of being (ontology), modes of encountering understandingly (epistemology), modes of responsibility (ethics), and modes of being human (anthropology).
We have shown that, despite his sensitivity towards the diversity of everyday experience, Heidegger reduces the everyday to the ready-to-hand. This throws off balance his understanding of theory and mitigates against greater consistency in developing a positive account of theory. Nevertheless, Heidegger's account of the everyday provides a strong basis for a critique of the exaggerated importance given to theory by rationalism. Despite this Heidegger still seeks a truth that would not be subject to the complexity of human experience and which would allow us an essential insight into the meaning of being. The mood of anxiety functions in the role vacated by reason, allowing us to see the world stripped of its significance. In this, Heidegger undoes his analysis of Dasein as being-in-the-world. The mood of anxiety is joined by the call of conscience which comes from both within, and beyond Dasein, and calls us to a more essential living against the superficiality of the everyday. As such authenticity moves in diametric opposition to the everyday where Dasein's being-with is always entangled with the "they".
The project concerning the meaning of being at turns, combines with phenomenological description to enrich our understanding of our world, and seeks an essential unity behind the everyday. We have found that in developing the former, the latter is made problematic. Throughout our argument it has been the notion of the everyday as primary or initial - as that which provides the context and makes possible the diversity of human action in the world - which has guided our critique of Heidegger. We have developed Heidegger's own critique of rationalism in order to show its pertinence in evaluating his own position.
By the very ontology of subject and object, rationalism made the knowledge of the world into a problem. Heidegger's insight is to see that we are already understandingly in-the-world and so global skepticism is ruled out from the start We have seen that in a very similar way Heidegger's ontology makes problematic his notion of authenticity. If we oppose his distinction of authenticity and inauthenticity, just as Heidegger opposed the subject-object distinction, then we can see this distinction as factical rather than ontological. In this way a space is opened up for the issue of Dasein's possibilities to be understood without negative comparisons to some being which can make context-less and necessary decisions. The critique of the ontological problems raised by both rationalism and Heidegger, pushes necessity back to the level of conditions that "make possible", and so allows us to concentrate on the problems that arise from the responsibility which results from our freedom. Rather than seeking some essential truth behind the everyday, philosophy should reflect theoretically on the diversity and complexity of our world, in order to aid a critical examination of our thoughts and actions to see if they do justice to all that it means to be human in our world.
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N2 Levinas put the matter thus "The philosophical discourse of the West claims the amplitude of an all-encompassing structure or of an ultimate comprehension. It compels every other discourse to justify itself before philosophy" "God and Philosophy" in Basic Philosophical Writings p.129
N3 A.J. Aye is an extreme example of this. He is quite happy to bundle emotions, ethics, aesthetics and religious experience together as "values" which have no value in regard to knowing, which is purely factual.
N4 Given more space it would have been worth exploring the way this term connects with the idea of geometrical space, which in being very important to the development of the physical sciences in the time of Descartes indicates the focus of Heidegger's crtique.
N5 There has, unfortunately, not been space to explore Heidegger's attitude towards presuppositions in philosophy. We would though note the following: Heidegger sees philosophy as having a "distinctive priority" in questions of presuppositions for "it deals with what every positing of beings ... must already presuppose essentially." (BP.11-12). Yet the hermeneutical nature of philosophy leads Heidegger to constantly worry about making secure his phenomenological descriptions. As we shall see Heidegger draws on the phenomenological turn to experience by suggesting that we should begin with our everydayness. While realizing the necessity of presuppositions - he argues against "the prejudice of freedom from standpoints" in OHF.63 - Heidegger sees phenomenology as able to make this "hemeneutical situation" clear and secure by bringing it into a confrontation with "the phenomenon" or "a fundamental experience of the 'object'" (H.232).
N6 Dreyfus calls this tradition mentalism because it assumes the priority of mental representations over embodied action, even in its theories of action. Heidegger however rejects all theories of action that explains action "in terms of beliefs and desires, that is, mental states causing bodily movements." (BW.49). We are first involved concernfully and only later can we become disinterested (H.67). "Heidegger's analysis of the natural situation of everyday activities is meant to show that the traditional epistemic situation of a mind distinct from objects, whether observing or acting upon them, is a deficient mode of being-in-the-world" (BW.54).
N7 In chapter three we will examine Dreyfus' claim that this undifferentiated mode is a third possibility alongside that of in/authenticity.
N11 See Chapter two.
