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Books and Authors > Being and Time

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message 1: by Billy (new)

Billy Candelaria (azriel) | 7 comments anyone read or reading this book?

message 2: by Tyler (new)

Tyler  (tyler-d) | 444 comments I haven't read it, but I hope someone here has. I'd like to know more about what Heidegger is saying. Sartre refers to him frequently in his own book. Are you reading it now?

message 3: by Tyler (new)

Tyler  (tyler-d) | 444 comments Here's the link to the book.

message 4: by Robin (new)

Robin (goodreadscomtriviagoddessl) is it being and nothingness or is there another book entirely?

message 5: by Tyler (new)

Tyler  (tyler-d) | 444 comments Hi Robin --

Yes, it's another book altogether. Being and Time come out around 1927 and was written by Martin Heidegger. One interesting theme of the book is called mitsein, or what it means for us to live among other people. Another interesting point Heidegger makes is that that a person can give his own death meaning within his life, so that in a sense you can "manage" your own mortality. I'm not familiar with these concepts, so if I'm mistaken I hope people who know Being and Time will explain it better.

Then there's another book, Being and Nothingness, written by J.P. Sartre in a Paris cafe about 1943. The title sounds similar to Heidegger's book because Sartre wants to add his own twist to what Heidegger said. In a nutshell, one of Sartre's themes is how "nothingness" penetrates being, whereas with Heidegger "nothingness" envelops being, sort of the way space envelopes our Earth.

message 6: by Robin (new)

Robin (goodreadscomtriviagoddessl) Thanks, Tyler.

message 7: by Billy (new)

Billy Candelaria (azriel) | 7 comments Robin wrote: "Thanks, Tyler."

currently i'm reading it very slowly and i let the text speak to me and reflect on it

message 8: by Tyler (new)

Tyler  (tyler-d) | 444 comments I'll bet this book does have to be read slowly to be understood properly. Let us know how it's going.

message 9: by R.a. (new)

R.a. (brasidas1) | 21 comments I don't know if this might help.

Opposite from most philosophical texts which engage in "system building." Heidegger's form and method is a reversal—a "'hermeneutic' funneling or sifting.

So, he begins with his subject "Being" and essays to "peel away" to attempt to "make clear" what it is. From there, 'bumping' into time becomes inevitable.

The reading WILL be slow. It is a very different approach to a philosophical question than most 'up to that point,' anyway.

Good Reading.

This is, incidentally, a favorite.

message 10: by Rob the Obscure (new)

Rob the Obscure | 261 comments As a lifelong reader of philosophy, here's a question that frequently erupts into my mind, and is erupting now in this thread:

Does anyone have a fucking clue about what the significance of this distinction is in our short-term, fleeting lives?

message 11: by Tyler (new)

Tyler  (tyler-d) | 444 comments Which distinction?

message 12: by Rob the Obscure (new)

Rob the Obscure | 261 comments Heidegger's take and Sartre's take.

And I didn't mean to imply that the basic question I posed only rears its head in the discussion of ontology. I meant it frequently erupts in philosophical discussions and debates - of any ilk.

message 13: by Tyler (new)

Tyler  (tyler-d) | 444 comments I can't answer that because I know only about Sartre's take. I take it from B&N that Sartre provides an all-encompassing account of consciousness and he uses Heidegger's account as a starting point.

Apparently, Heidegger's account of the phenomenon is inadequate to explain consciousness in its every aspect although many of his insights are on the mark. I've never read that he attempted to refute Sartre's account, anyway. Both accounts are comprehensive, so each author had something to say about all branches of philosophy. It's this completeness that makes them interesting.

Here's an example of how it might make a difference: Can you own your own death? Maybe, maybe not, depending on which philosopher you follow. Sartre dismisses the idea, but Heidegger takes it seriously and explores it at length. It would make a difference in your life because you would put your affairs in order differently depending on which of the two made more sense to you.

message 14: by Rob the Obscure (last edited Apr 10, 2011 04:47PM) (new)

Rob the Obscure | 261 comments Tyler wrote: "I can't answer that because I know only about Sartre's take. I take it from B&N that Sartre provides an all-encompassing account of consciousness and he uses Heidegger's account as a starting point..."

