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Heidegger's concept of death

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message 1: by Noone (new)

Noone | 6 comments Hi people,
I'm interested to see what other people think of Heidegger's usage of the word "death". Does he attribute a special meaning to this term or does he use the term as it is commonly understood?
What do people think? A lot of commentaries I come across seem to interpret Heidegger as intending the word to be understood in it's usual sense.

message 2: by Ian (new)

Ian | 8 comments I think the second half of Being and Time push for it to be understood as the ultimate confrontation with nulity and it is that which death is as our ownmost, what opens the world in authenticity as the only confrontation wecannot share.

message 3: by Noone (new)

Noone | 6 comments Hi Ian, I think I agree with everything you said, but I think I asked my question in a wrong way. Everybody knows what death means, and Heidegger must intend this everyday understanding when he uses the word death, but in Heidegger's philosophy death is the death of what? Lots of things in the world can die, so is Heidegger's death merely the end of a/your human biological life (which seems to be a common interpretation), or rather is it the death of dasein as being-in-the-world? If the latter is correct then this suggests that it is possible that death can occur several times within one's own life, though it is also possible that it might not occur at all.
What do you think?

message 4: by Onur (new)

Onur Öztürk Hi Todd and Lan,

As far as i know Heidegger's terminology for biological death is "to perish", so i think you are right in that "death" is for dasein only.

Our biological body is a must for our dasein, so we cannot talk about a dasein connected to a perished body. But death of dasein is somethning else.

In my own opinion, parallel to you, Daseins may die several times. However i am not sure if Heidegger tries to tell this by "death".

In my opinion if you are totallt merged in everydayness(everybody) you are death already in some sense but if you can be authentic in some way you realize your ownmost existence.

Ultimate ownmost is death which cannot be merged into everydaynes and shared with others, any dasein has to face its death by itself.

I would like to hear further thoughts,

message 5: by Ian (new)

Ian | 8 comments Hello!

I'm uncertain how Heidegger would feel about treating death in terms of the biological or in human terms. Maybe I'm letting his later works affect my framing (although his later works don't disagree with the earlier ones except in method). If we start talking about death outside of the terms and experience of dasein we begin to breakdown the phenomenological framing. So for Heidegger dasein experiences death authentically and primordially as the confrontation with nulity. These other senses of death are less primordial additions we add on in attempts to understand.

Onur, this is an interesting point on dasein 'dying' more than once. I don't remember that or didn't take that way from Heidegger. Are you taking inauthentic being in the world as death? Can you remember where that is from?

It's interesting because I understood Being and Time as actually not morally against inauthenticity, many times Heidegger states that. And authenticity is grounded in inauthenticity. There's never a moment of complete radical authenticity because our historical epoch's limits are what we work within. Our own authenticity is usually a taking on of our epoch not rejection. And even when rejecting our society it's within the limits of the possibilities of the epoch.

message 6: by Onur (new)

Onur Öztürk Hi Lan,

That is only my thinking and i didn't take it from Heidegger, maybe inspired from him. (By the way, i still cannot say i grasped what heidegger says anyway)

Avregage everydayness is foundational to dasein, i agree, we born inside it. However, we can only face our death if we escape from everydayness.

There is no "death" in "us", merging ourselves into everydayness with others we only leave ourselves into illusion of immortality,

message 7: by Onur (new)

Onur Öztürk Hi Lan,

That is only my thinking and i didn't take it from Heidegger, maybe inspired from him. (By the way, i still cannot say i grasped what heidegger says anyway)

Avregage everydayness is foundational to dasein, i agree, we born inside it. However, we can only face our death if we escape from everydayness.

There is no "death" in "us", merging ourselves into everydayness with others we only leave ourselves into illusion of immortality,

message 8: by Ian (new)

Ian | 8 comments Hey Onur,

That's fair enough, I think that metaphorically it definitely feels that way about everydayness. Heidegger's also talks negatively about inauthenticity even though he then says there's no moral judgement.