N12 Macquarry and Robinson have "kind of being" p.150
N13 This sense of understanding has a broad sense which Dreyfus likes to think of in terms of the intelligibility of background practices (BW.343n.3). This interpretation of Heidegger, which closely connects being with the understanding of being, or existence with comprehension, is the basis of Levinas' early critique of Heidegger in "Is Ontology Fundamental?". Basic Philosophical Writing pp.1-10
N14 As such, nature, the quintessential example of the present-at-hand, is itself a theoretical construct. Cf. our comments in n.4 of the introduction p.vi.
N15 Heidegger rejects the notion that Dasein is a "spiritual Thing" which gets misplaced in a (spatial) corporal Thing (H.56).
N16 Levinas also seems to sense that Heidegger underplays the human body somewhat, complaining that "Dasein in Heidegger is never hungry". Totality and Infinity (1969) p.134. We would suggest that a positive understanding of the human body as part of an account of Dasein's being-in-the-world would considerably weaken Levinas' criticism that being is reduced to comprehension. On Levinas' criticism see n.9 above
N17 Polanyi also uses the example of tools, though he writes it is "only one example of the merging of a thing in a whole (or a gestalt) in which it is assigned a subsidiary function and a meaning in respect to something that has our focal attention." (PK.61)
N19 Heidegger: An Introduction (ULC. 1999) p.51
N20 Heidegger is using the word "know" in a narrow sense.
N21 It is in this context that we understand Heidegger's statement that "readiness-to-hand is the way in which entities as they are 'in themselves' are defined ontologico-categorially." (H.71). Cf. H.75-76 and BW.65
N22 The context here of Heidegger's critique of scientism strengthens the suggestion that science and the present-at-hand mode of being are related phenomenon.
N23 Merleau-Ponty's insistence on the “primacy of perception" shows that our everyday experience can be viewed from a perspective which is different than the ready-to-hand, a fact which illustrates the complexity of the everyday.
N24 According to Heidegger indicating is a kind of reference which itself is a kind of relation (H.77).
N25 Heidegger recognises the referential nature of entities because they always exist within a contextual whole. Here though we are trying to indicate that the diversity of kinds of signs that Heidegger enumerates, shows that modes of being also express an internal relation to each other. For example symptoms are linked to the organic mode of being, monuments to the social and historical modes, residues, marks and traces to the physical, expressions and appearances to the sensitive, certificates to the legal. As such these phenomena can only be understood in relation to a multiplicity of modes of being. We will develop this suggestion in chapter four.
N26 Although as Dreyfus points out, and we will developed in chapter four, it also recontextualises within a theoretical framework.
N27 Dooyeweerd opens the third volume of A New Critique of Theoretical Thought with a discussion of the way philosophy has interpreted "naïve experience" in terms of the concept of substance, and the "abbild-theorie" as if naïve experience were a theory that could be refuted by science. In "The Origin of the Work of Art" Heidegger also analyses the way philosophical understandings of the thing, which "are now in everyday use", have influenced our everyday understanding of the world. A New Critique of Theoretical Thought Vol. III pp.3-52 and Basic Writings Second Edition pp.143-212
N28 Dreyfus's interpretation of Heidegger strongly emphasises the embodied nature of skills.
N29 That Dasein is also essentially being-with other Daseins does not help matters, as shall become apparent in chapter three.
N30 "The question of whether there is a world at all and whether its being can be demonstrated, makes no sense at all if it is raised by Dasein as Being-in-the-world; and who else would raise it?" (STH.202). The "scandal of philosophy is not that this proof has yet to be given, but that such proofs are expected and attempted again and again" (H.205) cf. HPK.13
N31 This paragraph follows Heidegger's argument on pages 156-157 where he has various neo-Kantians in mind; Natorp and Rickert in particular are discussed.
N32 Principia 1, pr.53 quoted by Heidegger endnote 4 of Division One, Chapter Three p.490 of the Macquarrie and Robinson translation.
N33 Ibid. endnote 6
N34 To reject the simple dualism between humans and non-humans is not the same as ignoring the wide diversity of inner-worldly beings, it is instead the precondition for doing justice to such a diversity. As well as the customary divisions made between humans, animals, plants and inanimate objects, which by themselves complicate any simple dualism, we can add the different kinds of being of cultural artefacts and institutions which themselves express a considerable richness of type. Heidegger seems to have appreciated this diversity more by the time he came to write "The Origin of the Work of Art" see especially p.147
N35 Compare Heidegger's judgement on Kant "He talks in the same way about the Dasein of nature, the Dasein of the thing [sache]. He never says that the concept of existence [Existenz and Dasein] has a different sense as applied to man" BP.141
N36 We tackle the parallel problem of the possibility of authenticity later in the third section of chapter three.
