Re: Das Man

I haven't been doing much on this list lately, but now that I have some
time and there seems to be some interesting stuff going on (as usual!)...


Steve Martinot writes:

>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 man

>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.

T think we need to be careful about our speaking in regards to Das Man and
inauthenticity/authenticity. Das Man isn't something that Dasein ever 'is',
but is something that it falls into. We couls start dpeculating about our
own inauthenticity and its role in the 'pervasiveness' of Das Man, but this
would start leading us into something like an ethics. In Being and Time,
which is text I'm most familiar with, I don't think we ever see this kind
of step being taken.

>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.

I'm not sure that Das Man even 'does things', although this could be a
direction that Heidegger's thought calls out to be articulated in. If
Heidegger spoke of Das Man as doing anything it would certainly shed
light, for me at least, on the issue of his personal life.

Also, it occurs to me that if the bureaucracy is somthing that Dasein
'loses itself' in, analogous to Das Man in this way, we still have to
be careful of saying that Dasein has 'done something' inauthentic.
In authenticity, after all, is not just a deficient mode of Dasein's
being as contrasted to authenticity, it is also something that Dasein
in every case already is. In order to start talking about authentic
'stratifications' of Dasein, we'd have to find a way to deal with the
fact that Dasein is always inauthentic and not just at times.

Tony Dowler

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