Thanks Tyler. Here's a few thoughts. I've come to a place where I'm trying to drive down past the surface fog and nice flora and fauna to get to the roots:

1. Really, truthfully - why is it important to "explain consciousness"? What difference will it make that your explanation is this or that at any given time? Why not just experience consciousness? When asked what is the nature of consciousness, rather than blathering on for 900+ pages, why not just say "consciousness is what I experience and feel on a daily basis" and leave it at that. all seriousness, when you get beyond that is there really anything being said that is of value in one's daily life?

2. Is the question, "can you own your own death?" of any significance whatsoever? Isn't it rather obvious, in terms of experience, that we have no option but to "own" our own death? That death is going to be OUR death - no one else's. So, here today, gone tomorrow - for the person that experiences it, "owning" it seems inevitable in the end. I honestly don't see how there is another reasonable answer, and if one came up with one, how it would change the process of "putting one's affairs in order." Just to be clear - there are many approaches to "putting one's affairs in order." But I don't see how they hinge on the question of "owning" one's death.

message 15: by Bill (new)

Bill (BIll_B) | 188 comments Robert wrote: " Really, truthfully - why is it important to "explain consciousness"? What difference will it make that your explanation is this or that at any given time?...
Is the question, "can you own your own death?" of any significance whatsoever?"

Can't a wider or deeper understanding, which comes by way of explanation, of anything, help one to experience it in wider and deeper ways?

Existentialists believe that fear of death is a huge factor in our lives. That people also avoid this fear. I think this might be what is meant by 'owning it'. Death is such a big issue, I can understand why some would feel that contemplating it, and even practicing ones own death would be desirable.

message 16: by Rob the Obscure (new)

Rob the Obscure | 261 comments Bill,

good points. From that perspective, coming to terms with death is certainly important. Maybe ferreting out the difference between Sartre and Heidegger will help with that...but I have my doubts.

message 17: by Tyler (last edited Apr 13, 2011 09:02AM) (new)

Tyler  (tyler-d) | 444 comments Hi Robert --

You're questions are difficult for me to answer. They fall in a general category such as, "Why do we even study philosophy?"

So I'll offer a general answer: It helps make a person a better thinker about the subject at hand. I cannot explain (or remember) every chapter of Being and Nothingness, but in Sartre's defense I'll say I don't think he could have made his own book much shorter. In explaining consciousness, Sartre delves into every aspect of philosophy, talking about things as varied as the Eleatic's position on motion, or the existential importance of a woman's breasts as she lies naked and supine.

In my case, I got the feeling from the first pages that this author was going to take thinking to its uttermost limits, and that fascination is what it took for me to persevere through it. Not every book that dense will do that; I certainly wasn't as moved by The Critique of Pure Reason as so many are. But I think when the right person finds the right author for the things he's thinking about, what that author has to say can be much more meaningful than for a reader who can't connect. The same must be true for Being and Time.

message 18: by Simon (new)

Simon (prince_myshkin) | 3 comments I read Being and Time as the 'textbook' for my existentialism class, and we barely got through the first half of it, and I read the rest by myself.

I consider it one of my absolute favorites - Heidegger's explanation of phenomenology is amazing, and what he says about care and time make perfect sense, at least when introduced to a young reader. I really enjoy the ideas of thrownness, of relating to others phenomonologically though care, potentiality etc... and his discourses on idle talk and discourse. His explanations on the necessity of death and phenomenological reality + necessity of time is eye-opening.

I have to say, I would have had a lot of trouble reading it were it not for my professor,who was one of the best philosophy professors I've ever encountered. The text is SO damn thick and unreadable.

message 19: by Tyler (new)

Tyler  (tyler-d) | 444 comments I'm glad you've gotten through the book and can talk about it. We've needed someone in the discussion who's had that exposure and knows more about what Heidegger is saying in the text.