The issue of inauthenticity is so hard, because of being born, thrown-into-the world. When it comes to authenticity where do you develop and learn (basically what you were saying), but when it comes to death, and being towards your own most, authentically, I actually think that what many times is called inauthentic is what tends to bring itself forth as the authentic. The issue is the call of care of your heart, in silence without trying to put concepts or words on it that misconstrue, or lead you to a path that's not your own. But what comes after meditating on death, as a Hedeggerian, that is usually those very traditional, yet powerful, and deep drives. Usually for me it manifests itself in fairness or knowing my own personal decisions. After meditating this way I find I'm no radical, that the call of care of heart, if I've found, has no surprises (but in a good way).

message 9: by Noone (last edited Feb 28, 2016 11:44PM) (new)

Noone | 6 comments Hey Ian,

You've mentioned nullity quite often in this discussion, but haven't explained what you understand Heidegger as meaning by that term. Could you please explain what you understand Heidegger as meaning by "nullity" because I think in doing so you will shed light on your interpretation of Heidegger's concept of death.


message 10: by Ian (new)

Ian | 8 comments Hey Todd,

Oh course, no sweat. Nulity as in this ultimate sense of nothingness (they use that term I think in my translation of Being and Tine). This is relates to authenticity in that Dasein has no grounding ultimately, but it can take up its own grounding. I don't remember all the details of that aspect, but it had a very atheistic tone in that there is no purpose handed down by god. Now because nulity is the truth of dasein it is important, but equally death is nothingness also. Since death cannot be shared, the anxiety you feel toward it is authentically yours. When you meditate and embrace this anxiety without putting other intellectual frameworks on it, letting it be and letting beings then stand out to you on a primordial level, you connect with your ownmost call of care, what is really yours. Because we're taught and indoctrinated in a culture this very ownmost is still other. Authenticity is grounded in Inauthenticity.

message 11: by Noone (new)

Noone | 6 comments Hmm ok... it seems to me like you're talking about death as that thing that will happen to each of us at some time (the end of our life in other words) that we have to face and cannot share. Heidegger actually uses "demise" to designate this, what I think you're calling "death", when he says that:

"Dasein too can end, without ownedly dying, though on the other hand, qua Dasein, it does not simply perish [eg as animals do]. We designate this intermediate phenomenon as its demise." page 291 in English

What do you think?

message 12: by Ian (new)

Ian | 8 comments I think I see where you're going with this quote. Let me say that I mean Death in reverse of how I must have come across, not in the merely demise sense. The authentic confrontation with death, being toward death is our only guaranteed access to the authentic (at least in Being and Time, there's other ways in later Heidegger). So this quote maybe addresses better this aspect I ignored. The demise aspect that is being brought up (I think my translation also uses a different term), demise is the factical finitude, the ultimate over powering care, which grounds access to authenticity in Being and Time.

message 13: by Noone (last edited Jul 08, 2016 06:02AM) (new)

Noone | 6 comments What would you think if I said I think by 'death" Heidegger must mean an existential death, and as an existential death it must also be ontological; an existential-ontological death in other words.

It is existential because dasein cannot exist in death, in the sense on moving forward in life, projecting, living out self understandings, being, being-in-the-world, etc.

And death is ontological in that it reveals to dasein one of its equiprimordial ontological aspects, that of "being-possible". Though, in the experience of death, as a break down situation, being-possible has become being-impossible. The equiprimordial aspect "being-possible" is thus explicitly revealed phenomenologically precisely through its impossibility. While you might still 'be' in the world, so to speak, and still 'be' very much alive, you cannot be or exist in the world as such. You are dead to the world.

What has died are the self understanding(s) that you were projecting into, This might happen in one way or another. But anxiety would be the associated mood or attunement.

message 14: by Ian (new)

Ian | 8 comments I would say that we're pretty much in agreement. My only concern is doing Heidegger justice in his terms. We getting close to that line where the ontic and the ontological directly effect each other with death, so I want to be cautious there, and not commit to the wording, but definitely to what I take you to mean. When you said this I felt like we were back at nullity.

message 15: by Noone (last edited Apr 16, 2017 11:02PM) (new)

Noone | 6 comments Some more thoughts... If death is the death of dasein, then how can death have anything to do with the death of the person? I don't think it can, at least not in any conceivably necessary way. And if dasein is ontologically the entity that understands being and not the ontical person, then the death of dasein is precisely the death of an understanding of being, of intelligibility and not the death of an ontical person. Only in this sense is death a kind of existential nullity/impossibility -- these two words signify the same thing.

message 16: by Kenneth (new)

Kenneth | 1 comments Hiya,

I had my own comments at this topic:
I'd be glad to respond to the rest of the discussions at a future date. :)

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