The Heideggerian Alternative: Part I


As inaccessible as Heidegger’s work Being and Time may be, it is of vast significance in terms of the history of philosophy, and the alternative perspective it provides. Reading Heidegger requires complete immersion in the new language he creates. What makes him even more challenging is that there are dozens of different interpretations of the terms he uses. In what follows you will come across terms such as Dasien, Being-in, the clearing, it’s-there, etc., that I will not try to clearly define as that in itself requires an entire post. Maybe we will come back to this at some point in the future. Instead, what I will try to provide below is an alternative conception of how we understand a shared world.

In Chapter 5 of Being and Time Heidegger turns his attention to being-in. He situates Dasein in the world and looks at what it means for a Dasein to be-in the world. One of the reasons Heidegger does this, is in order to address the basic phenomenological fact that Dasein is in the world in some particular situation (context, or even particular moment), and experiences the world from some particular place, or there. In situating Dasein as such, the problem previously discussed in Part III is unveiled.

The problem in Heideggerian terms, can be described as follows: In each Daseins’ activity of clearing (i.e. its activity of opening up a space in which things can be encountered and intelligible), Dasein opens up a shared space (i.e. the clearing), yet Dasein only has its own individual perspective of this shared space (i.e. its-there).The question then is, how are we to understand Dasein in the shared world (in the clearing, or activity of opening up a space in which things can be encountered and intelligible) and as having its own perspective of the world (i.e. having its-there), without falling into the traditional view which assumes a substance ontology, and some variety of representationalism? In normal English, how can Daseins share a sense of the shared world? Furthermore, how is this possible if we remove the mind-body distinction, and traditional subject-object relationship? How is it that when two people speak about rose, they are able to understand each other?

In my next post I will suggest that a solution to this problem requires an analysis of benfindlichkeit because it is this structural element of being-in that allows Dasein to be in a shared world (i.e. the clearing) and have its own individual world (i.e. its-there).

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