Re: das Man



> "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)
>

I too have been stimulated by this discussion, and it helped me to
rethink a line I generally dismissed as a throwaway line. If we follow
what is said about das Man being an existeniale (category) and
eigentlichkeit being a existentielle modification of this category (and
by implication, Uneigentlichkeit also being a modification), then that
more or less says that publicness is a necessary category of Dasein with
either authentic or inauthentic modes.

Good, now my problem. If das Man is really a category and contains all
of the possibilities of the set of public life, it also designates a
particular subset of these possibilities, mainly the covered over,
average ones. Heidegger opposes the interpretations of death and
history, for example, offered by das Man to his own (I would presume
these would be the authentic ones); if there is a difference between
interpretations (possibilities) given by das Man, and those given in an
authentic disclosure, I can't see how these second possibilities can be
part of the first set. In short, he would be using the same term for
both the full set and a subset of this set, a confusion that, in my
honest opinion, would go beyond terminological confusion and into
conceptual confusion.

My solution to this problem actually returns to my original suggestion:
that the operative opposition is not between public and private, but
between two types of publicness. In this sense, "existentielle
modification" would not refer to leaving das Man, but changing das Man,
hence the public world. One cannot eliminate the category, but one can
change its interpretation (its modification). Further support for this
reading is found in the Letter on Humanism (I don't have the english
pagination) where in bringing up das Man, Heidegger insists that it is
not opposed to a private world, which he terms "privative" in character,
but leaves unspoken what it is opposed to.

If I find this solution less than satisfying, it's because it doesn't
really eliminate the problem I found above, but finesses it. We come out
of the "lostness" of das Man into - the authenticity of das Man? If no
German would come up with this solution, it's because "man", as the
impersonal third person singular pronoun, cannot become "jemeinig" (mine)
without changing from "man" into "Ich" or "Wir". To become "jemeinig" or
even "gemeinig" (I invented that word, don't look it up) means to change
subjects to a personal one. To put it another way, my solution, although
I think it finds textual support both in Being and Time, as well as texts
both earlier and later, improves Heidegger's own expression of his
thought, instead of following his thoughts.



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