authenticity (fwd)


There are some interpretative problems caused by simply poor readings;
some are caused by attempting to drag the text into a context in which it
simply does not fit; others, and these are the hardest to "correct" are
caused by ambiguities in the text itself. Heidegger's modes of
authenticity and inauthenticity belong in the last category, and it is
causing our recent (and yet we are repeating a long controversy) to and
fro over das Man.

The problem goes beyond Heidegger's admonition that we should not think
of authenticity and inauthenticity as moral values. Regardless of
whether that is in fact true (I have my strong doubts), the confusion is
still there even if we grant Heidegger's desire.

The problem is the ambiguity of authenticity and therewith of Dasein
itself. Dasein is both the whole of human existence AND a distinguished
way of being of this very existence.

As people who can read german (or are familiar with Derrida's objections
to the french translation) would know, the word translated as "authentic"
in english as "eigentlich", with the corresponding noun form
"Eigentlichkeit", contains the word "eigen", or "own" (french: propre).
As a metaphysical term, those categories designated as eigentlich are
therefore those that belong (gehoren, another big word in
Heidegger, even up to "The Principle of Indentity") essentially to
Dasein; in Aristotle, this would be being understood as ousia, or what is
the normal greek word for property (Habe, as Heidegger translates it).

Now the problem. Heidegger assigns even "uneigentlich" ways of being
to Dasein as "positive constituents," which is to say, properties that do
not belong to being belong to being.

This metaphysical confusion (if not even outright contradiction) yields
the further problem for Heidegger's overall project. He has to ways of
discussing categories in terms of eigentlich and uneigentlich. One is his
attempt to describe the whole of Dasein in such a way that eigentlich and
uneigentlich are merely two modes of being of Dasein's categories; for
instance, there are two modes of the past, two modes of the present, two
modes of the future. Again, this runs into the problem that uneigentlich
modes of being are part of the whole of Dasein, hence really eigentlich.
The other method, which comes from thinking about this last sentence, is
to derive the uneigentlich moments from the eigentlich; an example (among
many) is to derive untruth from the truth disclosed in the resolute
moment. The disclosure of truth is eigentlich, but then we fall back
into untruth.

Because the decision arises (in or immediately after, I'm not sure) the
unrelational experiences of Angst and death (our "ownmost" or "eigenste"
possibility), which individuate and cut off all connections (Bewandtnisse)
in which we are normally in our everydayness (das Man, facticity), it
means that authenticity is a mode that separates Dasein itself, in its
ownmost self, from its inauthentic moments, under which fall das Man,
Mitsein, world, relation to things, etc. When we are authentic, we are
cut off from many of those categories Heidegger nonetheless insists
belong to Dasein.

To sum up, Heidegger says that authenticity both excludes and includes
inauthenticity. It includes insofar as inauthentic categories belong to
Dasein as positive constituents. It excludes insofar as authenticity is
a mode of being that cuts us off from these same inauthentic categories.
Dasein is both the whole of human existence and a distinguished way of
being in this existence.

Incidentally, as far as the interpretative tradition goes, the
"phenomenological" approaches stress the inclusive reading, while the
"existentialist" readings stress the exclusive reading.






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