Heidegger on Man and Being

Written by on July 5th, 2013. Subject: Philosophy. Filed in Metaphysics, about Heidegger Ontology Existentialism

|||Heidegger, Martin, and David Farrell Krell. Basic Writings: From Being and Time (1927) to The Task of Thinking (1964). New York: Harper Perennial Modern Thought, 2008.|||

Martin Heidegger We intimated that a pre-ontological Being1 belongs to Dasein2 as its ontic3 constitution. Dasein is in such a way that by being, it understands something like Being. Remembering this connection, we must show that time is that from which Dasein tacitly understands and interprets something like Being at all. Time must be brought to light and genuinely grasped as the horizon of every understanding and interpretation of Being. For this to become clear we need an original explication of time as the horizon of the understanding of Being, in terms of temporality as the Being of Dasein which understands Being. This task as a whole requires that the concept of time thus gained be distinguished from the common understanding of it…In contrast we must show, on the basis of the question of the meaning of Being which shall have been worked out, that–and in what way–the central range of problems of all ontology is rooted in the phenomenon of time correctly viewed and correctly explained. pp. 60-1.

Let us attempt to examine what is going on in this text. Martin Heidegger does not make this an easy task. His goal in Being and Time is to start anew the project of metaphysics. Knowledge of Being is his ultimate goal, but he does not like the previous attempts at metaphysics. If we start with a pre-metaphysical notion of Being, which we call “facticity”, then it is a property of all existing things. How do we first encounter this Being, though? For Heidegger, the first step is taken by the person thinking. What is the first Being we come to know? Ourselves, of course. In the experience of our lives, we are conscious of the experiences we have, the “what-might-have-been” and the “I’m-lucky-that-happened” moments. These and other types of experiences (possible or fulfilled) have led us to where we are today. The accumulation of all of these Heidegger would call (using the term technically) experience. As rational beings, we are aware in a unique way of the world around us. When we combine the experience and our rational nature, we become Daseins. The Being most accessible to us in an ontic fashion is our own Being.

As we move forward from our starting point, the first step is into temporality.4 The division of beings into temporal and spatial, temporal only, and neither temporal nor spatial has widely been accepted to this point. However, according to Heidegger, the basis for this division has never properly been explored. Not only is temporality a way to divide being, but it will also be part of the answer to the question, “What is Being?”

It seems to me that this account of the beginning of metaphysics falls closer to natural philosophy than the higher science. When Aristotle explored the idea of being as being, it was with the intention of removing all parts of being, including motion. As Heidegger searches for the ultimate meaning of Being in general, his method sure has many changeable parts. On the one hand, the inquirer himself is changing in his Being as he contemplates different things. On the other hand, Being cannot be separated from temporality. Even with a unique approach and new starting point, it seems that Heidegger’s existentialism will ultimately keep him from succeeding in his quest to discover the meaning of being as being. He is unable to perform the separatio that allowed better metaphysicians to explore the most universal aspects of being.

About Brandon Bridger

Brandon Bridger graduated from the College of St. Thomas More. He is currently doing graduate course work in philosophy at the Catholic University of America.

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  1. “Being is always the Being of a being.” p. 50

  2. On Dasein, “Thus to work out the question of Being means to make a being-he who questions-perspicuous in his Being. Asking this question, as a mode of being of a being, is itself essentially determined by what is asked about in it-Being. This being which we ourselves in each case are and which includes inquiry among the possibilities of its Being we formulate terminologically as Dasein. The explicit and lucid formulation of the question of the meaning of Being requires a prior suitable explication of a being (Dasein) with regard to its Being.” pp. 47-8

  3. On ontic versus ontological, “Dasein accordingly takes priority in several ways over all other beings. The first priority is an ontic one: this being is defined in its Being by existence. The second priority is an ontological one: on the basis of its determination as existence Dasein is in itself ‘ontological’.” p. 55

  4. “The meaning of the Being of that being we call Dasein proves to be temporality.” p. 60