The idea of "throwness" comes up with Sartre, too. It's a fascinating way to look at the human condition. I remember reading also that one of Heidegger's original points was how human reality is "covered" by a veneer of distraction, and that it's an important task for humans to try to pull back this covering of everyday existence to get at the authentic conditions of human life. At least, I hope I've got that right.

message 20: by Simon (last edited Apr 27, 2011 07:14AM) (new)

Simon (prince_myshkin) | 3 comments That's why Heidegger wrote a lot about technology and agriculture as well. The whole authenticity thing shows up throughout Being and Time, as in, discourse as the way to uncover authentic existence (vs. idle talk), care as the only authentic way to phenomonelogically de-severing yourself from others, etc, etc...

I'm actually strongly considering dropping everything else I'm reading and re-reading Being and Time in its entirety. Last time I read it was about 3 years ago. The problem is while I just finished Timeline by Michael Crichton in less than 72 hours, re-reading Being and Time would take upwards of 3 months...

I think Kant's Critique of Pure Reason and Heidegger's Being and Time should both be compulsory reading for anyone reaching the college level of education. They should be read with people who know what they're talking about, and should be explained to everyone. I strongly believe the ideas in these two books are powerful enough to change anyone's life and actually interest every single human being once they cut through the linguistic difficulty barrier.

A funny anecdote about Being and Time - When we started reading it in class, my Existentialism professor "forbade" us from looking up any information about Martin Heidegger, promising us to satisfy our curiosity on the last day of class. Like most people, I didn't know much about the man, and for some reason, mostly due to my professor's insistence and my respect for him, I actually didn't look up anything about Heidegger the entire semester. On the last day of class, he explained to us the whole Nazi controversy.

It was a great way to ensure that we read and understood the philosophy without prejudice, while at the same time making sure we know all the information in the end.

message 21: by Tyler (last edited May 01, 2011 10:44AM) (new)

Tyler  (tyler-d) | 444 comments Authenticity is one of the unique contributions this book makes to existentialism.

I understand what work it takes to re-read a book like Being and Time because I had the same experience with Sartre. The thing to said in favor of re-reading these books is that the concepts and the world view laid out in them are simply so compelling they are impossible to resist. When you read books like this you're aware, even while reading them, of the unprecedented beauty of the exposition. The authors leave no stone unturned in their quest for a complete philosophy. The feeling of reading such a book is not easy to describe to someone who hasn't read one.

I'm impressed at your professor's approach to Heidegger. I think he was right, and it's logically important to separate the idea from the personality that created it. Celine wrote Journey to the End of the Night, a brilliant book I would never have read if I had known he later became a hard line fascist. Levy thinks that happened because Celine lost the razor sense of good and evil that drove his writing, but the book remains excellent.

Along the same line, people blame philosophers of the 19th century for laying the ground for 20th century totalitarianism. But I don't think a philosopher can be held responsible for every conceivable use to which his work might one day be put, especially since politicians tend to cut and paste only the parts they like from philosophers.

message 22: by Rhonda (new)

Rhonda (rhondak) | 47 comments It is worth noting that beyond the greatness of Being and Time in and of itself, it is worth mentioning that this path (which was supposed to have a second part) was given up by Heidegger. His later path in which some suggest he abandoned the pragmatic Dasein and focuses more on the manner in which our consciousness of being is revealed. It is then less about structure and more about language, history and poetry. I credit Heidegger with opening my own eyes to the greater understanding of poetry as both a moving element in society as well as a forecaster or prophet.
As far as earlier "absolutist" philosophers, it is difficult if not impossible to read Being and Time without being thoroughly grounded in both the first Critique and The Phenomenology of Mind (or as it is sometimes translated, Spirit.) It also seems true that because Hegel dominated philosophy for so long, the entire remaining 19th centuury was devoted to the backlash against idealism, including Marx, Kierkegard and Nietzsche on the continent as well as Bentham and Mill in the UK.
Still with all the reaction to Kant and Hegel, (and Hegel's reaction to Kant is certainly a great part of this) the effects of the great men show through in Heidegger, although his differences with Hegel on both spirit and time are critical for understanding his work. Much of the language is similar, although various terms are either redefined or substantially enhanced. As a further example, I recall that Heidegger's treatment of the imagination in Sein und Zeit is almost a mere amplification of Kant's treatment of the subject in the first Critique.

message 23: by Tyler (new)

Tyler  (tyler-d) | 444 comments Hi Rhonda --

His later path [...]focuses more on the manner in which our consciousness of being is revealed. It is then less about structure and more about language, history and poetry.

