Re: Das Man

On Mon, 29 May 1995, Tony Dowler wrote:

>I 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.

Doesn't Heidegger tell us that Dasein in its everydayness is das Man?
Doesn't he also tells us that das Man is "an existentiale; and [that] as a
primordial phenomenon, it belongs to Dasein's positive constitution" (BT
167)? To speak of das Man as "something Dasein falls into" is to suggest
that Dasein can "exist" apart from das Man. But if das Man is an
existentiale for Dasein, then it is ontologically constitutive for
Dasein--Dasein apart from das Man is NOT Dasein.

As I see it, here is one of the BIG problems with Heidegger's account of
das Man: Heidegger wants to claim that das Man is an existentiale, one that
"belongs to Dasein's positive constitution." Further, he also claims that
"authentic Being-one's-Self" is "an existentiell modification of the "they"
[das Man]". In light of these two claims, the reader of BT seems justified
in concluding that das Man is something that authentic Dasein cannot reject
but must come to terms with. YET, as Christopher Rickey has pointed out,
"das Man is obviously negative" and "looks very concrete...,in fact, a
concrete example of the Mitsein from the previous section" (Rickey, posting
5/18/95). But if das Man is irremediably negative AND if it is shot through
with the concreteness of Heidegger's own cultural-historical situation,
then how is the reader who wants to become authentic (or at least make
sense of authenticity) supposed to come to terms with it? How is he/she
supposed to carry out "an existentiell modification of the "they""? By
purging it of its negativity and concreteness? Does Heidegger offer us
guidance here, or does he merely leave us--as he is sometimes wont to
do--to our competing interpretations?

--Chris Hargens
PS---I should note here that there is no problem with concreteness as such.
The problem emerges when the reader attempts to separate out the concrete
(or particular) from the universal. I should also note that I touched on
some of these issues in an earlier posting, but received no response. Allow
me to include the final portion of that posting here:

If das Man is an existentiale does this mean that its "characters of
Being"--i.e.,"everyday Being-among-one-another, distantiality,
averageness,levelling down, publicness,the disburdening of one's Being, and
accommodation"--are exhibited in all cultural-historical formations? Is
this what Heidegger is claiming? If not, then why doesn't he make it clear
that his account of das Man refers only to particular formations? To be
sure, he does tell us that "[t]he extent to which its dominion becomes
compelling and and explicit may change in the course of history" (Ibid.).
But this statement concerns the _character_ of its dominion, not its
presence or absence. (And what does he mean by "compelling" here?)
Let us suppose that Heidegger's account of das Man is a
particularization, one that reflects his view of society in Germany, and
Europe as a whole, during the early part of this century. Now let us also
suppose that the negativity that is a consequence of his particularizing
could be purged from Heidegger's account. What effect would this have on
his account of authenticity? Is his account of authenticity compelling and
convincing primarily because it stands in sharp contrast with the
"characters of Being" of das Man? For example, if das Man were not a
complex of "characters of Being" which necessarily compel Dasein to turn
away from death, but instead a complex which could lead Dasein to come to
terms with death--in this case, death as both an individual AND social
phenomenon--then wouldn't Heidegger find it difficult to maintain his
pivotal distinction between the everyday and the existential conceptions of
death? Again, is Heidegger's account of the everyday conception of death
universally applicable, or are there exceptions--e.g., cultural formations
that incorporate BOTH the everyday (in a positive sense) and the
existential conceptions?




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