N37 In anxiety the world "collapses into itself ... completely lacking significance" (H.188).
N38 Existential Epistemology (Clarendon, 1986) pp.126-127
N39 Ibid. p.128
N40 "Dasein's falling into the "they" and the 'world' of its concern, is what we have called a 'fleeing' in the face of itself ... In falling Dasein turns away from itself" (H.185)
N41 Existential Epistemology p.129
N42 Heidegger makes the same point in connection with time H.18, and history H.21. However see H.58 where he defends his predominantly negative characterization of Being-in by arguing that this has "made known what is peculiar to this phenomenon" and so "is therefore positive in a genuine sense".
N43 At least with respect to Reason and whatever could be founded on it.
N44 Stambaugh sometimes translates das vorfallen/die verfallenheit as ensnarement or entanglement. See translators preface p.xv and p.164
N45 'zunachst' is usually translated as 'proximally' by Macquarrie and Robinson. "In ordinary German usage the word may mean 'at first', 'to begin with', or 'in the first instance'" p.25n.
N46 By using animals in this illustration, Polanyi shows his appreciation of a broader differentiation of typs of Being-in-the-world than just Dasein and non-Dasein. See our comment p.16n9
N47 For Heidegger's analysis of idle talk see H.167-170
N48 "the 'they' is an existential and belongs as a primordial phenomenon to the positive constitution of Da-sein (STH.129).
N49 The worldliness of Dasein is a condition of human life and so not a constraint upon it. (HBT p.62)
N50 This is explored further in section two of this chapter.
N51 We will discuss the relation of the everyday to more specialized, secondary modes more fully in chapter four.
N52 A position possibly influenced by Marx.
N53 The term "socialized" is used by Dreyfus in this context where he gives the example of a Japanese baby "passively ... formed by the public interpretation" (p.26).
N54 Compare the two following statements: "this potentiality-for-being, as one which is in each case mine, is free either for authenticity or for inauthenticity or for a mode in which neither of these has been differentiated." (H.232), "because Dasein is in each case essentially its own possibility, it can, in its very Being, 'choose' itself and win itself; it can also lose itself and never win itself; or only 'seem' to do so." (H.42). Both are quoted by Dreyfus, but the second seems to resist his construction and point towards our thesis that the everyday is thought of by Heidegger as being essentially inauthentic.
N55 Heidegger writes "only in so far as it is essentially something which can be authentic - that is, something of its own - can it have lost itself and not yet won itself" (H.42-43). Authenticity is primarily concerned with ones relation to oneself, it is grounded in that fact that "any Dasein whatsoever is characterized by mineness." (H.43).
N56 The Italics are mine. I have here followed Stambaugh's translation of 'Befindlichkeit' as attunement rather than state-of-mind. See Polt's comments pp.64-65 and footnote, also compare translators note p172.
N57 Compare Heidegger earlier and paralleled statement that "Authentic Being-one's-Self does not rest upon an exceptional condition of the subject, a condition that has been detached from the "they"; it is rather an existentiell modification of the "they" - of the "they" as an essential existentiale." (H.130)
N58 See our earlier discussion of the nullities which respect to the factical/ existential or ontical/ontological distinction (p.18-19). This is further developed in the present section.
N59 Schuldigsein means Being-guilty or being a lack. See Stambaugh note p.409
N60 Heidegger insists that the call of conscience is not some "mysterious voice" H.274.
N61 Mulhall sees Heidegger's suppression of the influence of Husserl on his thinking to be a result of such a conception of authenticity, so that Heidegger's position is not so dissimilar to Descartes isolated cogito in supposing to set aside the contingencies of his education.
N62 The metaphor of knowledge as like a building needing firm foundations has become the topic of much philosophical debate in both the so called analytical and continental traditions. The most famous attack on "foundationalism" is probably that of Richard Rorty in his book Philosophy and the Mirror of Nature.
N63 Dreyfus writes: “Heidegger shows that this subject-object epistemology presupposes a background of everyday practices into which we are socialised but that we do not represent in our minds.” BW.3 “Heidegger questions the view that experience is always and most basically a relation between a self-contained subject with mental content (the inner) and an independent object [with material qualities] (the outer).” BW.5
N64 See Dreyfus' analysis in BW.69-83. See also H.76
N65 Heidegger is fond of the example of using a hammer, however there is a difference between the unskilled DIY use of hammers and the specialised use of specialised tools by a craftsman.
