Monday, February 18, 2008

Winter, Week 5 Meeting - Part II

Falling (§38)

is a movement that belongs to thrownness – it is dasein's falling away from itself into the world and absorption in entities. This ‘away from’ is not a failure to be dasein, but is part of what it takes to be dasein. Kate suggested that we understand falling as like a drag on thrownness that connects dasein up with the world of entities. Note that the characterisation of being-in thus far has been primarily at the existential-ontological level, illuminating the being of dasein by showing how it discloses being. But being is always the being of entities, and dasein is the entity that discloses being (it is ontico-ontological). Falling is supposed to account for the fact that (i) dasein always takes place as an entity in each case, and (ii) its understanding of being is always the understanding of the being of entities.

Thus Heidegger says that falling “is used to signify that Dasein is proximally and for the most part alongside the ‘world’ of its concern” (SZ 175). This ‘alongside’ is an ‘absorption in …’. So falling involves being swept up in intraworldly entities. This begins to explain what it means to say that dasein falls away from itself. We recalled Heidegger's previous discussions of dasein's tendency to misunderstand itself as being just like the intraworldly entities that it deals with in the everyday world. In this misunderstanding, dasein loses its grip on the way in which it is different from other entities. So in being fallingly absorbed in its dealings with intraworldly entities, dasein misunderstands itself and in this sense falls away from itself.

We also noticed that in being absorbed in concernful dealings with entities, we typically discover them in the way that das Man does. This is because we are thrown, and so fall, into das Man. Human life wouldn't work if we came to it as blank slates and had to confront and discover entities by ourselves with nothing to go on. We always start from our tradition's ways of finding and understanding entities.
For reasons that we will come to later (namely, death), das Man tends to cover over the way in which dasein is different from other entities. Thus das Man embodies and exacerbates dasein's fallen tendency to misunderstand, and so fall away from, itself.

Since falling is an existentiale, it must characterise dasein regardless of whether it is authentic or inauthentic. So the standard interpretation of falling as equivalent to both inauthenticity and everydayness cannot be correct. We found it difficult to discuss falling in a way that remained neutral between authentic and inauthentic falling, in part because Heidegger almost always talks about falling in its inauthentic mode, and never discusses authentic falling at length. This makes it hard to see what falling itself, and authentic falling, are. What is it to be authentically absorbed in the world of concern? or to be authentically determined by das Man?

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