das Man

On Mon, 29 May 1995, Christopher Rickey wrote:

>
>A theme that recurs often is Vorlorenheit, or lostness in das Man.
>
>"What could be more foreign to das Man, lost in the managing, manifold
>'world', than the in uncanniness singular self thrown into the nothing."
>(277; all paginations are to the german edition and all translations are
>my own.)
>
>"The decisiveness means letting-oneself-be-called-up out of the lostness
>in das Man."(299)
>
>"Anticipatorily decided Dasein holds itself open for the constant, out of
>the grounds of its own being possible lostness in the indecisiveness of
>das Man."(308)
>
>"Now it is phenomenally visible before which fallenness as flight flees.
>Not before innerworldly beings, but rather straight to these as beings,
>by which managing, lost in das Man, can stay in calming trustedness."(189)
>
>"This uncanniness constantly pursues das Man and threatens, albeit
>inexpressedly, its everyday lostness in das Man."(189)

>I couldn't find another quotation I saw in another book to the effect
>that decision gathers Dasein back out of the lostness das Man. At any
>rate, Dasein is lost in das Man. Connected with this lostness is
>indecisiveness, everydayness, managing (Besorgen).

Let me begin by noting that I have found Christopher Rickey's
comments and observations concerning authenticity and das Man to be both
stimulating and helpful.

In my last posting (5/29/95) I argued that Dasein cannot "exist"
apart from das Man. I should acknowledge, however, that I also understand
(and believe that there is textual support for) the arguments of those who
claim that for Heidegger the achievement of authenticity involves a kind of
freeing oneself from das Man. But if this is the case, then I seem to be
facing either an interpretive dilemma or a contradiction: Either I must
choose between two apparently mutually exclusive readings of BT, or accept
the notion that Heidegger's treatment of authenticity involves a
contradiction. I think that both the dilemma and the contradiction can be
avoided if we follow Heidegger's admonition and refuse to try to understand
das Man in terms of the _Vorhanden_. More specifically, I think that
instead of trying to understand the relationship between das Man and
autheniticity in terms of a two-valued structural dynamic of in/out,
belonging/separated, etc.--a structural dynamic that is emphatically
spatial--we should search BT for intermediate concepts that either dissolve
or bridge this oppostion. (Perhaps many of our interpretive problems derive
from the inadequacy and misleading character of our language: "...it is one
thing to give a report in which we tell about _entities_, but another to
grasp entities in their _Being_. For the latter task we lack not only most
of the words but, above all, the 'grammar'" [BT 63; see also BT 209
concerning the "liberating of grammar from logic" and spatiality of
"significations"])
"Lostness" appears to be such an intermediate concept. The
critical issue in not whether Dasein is in or out of das Man but whether it
is lost or not lost (and even this latter dichotomy should be carefully
scrutinized). When Dasein is lost in das Man it is enmeshed in an
elaborate, tranquilizing distraction. This distraction has the effect of
keeping Dasein from recognizing and coming to terms with its own proper
nature as finite transcendance. When Dasein XbecomesX authentic, it does
not move out of das Man but "out of the lostness in das Man" (see passage
quoted above). (This is what I think Heidegger means when he says that
authenticity involves not a detachment _from_ but an "an existentiell
modification _of_ the "they"" (BT 168, my emphasis).) Das Man is no longer
"disburdening" Dasein of its Being (see BT 165); instead Dasein in its
authenticity--that is,in its abiding recognition of its proper mode of
Being--has become "answerable" for itself--Dasein must _decide_ for itself
within in the light of its own self-recognition. As I see it, this means
that ultimately the criteria for decisions must come from authenticity
itself. The content of these decisions--the available possibilities--must
come, however, by passing through das Man. Allow me to quote Heidegger at
length here:

"Proximally and for the most part the Self is lost in the "they". It
understands itself in terms of those possibilities of existence which
'circulate' in the 'average' public way of interpreting Dasein today. These
possibilities have mostly been made unrecognizable by ambiguity; yet they
are well known to us. The authentic existentiell understanding is so far
from extricating itself from the way of intepreting Dasein which has come
down to us, that in teach case it is in terms of this interpretation,
against it, and yet again for it, that any possibility one has chosen is
seized upon in one's resolution" (BT 435)

Of course, there are several problems with all of this--e.g., What
are the criteria given by authenticity?--but, again, if we keep within the
thematics of lostness we needn't approach these problems along the lines of
in/out, belonging/separate, etc.. In any case, enough for now.

--Chris Hargens




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