N66 Which is to say that there is usually a tacit element of distinguishing and logically ordering things within everyday activities.
N67 We have here abandoned Heidegger's terminology in order to characterize more clearly the basic modes of experience that the ready-to-hand and present-at-hand indicate. I do this because Heidegger's terminology lends itself to the kind of mistake that I am trying to diagnose. While the ready-to-hand tends to indicate a particular kind of activity, what I here designate as manipulating/controlling involvement, it can easily slip into the broader usage of the everyday thus inviting the equivocation which I am trying to avoid. The opposite danger confronts the present-at-hand which with its close association with geometrical space, see H.54, narrows down the mode of rational/logical distinction and thematization to the particular instance of the natural sciences.
N68 H.73-74 see BW. 70-83
N69 See also BW.79
N70 See once more BW.81 & 84
N71 The notion of fundamental ontology as analysing and interrelating theoretically the various modes of being, is much more amenable to our perspective than the notion of fundamental ontology as the discourse which is uniquely equipped to discover the univocal meaning of being.
N72 The section is titled “How the analytic of Dasein is to be distinguished from anthropology, psychology, and biology”.
N73 Though Kant understood the necessity of a subjective involvement in knowing he still believed in the “thing-in-itself” and so was forced to claim that it was unknowable. Heidegger challenges this position by claiming that the useful things' kind of being is handiness: “it is only because useful things have this “being-in-themselves,” and do not merely occur, that they are handy in the broadest sense and are at our disposal” (STH.69), “Handiness is the ontological categorical definition of beings as they are “in themselves” ” (STH.71).
N74 On this Dooyeweerd writes that "Philosophical thinking is an actual activity; and only at the expense of this very actuality (and then merely in a theoretic concept) can it be abstracted from the thinking self". That is to say that the self that thinks "is actually operating not merely in its thought, but in all the functions in which it expresses itself within the coherence of our temporal world." A New Critique of Theoretical Thought Vol. I p.5
N75 Each post-everyday activity has the potential to enrich or distort the everyday. It is not the case that the everyday is a static substrate, which remains unaffected by its "offspring".
N76 Phenomenology of Perception p.63
N77 Ibid. P.62. We would add that it is not just the object but also the "thinking subject" that cannot be absorbed or appropriated by theory without remainder. See footnote 10
N78 See Emanuel Levinas Totality and Infinity translated by Alphonso Lingis (Dunquesne University Press, 1969). Compare also Levinas comment that "Knowledge is a relation of the Same with the Other in which the Other is reduced to the Same and divested of its strangeness, in which thinking relates itself to the other but the other is no longer other as such; the other is already appropriated, already mine." "Transcendence and Intelligibility" in Basic Philosophical Writings ed. Adriaan T. Peperzak et. al. (Indiana University Press, 1996) p.151
N79 We would also add that it cannot be reduced to any of the other aspects that make up our experience however decisive a role language, history, social practice or whatever can be seen to play with respect to theoretical activity.
N80 "The whole realm of human behaviour can be seen to exist in subrealms of functional types according to the different modal levels of functions which qualify and integrate types of relationships." Hendrik Hart Understanding Our World p.283
N81 Heidegger at this point in his development (just after the first world war) called the everyday "factical life". See chapter Two of Otto Pöggeler's Martin Heidegger and the Path of Thinking as well as Heidegger's lectures published as Ontology-The Hermeneutics of Facticity. Poggeler writes that "The sense of phenomenology, as Heidegger understands it, is the self-interpretation of factical life, which grasps itself in its primordiality when it understands itself as historical." p.17
N82 That the everyday does not necessarily cause distortion does not mean that it never causes distortion. Daseins everyday Being-in-the-world makes possible both understanding and misunderstanding.
N83 We note though that because reason exists in such a context the notion of its independence is illusory, so that rationalists have tacitly allowed the modes of sensory experience, trust, language, being-with and history, amongst others, to play a role in their knowing.
N84 "Dooyeweerd's Legacy for Aestheitics: Modal Law Theory" in The Legacy of Herman Dooyeweerd (University Press of America, 1985) p.47. Dooyeweerds detailed analysis of the dynamic interrelation of meaning is contained in his A New Critique of Theoretical Thought Vol.II The General Theory of the Modal Spheres
N85 The Analogical Concepts Translated by Robert D. Knudsen p.2 & 7
N86 See Heidegger and the Problem of Knowledge by Charles B. Guignon pp.20, 63 chapter 5. See our discussion in chapter two.
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