on the other hand...


In the last two days I presented an outline of what I think Heidegger's
project in Being and Time was. Like a good scholastic debator, though, I
can argue the other side, too. I do the same thing when I teach, the
effectiveness of which may be doubted.

The question is: what is disclosed when Dasein discloses its "there" and
what is the relation of this disclosed there to the world in which Dasein
already is?

In Being and Time there is a parallel between disclosure in the Umwelt
section and the later disclosure in the authentic moment: both take place
after a break in the smooth fabric of existence (leading one commentator
to say that authentic Dasein's world is one where all the hammers are
broken).

In our normal going about our managing world, we use tools without really
giving thought to the relations (Bewandtnis) in which they stand. The
worker has the tools, the customer, a goal, and so forth, but this stands
in an almost immediate relationship to the worker. To put it another
way, the goals are set and carried out in response to the immediately
given world; Bob the customer places an order, which then is the goal for
the worker, or perhaps Bob places an order for himself and his wife,
which means that the worker has a larger goal to satisfy. The worker
then goes about fulfilling this goal.

This "short-sighted" concernful work is broken by a missing tool, or a
tool that is not Zuhanden. Not only is this break the origin of the tool
as a Vorhandene thing (and hence science), but it also reveals a larger
picture, or the Bewantniszusammenhang of the Umwelt. Not only does this
missing hammer cause the worker to reflect on the connection of relations
regarding the immediate goal of producing shoes, it might also disclose
the relationship between not fulfilling the order and not eating.

Whether or not Heidegger allows the worker to reflect on the meaning of
life from the missing tool, the point is that the world-disclosure in
this case is the actual environment in which the worker already stands,
but now in its wholeness, rather than in its immediate, short-term
goal-oriented coveredness.

If the broken tool does not give us the access to the meaning of life,
our confrontation with Angst and death does. It shifts the focus from
the Bewandtniszusammenhang of our Umwelt to the Bewandtniszusammenhang of
the whole of Dasein. Like the missing tool, our confrontation with death
breaks up the connections in which we stand, in this case the
interpretation of das Man (even if das Man is all of our possibilities,
it is at any rate a lousy interpreter, always covering up, distorting,
disguising, darkening) to disclose the "there", which in this case, would
be precisely the situation in which we already are. What is disclosed is
not another world, but the world in which we stand as it is in its
totality. In this sense, the goal of Being and Time is to account for
the possibility of knowledge of the whole, not to change it.

What I find difficult in this is the status of das Man: is it the world
in which we stand or a bad interpretation of the world in which we
stand? To put it another way, is the world that is revealed a specific
cultural arrangement or human existence (nature)?

One parallel would be Marx. The workers, under the dominant
interpretation of the bourgeoisie, understands the economic relations of
capitalism which oppress them as natural laws; however, Marx's new
understanding reveals them as a particular historical configuation, which
is thus subject to revolutionary change. The parallel between this part
of Marx and Heidegger's account of throwing off the dominant
interpretation of das Man has allowed many to read Being and Time as a
type of critique of ideology. This parallel follows option 1, that what
is revealed is a cultural arrangement, and not necessity.

Because Heidegger always (well, since 1919 anyway) insisted upon the
essential historicality of Dasein, option 1 seems in line with his
project. What is missing is an account of the dissemination (or real
change) of a new interpretation. It comes off, as some critics charge,
of an aesthetic flight from real, material revolutionary change, or, if
one doesn't want to measure Heidegger by Marxist standards, it leaves
unexamined how a new interpretation becomes accepted, something that the
philosophy of science has been working on ever since Kuhn's book was
published.

Chris



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