Re: Gravity and Light (das Man)

On 5-18-95 Christopher Rickey wrote:

> According to Heidegger,
>traditions had become entlebt (or lived out), devoid of life, spirit, and
>stuck in cold formulas. What was needed was a way to break the
>encrustations built up into systems of philosophy through philosophy as a
>way of living; one turns from philosophy to philosophizing. Although of
>course hostile to the dominant neo-Kantianism of the time, Heidegger
>could be seen as more revitalizing traditions than destroying them, to
>give them life by factically living them (adopt them as one's own
>existence). This would come close to your interpretation.
>Now the problem. Das Man is obviously negative, just from the rhetoric alone
>used in the section. Heidegger calls it a tyrant. Does it solve the
>problem to merely incorporate the tyranny as one's own? (Is it possible to
>appropriate an external tyrant?) What is the relationship between the
>Destruktion of traditional categories and the tradition itself? How does
>one revitalize a tradition by tearing it down? (Yes, I've read Gadamer's
>objection to this reading, but I find Heidegger's deconstruction far more
>destructive than Gadamer's, as his later rejection of metaphysics
>shows.) Lastly, what is the relationship between existentiale,
>existentielle, factical, and concrete in this case, when das Man looks
>very concrete (lord, he complains about the press), in fact, a concrete
>example of the Mitsein from the previous section? Or does he merely fall
>prey to what many of his critics charge (see, for example, Arendt), that
>he equated sociality with inauthentic and bad life and could never see
>the positives of social existence? (It is not an accident that Arendt
>attempted a revival of the public; she knew who her opponent was.)

I agree. There is a problem-das Man does seem to irredeemably
negative. One way to deal with this problem is to break down the uniformity
of das Man. In effect, this is what Hubert Dreyfus does in his
book,_Being-in-the-World_, when he attempts "to make sense
of...[Heidegger's] notion of the heritage" (Dreyfus, 328). Allow me to
quote Dreyfus quoting Heidegger:

"The resoluteness in which Dasein comes back to itself, discloses current
factical possibilities of authentic existing, and discloses them _in terms
of the heritage_ which that resoluteness, as thrown, takes over. (435)
[383] (Dreyfus,328)

Now according to Dreyfus, das Man "has three effects: banalizing,
disguising, and preserving" (328). The first two effects he characterizes
as "kinds of leveling" (328). We might say that these are the negative
effects of das Man, inasmuch as they militate against the achievement of
authenticity. The third effect of das Man, however, is positive--it is to
preserve "_marginal practices_ that have _resisted levelling_" (329).
Presumably, such "marginal practices" are what constitute the "heritage".
According to Dreyfus, "[s]uch alternative possibilities, precisely because
they do not make good, average, everyday sense but rather seem
old-fashioned, trivial, or meaningless, would neither be undermined by
anxiety nor leveled by the public. They would therefore attract authentic
individuals" (329).
Unfortunately, I'm going to have to cut this very short. Let me end
by noting that Dreyfus himself is critical of Heidegger's account. (See

--Chris Hargens

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