Thursday, May 29, 2008

Spring, Week 7 Meeting -- Part IV


We then turned to Heidegger's characterisation of temporality as the finite temporalising of the ecstases. Heidegger describes temporality by saying that the future makes present in the process of having been – or, more literally translated, temporality is the beening, presenting future (SZ 326). We noted that the future (Zu-kunft) is to be understood as 'coming-towards' (zu-kommen), and that it has a priority over the present and having been (the past). We can see this priority, for example, in the fact that for a stacker, the book shows up as something-to-be-put-away (present) on the basis of a self-understanding as a stacker (the future), rather than vice versa. Heidegger also says that having been is grounded in the future – and presumably he means that our past is what it is only on the basis of how we take it up in projecting ourselves into the future.

We then went on to consider the ecstatic character of temporality. "Ecstasis" comes from the Greek, and means 'standing-out.' So when Heidegger says that temporality is ecstatic, he means that it stands out – and it does so in three 'directions' or 'ecstases' (future, having been, present). Further, temporality is "the ekstatikon pure and simple" (SZ 329), where this means that there is nothing from which temporality stands out (a self-contained substance, say). Rather, temporality just is this movement of standing out. So too for Dasein – whose essence, recall, lies in existence (ex-sistere, to stand out).

Nate pointed out (anticipating our reading for the next meeting) that each ek-stasis has a horizon, and that looking at those horizons might give us some helpful clues for making sense of how temporality is ecstatic, what it means to be an ecstasis, and how this feature of the structure of originary temporality is supposed to be apt for interpreting dasein’s being. The horizon of the future ecstasis of time is something intelligible in terms of the ‘for-the-sake-of’ relation; dasein is futural insofar as it somehow ‘comes toward’ itself in existing for-the-sake-of-itself. The horizon of the past ecstasis of time is that in the face of which dasein has been thrown; dasein is ‘beening’ (or ‘having been’) insofar as it finds itself thrown into its existence and world and finds this mattering to it, for instance through moods. The horizon of the present ecstasis of time, Heidegger says, is something intelligible in terms of the ‘in-order-to’ relation; dasein presents (or ‘makes present’) insofar as intraworldly entities show up to it intelligibly, which is to say, insofar as it deals with (or comports understandingly toward) the ready-to-hand and present-at-hand in existing. From this we concluded that the structure of these temporal ecstases will make more sense if we can figure out what sorts of things can count as (a) that for the sake of which dasein exists, (b) that in the face of which dasein finds itself thrown and (c) that which can show up to dasein as fitting into a series of in-order-to relations constitutive of dasein’s concern.

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