Re: Das Man


Well, I'd like to go back to the discussion of "das Man" for a moment.
Tom says:

"the sense I get concerning Heidegger and Das Man is that it is an
interpretive principle that CAN be brought to bear, but has more of an
"optional" character than Heidegger's style suggests. ... and ...
Das Man is rarely, if ever, unstratified. Rather, we find "types" in
Das Man: let's look at sixties American Dasein. Das Man as,
variously: pigs, the establishment, people who are square, unhip,
prowar, etc. Where can you have the "undifferentiated many"?


I would think that to associate das Man with particular (even
stratified) political positions or lifestyles is to leave out of
consideration the fact that there are other positions or styles (e.g.
one's own), and they are also das Man, and just as inauthentic in terms
of the thinking that Heidegger wants to philosophize through Dasein.
It is also what Sartre philosophized through his notion of bad faith.

I would think that one could not posit a connection or bridge between das
Man and the authentic, because they exist on opposite sides of the
ontological difference -- that is, I am understanding das Man to be
Heidegger's term for people in the ontic (rather than a questioning
in the ontological). Thus, it would not be a question of whether the
Many were differentiable or not, but the extent to which "they"
(whoever) and "their" thinking were objectified or not. That is, das Man
is already a level of interpretation, as is the authentic.


And Chris adds:

""Man" in german means "one" as in the third person impersonal singular
pronoun. "The They" is misleading because it gives an Orwellian
dimension to it that is missing in the german. It is not "They" who
are responsible, as if the world were under the thrall of some
internationalist conspiracy or another, but no one. A very, very
similar articulation can one find in certain writings of Karl Marx, who
attributes quite a causal effect to something called capital - NOT
capitalists - but capital."


And this sounds to me like das Man, in its obviating responsibility,
even in the singular, is really a metaphor for bureaucracy -- or
bureaucracy is a metaphor for das Man. A bureaucracy does things for
which no one can be or is to be held responsible, and in which
individuals operate as cells in a body. It is not like "obeying
orders," because there is an absence or non-engagement that marks the
bureaucracy -- what it doesn't do. It is in this sense that the
bureaucracy turns people into objects, into the ontic, as functions.
And what would be consistent with this is the operation of ideology,
that operating ideologically, within the purview of its givenness of
interpretation, would be congruent with bureaucracy. In both, one
becomes a they, in a structure that is the impersonal, the One. In
effect, in this confluence of the "they" and the one, one has das Man.

Steve Martinot




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