Monday, January 14, 2008

Winter, Week 1 Meeting - Part III

I.IV: Being-with and dasein-with (§26)

Others are encountered from out of the work-world, and they are encountered as dasein – more specifically, in their being as dasein-with (Mitdasein). I share my everyday world with these others, which is accordingly a with-world (Mitwelt). This is possible because dasein is essentially being-with (Mitsein) – being-with(-others) is an existentiale; it is part of what it takes to be dasein. Thus being-with is “autonomous” and “irreducible,” and Heidegger does not face the problem of other minds – it’s impossible to make sense of oneself as dasein without already being able to make sense of others as cases of dasein, too.

We wondered about the sense of ‘with’ at issue here – is it that (i) a carpenter can only be a carpenter if there are others to purchase tables, produce hammers and so on (playing the other roles that make up the whole context of carpentry), or that (ii) a carpenter can only be a carpenter if there are other carpenters, such that the social role of ‘carpenter’ is available in the first place? We decided that both were involved in being-with others in a with-world. Recall that the with-which of equipment-use has to do with the other equipment involved in the relevant, purposive context (the nails and boards that go along with the hammer, say). This supports the idea that ‘with’ in ‘being-with’ has to do with other roles in the relevant context of existence (the carpenter’s boss, customers and co-workers, say). At the same time, being-with is supposed to capture the normativity involved in existence, the way that one’s way of life can be shared and lived in a common, standard manner. This supports the idea that ‘with’ in ‘being-with’ has to do with the possibility that (numerically) more than one case of dasein be able to live any particular way of life.

We briefly discussed being-alone as illuminating being-with: being-alone is not the opposite of being-with(-others), but a deficient mode of it that is possible only if dasein is essentially being-with. The reason is that being-alone is to be understood as being-with others in the mode of indifference or not mattering – which is also why the mere presence of more others doesn’t change one’s being-alone (one can be equally alone on a crowded bus as in an isolation chamber).

Finally, we flagged that, just as others are usually understood in terms of the work world, and so in terms of what they do, so too I typically understand myself in terms of what I do.

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