Re: authenticity again

On Wed, 14 Jun 1995, Christopher Stewart Morrissey wrote:

> "Inauthentic" is not supposed to be pejorative. Heidegger makes this
> clear in the SS 1927 "Basic Problems of Phenomenology" lectures. (I
> mention this because I happen to be rereading them.)
> To dismiss Heidegger is just as superficial as to champion him.

Who's dismissing him? I'm trying to understand him.

Heidegger interprets Plato's Parable of the Cave (in GA 34) in the
following way. First, we are slaves to the shadows, which we take to be
the things themselves. The slaves are slaves because they cannot
experience the beings as beings, which arises only out of the turning to
the light, which is being. Moreover, Heidegger understands this taking
the shadows to be the beings themselves as "the beings, that we busy
ourselves with daily," or what he also calls living in "Betriebsamkeit".
This slavery has a direct connection to das Man, Verfallenheit, and thus

There is a way out of this slavery. We must climb out of the cave and
face the light itself as light. Heidegger interprets light as the being
of beings. In turning to the light, we become free. "To become free
means to understand being as such, which understanding allows first of
all beings as beings to be."(60) To understand being means to
project/sketch (entwerfen) being, which is the lawfulness
(Gesetzlichkeit) of beings in their being. Heidegger gives three ways in
which the project of being happens: natural philosophy, history, and art
and poetry. He calls this stage "the highest" because in this Entwurf
are beings "das Unverborgenste," the most unconcealed.

This "grading" of truth (Heidegger's own word) is important. He insists
that truth admits of levels. There is the truth of everyday living,
which corresponds to slavery, and then there is the truth which is the
most unconcealed, which corresponds to that being which has turned to the
light and understands being as such. Who matches that description?
Heidegger. I will admit that Heidegger seems to have modified this a
little, in that (as he says here) the philosopher is concerned with the
"question of being", and perhaps later assigned the Seinsentwurf to the
poet, but at this stage, to ask the question of being is itself the

Heidegger allows himself a little modesty. He does not assert that he is
the philosopher, but only that the philosopher is the free human; since
his description of what the philosopher does matches what Heidegger does,
I dismiss that as false modesty.

What about the philosopher? Heidegger says, "Who is now this man of the
Parable of the Cave? Not man in general and universally, rather that
quite determined being, who comports himself to beings as something
unconcealed and is in such comporting himself unconcealed." "Man outside
of philosophy is something quite otherwise." These lines point to
something important to understanding Being and Time, and in fact, all of
Heidegger's thinking: the essence of man is not something shared by all
humans, but only by the few. Essence is a possibility that belongs to
the species, not each individual in the species. This accounts for his
talk of Seinkonnen, being able to be, and further his line that we become
what we are. We, as humans, are that species that CAN understand being,
and hence we become human only when we understand being as such. In
this, we become what is our ownmost. How do we become what we are?
Through philosophizing, which is to say, by asking the question of
being. We thereby take up our ownmost possibility and become authentic
(later Heidegger will say, we rest in our essence). Heidegger even uses
the word "existing" (and even "ex-sisting") to describe what it is to be
human, something he equates with his own task as a philosopher. "To
carry out the difference (between beings and being - CR) would be to be
human, existing."(37) and we are the man in the Parable of the Cave when
we "exist," which means "exposed (ausgesetzt) to beings in the
whole."(77) (I cite this in part because he uses that language here of
the Letter on Humanism and his later philosophy in general; remember,
this is 1931). When we put this together, it means that to philosophize
is to exist, which is to be human in accordance with that which
distinguishes humans from other beings, it ownmost (eigenste) or
authentic (eigentlich) possibility.

Far from dismissing Heidegger out of hand (that would come only after I
understood him), I'm trying to understand what he is saying. I was quite
serious when I said that Being and Time is a description of the criteria
by which we recognize that Heidegger is THE authentic human, because he
is the one who takes up (ubernimmt) the ownmost essence of being human.
Because there are grades of truth, there are corresponding grades of
being human. The authentic human is the one with the most truth, which
is to say, the one who understands being as being as well as the
corresponding difference of beings and being. The authentic human is the
most free. And this person is Heidegger.


--- from list [email protected] ---


Partial thread listing: