Re: Gravity and Light

On 5-15-95, Christopher Rickey wrote:

>According to the standard
>interpretation, authenticity comes when the individual rips himself free
>from the dominant interpretation of das Man through the confrontation
>with death and wanting to have a conscience. The question then is how
>Heidegger then gets to geneneration and Volk in section 74. Usually,
>this is dismissed as sort of an optional, personal idiosyncracy on
>Heidegger's conservative, Catholic upbringing or whatever. I would argue
>that if self=world, then the opposition relevant in Being and Time is not
>really individual vs. society, but rather community (Gemeinschaft) vs.
>society (Gesellschaft), and thus that the introduction of Volk later is
>not incidental, but the point of the book.

Some comments: First, according to Heidegger,

"_The "they" (das Man) is an existentiale; and as a primordial phenomenon,
it belongs to Dasein's positve constitution_" (BT 167).

"_Authentic Being-one's-Self_ does not rest upon an exceptional conditon of
the subject, a conditon that has been detached from the "they"; _it is
rather an existentiell modification of the "they"-of the "they" as an
essential existentiale_" (BT 168).

The point here I think is that das Man is always already there. As
an "existentiale"-a defining feature of "existence" as such-it is
ineradicable. As long as Dasein *is* Dasein,there is no self to detach or
rip free. The "modification" that achieves authenticity, therefore, is not
existential but existentiell. In other words, it is a modification that is
achieved _within_ the structures of existence, not outside them.
But what is this modification? In the above passage, Chris tells us that
"according to the standard interpretation, authenticity comes when the
individual rips himself free from the dominant interpretation of das Man
through the confrontation with death and wanting to have a conscience."
What is wrong with this "standard interpretation"? If this interpretation
were to claim that "the individual rips himself free from" das Man itself,
then this interpretation would be clearly opposed to what Heidegger himself
has said. But this is not what is being claimed. What is being claimed is
that the individual achieves authenticity when he/she "rips himself free
from the _dominant interpretation_ of das Man" (my emphasis). This claim,
it seems to me, is consistent not only with what Heidegger says in the
above passages, but also with his treatment of the "everyday" versus the
"existential conception" of death. The point here is not that Dasein frees
itself from das Man, but that it frees itself from the interpretation of
death that is perpetuated by das Man. In resoluting facing its anxiety
about death, Dasein finds that das Man's intepretation of death has fallen
away. In becoming authentic, Dasein realizes that it can no longer
tranquilly float through life, but must take charge of its own fate. But
this fate can only be articulated through and within the structures given
by das Man-or more specifically, within the destiny of a generation. Does
this mean that Dasein must again fall prey to the inauthenticity of
everydayness. No, not on Heidegger's account. According to Heidegger,
authentic Dasein can choose a "hero". One way of putting this would be to
say that authentic Dasein, in contrast to inauthentic Dasein, _knowingly_
enters and inhabits the interpretive structures offered by das Man. Or
perhaps one could say that authentic Dasein has invested in these
structures, but unlike inauthentic Dasein, it has invested with its eyes
open rather than blindly. This (admittedly a hurried oversimplification) is
how I understand Heidegger's statement that "_authentic Being-one's-Self_
is ... an existentiell modification of the "they"-of the "they" as an
essential existentiale_" (BT 168).

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