Szplug's Reviews > Being and Time

Being and Time by Martin Heidegger
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Nov 16, 2012

bookshelves: intermittently-reading

I am dipping my toes into this at random intervals—i.e., when I'm feeling particularly masochistic—and seeing what, from a very amateur layman-explorer point-of-view, I can make of this infamous beast.* Being familiar with Macquarrie from his exploration of Existentialism, I have decided to stick with the original translation—and copious footnotes—he concocted in partnership with Edward Robinson. I have a PDF copy of the recent Stambaugh revisionist translation (which does seem to flow fairly smoothly against the rocks of Dasein and Befindlichkeit) which I plan to use in comparison with the MQ&R trailblazer to see if I can take more out of it than Ich nicht verstehe and Gut Arglebargle!**.

I've been intrigued by the ideas—in the limited comprehension for such of which I am currently able—I've encountered during my forays into Heidegger's Basic Writings , if not so much the language through which I must toil to untangle them—but I fully expect B&T to be a crunchy headslog at a whole different level of ouch.

*The early screening consensus? Sweet fuck all.

**Taken out so far? Confirmation that I'm a moron.
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message 2: by knig (new)

knig The problem of defining Being arises from its universality. how can we begin to say/define what Being actually is when we cannot place it in a category of class or genus? Being is the most general and universal concept that exists so how do we go about defining it?

Kierkegaard accepts the paradox of being defining itself but H denies this: he believes a concept must be defined without reference to itself. I think that’s wrong. I agree with the following postulation) agree in the sense it was what H meant, not that I personally agree with the sentiment): the study of our own being becomes an inquiry and the inquiring consciousness becomes the dassein. Which is the exact opposite: it means I think that as dassein is the only being which can be aware of its Being (or essence), then only through study of our own being can we arrive at the awareness of this essence.

This poses, for me, a multitude of questions: if H accepts that dassein has no other essence apart from what it makes itself to be, and if (according to me), what we make ourselves to be is a moving feast, then of course the essence of Being can’t be a constant, it must by definition be a changing and evolving platform. And indeed some people seem to think that the Being unfolds itself at every moment through the understanding of dassein and is born newly every moment via the ability to be and the possibility to be. That’s all very well, but H also goes on to say that Being is prior to being, exists prior to rational and linguistic understanding. Do you see the dilemma here? His definitions sail between the Scylla of constancy and the Charybdis of subjectivity. If Being exists prior to being, then it can’t be shaped by dasein, enabled by the diversity of being. Because prior to dasein (or the moment when human beings become aware of their existence, which according to H is when they accept/understand death), Being would exist as a constant as there is no dassein to inquire of it.

I know H talks of different aspects of Being: that of daseein, the world and other objects. I don’t know what his view of other beings is: because they have no self awareness, how is it possible say for a rock to influence the constancy of Being?

Unless we are not shaping Being but the 'possibilty to become' : the essence that Daesin is uniquely aware of. One can bring into being, or realise these pre-existing possibilities and so shape what ‘actually is’, yet the 'possibility to become' was always already there prior to the actual happening. Being can also be interpreted as the 'possibilty to become' and thus enbales the diversity of being.
To sum up, H does not have a definitive definition of Being.

The question of temporality: it would have been nice if he had finished his thoughts on looks like not being able to conceptualise Being to his own liking, H now tries to define it through Time, another concept which can’t be classed in a class and genus. Here we may have a fallacy of argument: being and time are the same because you can’t have one without the other. Nuff said, anyone can see the glaring hole in that one, but to be fair H didn’t get a chance to formalise this concept, so lets give him the benefit of the doubt.

message 1: by AC (new) - added it

AC I can see, Chris and Knig, that I'm going to have a hard time understanding this. Steiner says, basically, don't look for logical consistency -- just allow yourself to get sucked into the whirlpool till 'you get it' - since H. really has just one basic intuition. Don't know if this is correct, of course, but it's not the kind of reading I'm used to....

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