Monday, April 7, 2008

Being-In Discussion

As requested, here is Kate and Nate's discussion about being-in and the care chart.

The issue is how to construe being-in on the chart; initially, Kate and Nate differed on this. Here are the two options, with the relevant differences marked in bold in the asterisked row (click on the charts to see them full-size):

What's at stake in this?

The different ways of describing the chart's columns raise the question of how we are to understand being-in as such – that is, disclosedness itself. Option (i) is motivated by the thought that being-in as such is supposed to explain how dasein comports towards entities (in their being). Option (ii) is motivated by the thought that being-in as such addresses how dasein understands (the) being (of entities). Thus the issue is about whether we take what is important about dasein to be the fact that it relates to entities (in their being) or the fact that it relates to being (as the being of entities). Clearly, this is a question of emphasis. Although there may be philosophical consequences of reading SZ in one way rather than the other, our suspicion is that the stakes are primarily pedagogical.


On option (i), all of the columns together show dasein as ontico-ontological. The first two show the ontological and third shows the ontic dimension of dasein. On option (ii), the third column names fallen dasein as ontico-ontological, and the first two columns show dasein as ontological. There are two related issues here: first, whether the third (right hand) column should be characterised as (i) ontic or (ii) ontico-ontological; and second, whether the third column should be characterised in terms of (i) comportment towards entities or (ii) comportment towards entities as entities. This latter also affects how we fill out the left hand columns.

Our first concern was that describing the third (right hand) column as (i) ontic / comportment towards entities might be misleading in two ways. First, it may imply that there is a 'comportment towards entities' (ontic) that can be distinguished from 'comportment towards entities as entities' (ontological). But dasein's comportment towards entities just is comportment towards entities as entities (= comporting towards entities in their being). Putting these in separate columns may thus invite the following misunderstanding: dasein has an access to entities that is distinct from its comporting towards entities in their being; its understanding of being is mysteriously tacked on to an independent (perceptual, physical) access to entities, as a soul is tacked on to an animal body.

The second way in which option (i) might be misleading lies in the way that the left hand columns are described. On option (i), being-in as such is glossed as comporting towards entities as entities. But this obscures the fact that we only get entities in the picture when being-in is fallen (the third column). Being-in as such (the first two columns) is Dasein's disclosedness (projecting possibilities, finding thrownness, articulating intelligibility), which is its openness to being.

Option (ii) attempts to avoid both of these problems, but runs into equally serious problems of its own. First, it addresses the second problem by describing being-in as openness to being rather than comportment towards entities as entities (i.e. in their being). But this risks severing dasein's openness to being from its comportment towards entities, and so implying that dasein's disclosure of being is some kind of mystical communion distinct from its everyday dealings with entities. Being is always the being of entities, so an openness to being is always an openness to entities in their being.

Option (ii) addresses the first problem by describing fallen dasein not as ontic, but as ontico-ontological. Dasein never simply relates to entities apart from its comportment towards them as entities (i.e. in their being), so is never merely ontic. Identifying the right hand column as ontico-ontological makes clear that it is a modification (via falling) of the left hand columns, rather than an addition to or substratum for them. It emphasises that the columns cannot be understood separately. The problem with this is that it might not be clear what the 'ontological' columns add to the picture, if the right hand column is in itself (ontico-)ontological.

So the problem is basically this: given that the chart is supposed to show dasein as ontico-ontological, and given that it is through falling (the right hand column) that dasein's understanding of being connects up with the ontic, do we characterise this right hand column in terms of the "whole" that is realised in it (ontico-ontological) or the "part" that is contributed by it (ontic)? Similarly for the left hand columns. In other words: given that in making a chart we have to draw lines through the insoluble unity of dasein's being, where do we put the lines? Do we take Dasein as the (ontic) entity that understands the being of entities (ontological), or as the understander of being (ontological) that grasps being through entities (ontico-ontological)?

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