das Man

Well, let's try something novel and look at the text. I looked in the
index to Sein und Zeit (it's an actual book, published separately,
because God forbid we actually put some basic philological tools to help
us understand a text with the text itself. It's somewhere between
amusing and mystifying that the editors of the Gesamtausgabe brag that
the GA has no philological tools, whereas it is normal practice to study
the Bible with a concordance, as if Heidegger's words were loftier than
God's. Oh well, enough venting...)

The index indicates whole sections devoted to das Man (usually in the
sense of "vulgar" interpretations of important existential categories:
death, conscience, history; but also four sections under Verfallenheit
(35-39)), as well as individual sentences in other sections; it
additionally refers the user to other categories such as Verfallenheit,
Alltaglichkeit, Uneigentlichkeit, Entfremdung. Note that this neutral
philological devise is indicating a strong and systematically negative
connotation to this "neutral" existential category.

A theme that recurs often is Vorlorenheit, or lostness in das Man.

"What could be more foreign to das Man, lost in the managing, manifold
'world', than the in uncanniness singular self thrown into the nothing."
(277; all paginations are to the german edition and all translations are
my own.)

"The decisiveness means letting-oneself-be-called-up out of the lostness
in das Man."(299)

"Anticipatorily decided Dasein holds itself open for the constant, out of
the grounds of its own being possible lostness in the indecisiveness of
das Man."(308)

"Now it is phenomenally visible before which fallenness as flight flees.
Not before innerworldly beings, but rather straight to these as beings,
by which managing, lost in das Man, can stay in calming trustedness."(189)

"This uncanniness constantly pursues das Man and threatens, albeit
inexpressedly, its everyday lostness in das Man."(189)

I couldn't find another quotation I saw in another book to the effect
that decision gathers Dasein back out of the lostness das Man. At any
rate, Dasein is lost in das Man. Connected with this lostness is
indecisiveness, everydayness, managing (Besorgen).

The bigger picture yields the surprising result that das Man and
fallenness are similar phenomena, and by fallenness Heidegger means
facticity.

"To the facticity of Dasein belongs closedness (Verschlossenheit; the
opposite of Erschlossenheit, disclosing) and coveredness."(222)

"The rising into das Man means the lording of the public
interpretedness. The discovered and disclosed stand in the mode of
distortedness and closedness through idle talk, curiousity and
ambiguity."(222)

Idle talk, curiousity and ambiguity are the three modes of fallenness.
These are also the characteristics of das Man. This is also the facticity
of Dasein. In the schema of time exstaces in Being and Time, facticity
and fallenness belong to the present. We are lost and strewn in the
present. Heidegger equates this with living in untruth. Now he insists
here, as he always will later, that untruth belongs to truth and vice
versa, but in the framework here, the world is disclosed to Dasein, which
then falls back into untruth, or das Man.

What Heidegger is up to (and what gives the traditional interpretation
its right) is how Dasein finds itself out of its lostness in das Man and
facticity in such a way as to ground the possibility of its very lostness
itself. A theological parallel would be how humans can find God after
the Fall. That Heidegger comes up with a far different method than
Christianity goes almost without saying.

The two (or three depending on how one counts Angst) ways are conscience
and death. In all cases, these ways out are opposed to lostness in das
Man. Also, in all three cases, Heidegger treats and dismisses the
inauthentic, public interpretation of the three ways. He spends two
sections dismissing the common understanding of death to open up a space
for his own interpretation, which is anticipatory being toward death.
This comportment to death which he desires gives to Dasein its
authenticity to make its free decision. In short, Dasein is free only
when it passes through the experiences of Angst, conscience and being
towards death (not death itself), to come to its ownmost self, which is
the guarantee of its free decision. All of this takes place quite
explicitly in opposition to das Man.

This is the basis of the traditional interpretation. As far as this
basis goes, I believe it to be unchallengable. It is the further step
that the tradition makes that I find quite challengable. The experience
of Angst and being towards death "vereinzelt" or individuates Dasein.
Our death is always our own, in fact, ownmost, possibility. Death is
"unbezuglich" or unrelational (and hence individual). This appears to
leave Dasein in its moment of ownmost authenticity an islolated ego, free
to choose whatever, or whatever its conscience demands. Again, if it is
opposed to the public, what can it be other than a private matter? The
trouble is, this runs against Heidegger's explicit strictures:

"The decisiveness does not loosen up the Dasein as authentic being-self
from its world, does not isolate it as a free-hovering I. How should
this be otherwise - when it is authentically as authentic decisiveness
nothing other than being-in-the-world."(298)

As I understand it, the differences in interpretation arises over the
ambiguity of the word "world," which refers both to the factical world
that is there, and to the horizon of meanings that worlds as the there.
We free ourselves from a particular there (the lordship of das Man) by
opening ourselves to the worlding of world. In short, in authentic
decision, a new world is disclosed, in which we already are. The change
is not from public to private, but between two worlds, a change which must
nonetheless go through the deciding individual.

There is a question of what exactly this new world is. How is it new?
What are the limits of change (or of interpretation)? Is it in fact
alterable through this method (as opposed to Hegelian labour), or is this
in fact merely an aesthetic justification of the existing situation, a
rose in the cross of the present, to cite another Hegelian motif? I have
no answers to this because I vacillated between a revolutionary and
anti-revolutionary understanding of Heidegger's project, an indecision I
ground in his own indecisiveness as to the possibility and nature of
radical change.




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