Thursday, May 29, 2008

Spring, Week 7 Meeting -- Part II

Primordial Temporality

We began with a major interpretive question, which we raised but did not resolve: Is Heidegger simply setting us up to explain what being means to dasein, the sense of being as dasein understands it? or should we understand his goal to be setting us up to explain the sense of being, itself (as such, in general), independently of the terms in which dasein might happen to understand it? One way to ask this question is to ask whether the ‘setup’ provided by fundamental ontology—explaining how being is intelligible at all to dasein by interpreting dasein’s being in terms of time—ever gets ‘discharged’ so that we are simply left with being’s intelligibility simpliciter (dasein’s understanding of it notwithstanding).

We then wondered what kind of phenomenon primordial temporality is. Jim pointed out that there are two obvious ways to understand 'time': the linear temporal sequence measured by clocks (now-time, clock time, the ordinary conception of time), and time as it is experienced in the context of our daily activities (which Heidegger calls 'world-time'). Since Heidegger is going to derive both of these from primordial temporality, this latter must be something else entirely. We suggested that if primordial temporality is supposed to ground both the time of science (and present-at-hand entities) and the time of concern (and so ready-to-hand equipment), then it cannot be an experienced phenomenon but must be part of a structural explanation of how dasein as concernful being-in-the-world is possible. This makes it theoretically analogous to the structure of self-consciousness or the constitution of the soul or psyche, since these are not experienced as such but are rather what makes any experience possible at all. Since Heidegger has argued that, considered purely as a structure, anticipatory resoluteness (authenticity) is the condition of possibility of being-in-the-world, it follows that at this level of abstraction, anticipatory resoluteness is identical to primordial temporality. That is to say, both anticipatory resoluteness and originary temporality play the same role, as the condition of possibility of dasein. (This is, for example, why Heidegger can argue that primordial temporality is finite, by virtue of the fact that authenticity is also finite as being-towards-death.) Accordingly, we went on to explore primordial temporality by considering the structure of anticipatory resoluteness.

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