Thursday, January 31, 2008

Winter, Week 3 Meeting - Part II

I.V: Being-in and the There (§28)

We began by recalling the way in which being-in is unified with the 'who' (I.4) and 'world' (I.3) to form dasein's basic constitution: being-in-the-world. Nate drew John Haugeland's infamous coin diagram, which shows the who and world as two sides of a coin, the metal of which is being-in. We noted that the three structural moments of being-in (understanding, findingness and discourse) should each be understood as helping disclose both dasein’s ‘who’ and ‘world’ at the same time, since these are the two sides, faces or aspects of being-in. That is to say, things like moods (and, as we will see when we discuss understanding, possibilities) let both dasein and intraworldly entities show up. We compared this interrelation of dasein and its world, as illustrated in the coin diagram, to Heidegger's suggestion that if we insist on talking in terms of subject and object, then dasein is the being of the 'between' between the two (even though this can still carry misleading connotations of literal spatiality).

Being-in was introduced briefly in §12, which argued that it is not a spatial phenomenon (as if dasein were present inside something larger), and that it is manifest in engaged activities such as producing, attending, looking after, undertaking, considering. We briefly wondered whether these are cognitive phenomena, and decided that to the extent that they seem to be so, Heidegger will explain this feature in a way that does not appeal strictly to the mind or its acts. Heidegger's explanation of how such comportments towards entities are possible is in I.5, in which he outlines the structural features of dasein's very openness or being-there.

Da-sein is to be (sein) the there (da). We read the passage on SZ133 in which Heidegger introduces the there as the clearing or dasein's disclosedness. The key point is that dasein is not closed off like a Cartesian subject, but is open – indeed, it is openness. In other words, dasein is the 'space' or 'light' in which entities can show up or remain hidden. This openness is the there or the da. We suggested that the account of the structure of the there – of dasein's disclosedness – will be Heidegger's answer to traditional accounts of (self-)consciousness.

We listed several phrases Heidegger uses to try to characterize dasein’s being:

  • Dasein is the clearing (or being-lit-up).
  • Dasein is its disclosedness.
  • Dasein is its ‘there.’
  • The essence of dasein is existence (to be dasein is to exist).
  • To be its ‘there’ is (in each case) an issue for dasein.
  • Dasein is essentially constituted by being-in-the-world.

These all seem to exhibit a rough sense of equivalence, so that what we understand about one phenomenon (clearing, disclosedness, the there, existence, being-in-the-world, being an issue) should shed light on our understanding of the others.

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