Monday, March 3, 2008

Winter, Week 8 Meeting - Part II

Angst (§40)

The limit-experience of Angst is supposed to reveal the unity of dasein’s being in care. Recall that to identify the being of an entity, we need to look at dasein’s disclosure of its being, since dasein is the entity that understands being. So to get at the being of dasein, we need to consider dasein’s self-disclosure. However, because it is falling, dasein has a tendency to misunderstand its own being. We need an experience in which dasein discloses itself in a way that does not involve misunderstanding, and so an experience which disrupts its falling. Angst is such an experience because it involves a breakdown in the everyday, public world into which dasein falls.

Angst is a mood or mode of findingness, and so involves the same three structural moments as fear (§30). But unlike fear, the in-the-face-of-which that threatens in Angst is not an innerworldly entity approaching from a definite region. It is completely indefinite and poses an indefinite threat. (Compare the anxious portions of horror movies before the bad guy is revealed, in contrast to the fearful scenes following this revelation). Since it is no thing, what threatens is nothing. And since it does not approach from anywhere specific in the world, it is nowhere. There is nothing in particular that we are anxious about; rather, we are anxious in the face of everything and nothing. In colloquial language, we might say that we are anxious in the face of the fact that there are meaningful things and that we have to deal with them. This is to say that the in-the-face-of-which of Angst is the (everyday, fallen) world. Thus Angst discloses the ‘amidst-innerworldly-entities,’ or falling, dimension of care.

The about-which of Angst is dasein’s authentic ability-to-be-in-the-world. Consider fear again: that about which one fears is oneself – one is afraid for one’s specific lifestyle, bodily integrity, or property. But in Angst, that which threatens is indefinite, so that to which it poses a threat is also indefinite. One is not anxious about any of the particulars of one’s fallen, worldly life, but about the fact that one has such a life at all. This reveals that cases of dasein are in the business having lives – that is, of projecting themselves onto possibilities. (We suggested that one might have such an anxious realisation after graduating, or at any point at which one must make ‘life choices’). This is the revelation of dasein’s authentic self, and so of the projective or ‘ahead-of-itself’ moment of care.

The final moment in the structure of moods is the mood as such – fearing itself, or Angst itself, as disclosive. Although Heidegger barely mentions it, since Angst is a mood it involves the disclosure of moodedness itself, and so the ‘already-in-a-world’ or finding aspect of care.

There was some discussion in the meeting about whether to map this last moment of Angst onto ‘amidst-innerworldly-entities’ / falling (on the grounds that the mood of Angst is an experience within a life that disrupts falling). If we did this, the in-the-face-of-which of Angst (the world) would go with the ‘already-in-a-world’ moment of care (on the grounds that already-being-in-a-world belongs to thrownness and facticity). We decided that the reading outlined above is more compelling, although Heidegger does not make it clear exactly what he has in mind.

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