Is it this that you think is the most enduring part of Heidegger's legacy? If so, what do you see as the most interesting aspect of Being and Time?

message 24: by Tyler (new)

Tyler  (tyler-d) | 444 comments Hi Patrice --

I repeated your question in the Literature folder as well. Many members of the group must have read this book and I'd like to find out what they think about it.

message 25: by Rhonda (new)

Rhonda (rhondak) | 47 comments Tyler wrote: "Is it this that you think is the most enduring part of Heidegger's legacy? If so, what do you see as the most interesting aspect of Being and Time?"
You ask a puzzling question, one which is difficult to answer without writing a book. However, I think the answer has two parts: first there is a tremendous legacy from Being and Time because it inspired others, particularly Sartre and Merleau-Ponty, to continue his work. It was also continued in a variety of other disciplines. More than anything, B&T reacquainted western thinking with the concept of being, as I believe he explains on the opening page.
Lastly, although fundamentally begun by Scheler, Dilthey and especially Husserl, Being and Time is the high watermark of the sanguine reply to those who who were taking a different path, such as the Positivists. While we read of people such as Wittgenstein denying that history has anything to do with his way of thinking (something with which Husserl would probably, strangely, agree) Heidegger's legacy, in my opinion goes far beyond Being and Time.
Indeed, when one reads such works as "What is Called Thinking?" along with "Country Path Conversations" and "Discourse on Thinking," one is shocked by how simplified Heidegger's ideas first seem. Still these books offer, in my very humble opinion, both the source for the greatest study of Heidegger's legacy as well as provide for the most difficult study. I believe the latter is true simply because one must sift through so many historical thinkers, including Augustine, Plato, Kierkegaard , Nietzsche and Husserl, as well as others, to be open to what he is saying. It exists in layers like that of an onion.

It is not so much that I believe that Heidegger failed to create a structure by which we can understand the nature of being in Being and Time, but that his later work gives us an historical backdrop by which, if it is possible at all, the subject of consciousness can be understood as a process of one's own sense of personal growth.

message 26: by Tyler (new)

Tyler  (tyler-d) | 444 comments Hi Rhonda --

Your remarks remind me that without Being and Time, Being and Nothingness could not have been written. I didn’t give due consideration to the second point, the contemporary popularity of the Vienna Circle and Logical Positivism. I read one of Carnap’s positivist essays some time back and noticed an afterword in which he greatly modified the implied claims. I wondered at the time what criticisms had brought that about.

the subject of consciousness can be understood as a process of one's own sense of personal growth

There’s a nicely concise point to help understand the thrust of Being and Time.

Thanks for your excellent and helpful remarks on Heidegger’s work.

message 27: by Historybuff93 (new)

Historybuff93 | 7 comments I just recently finish Being and Time. I felt I went through it a bit took quickly, and I will return to it again some time.

Although I don't agree with Heidegger--I'll go into this more later (it's rather late here)--Being and Time was an interesting read. The question of being is an interesting and very legitimate one. I also think Heidegger puts too great a value on language. Sorry if these are really short, I'll expand on them in the morning.

message 28: by Tyler (last edited Jun 22, 2011 08:19AM) (new)

Tyler  (tyler-d) | 444 comments I'm interested in the question of being, too, so I'll be interested in hearing what you think about B&T and on what points you disagree with Heidegger. Do you think he over-emphasized the importance of language and words?

message 29: by Historybuff93 (new)

Historybuff93 | 7 comments Sorry, this has taken me so long, Tyler, and the briefness of this post--it's rather late here.

First, I think Heidegger's question of being is a very interesting and completely valid question. But, I think that he approaches it in the wrong way. I question if being can be approached in the way of it being something universal (and that is the same to all people). In my view, I can define my own being, but I don't think that I can for you or someone else--as this is a deeply personal matter.

Heidegger defines being as (according to wikipedia) "what determines beings as beings, that in terms of which beings are already understood." If my memory is correct, it is here that Heidegger goes into Daesin (which, I remember correctly, is a kind of gateway to understanding being). Again, it seems to me that this making a very individual question into a general one.

One language and Heidegger on language ... I think that he does over-emphasize the importance of language. I have my own theory on language, which is rather different than Heidegger's. I would like to go into my theory, but I'm currently writing a treatise on it--and plan on trying to publish it--and would rather not disclose it publicly just yet. Sorry about that.

Again, all this is from memory--I don't have B&T at hand now also--so I may have gotten things wrong.

message 30: by Tyler (new)

Tyler  (tyler-d) | 444 comments Hi Historybuff93 --

Thank you for your analysis of Heidegger and being. I think I understand his approach a little better. I'd guess that he approaches being by moving from the particular to the general in order to draw conclusions that are universally valid; but as you point out, a problem then arises in reference to human subjectivities. I would expect this problem to be even more apparent with the discussion of Dasein and Mitsein, which I take to be subjective in their applicability.

I'm delighted that you're working on a treatise pertaining to language. I hope you enjoy this project, and that it sucessfully opens up new avenues to consider on that rather broad topic.

message 31: by Tim (new)

Tim Colgan | 16 comments Just finishing reading Being and Time. And have enjoyed reading all the comments here.

A question I’ve had - perhaps someone has some input. I find it an interesting coincidence that Heidegger would be developing his thoughts on “Being and Time” so soon after Einstein’s work on the space/time continuum. Is there any connection here?

If one regards “Being” as traditionally a concept involving space, then the factor of time inevitably arises. The term being-in-the-world further stresses the interconnectedness of the individual to the universe.

Has anyone come across any references to this connection or had any thoughts to the space/time parallel?

message 32: by Phillip (new)

Phillip Casteel | 14 comments Rob the Obscure wrote: "As a lifelong reader of philosophy, here's a question that frequently erupts into my mind, and is erupting now in this thread:

Does anyone have a fucking clue about what the significance of this d..."

Though its been many years since I read this text, I must say it was one of the more influential books I've read about our "short-term, fleeting lives."
What I took from the book was that in order to ask the big questions about Being we must come to understand Being through other beings. The beings that we must connect to must be beings that value Being. In a real way we must connect with one another. We are thrown into this world, into being, and we come to understand and become authentic through our connection to and caring for beings.
Time comes into play because we are thrown into a world that is historical. Our progression to authenticity is within a temporary world, a historical world.
You can hear an echo of this writing in the ideas about the other in Levinas, Derrida, and Marcuse (to name a few).
There are bigger questions about time that Heidegger poses, but doesn't answer. For me they are a bit too metaphysical. The practical here-ness of his work and responsibility each one of us to connect and care is what I remember most about the work.
I haven't touched on many areas of the book. Perhaps someone else can hit other topics.

message 33: by Phillip (new)

Phillip Casteel | 14 comments Tim wrote: "Just finishing reading Being and Time. And have enjoyed reading all the comments here.

A question I’ve had - perhaps someone has some input. I find it an interesting coincidence that Heidegger w..."

Interesting connection. I have always looked at Heidegger in the light of Heraclitus, Nietzsche, Schopenhauer, Kierkegaard, and Husserl. I find his work to be about anchoring being (why is there being instead of nothing at all?) in the world. In Hölderlin's Hymn "The Ister" he states that space and time is so obvious, as seen in the labor and activity (history) of man that it doesn't require further thought.
Having said that I'm sure there are papers that have explored the connection that you suggest. Google scholar or EBSCO (need annual subscription or be enrolled in college to access) might have something on that.

message 34: by Tyler (last edited Sep 15, 2011 09:46AM) (new)

Tyler  (tyler-d) | 444 comments Hi Tim --

I find it an interesting coincidence that Heidegger would be developing his thoughts on “Being and Time” so soon after Einstein’s work on the space/time continuum. Is there any connection here?

Spatiotemporal phenomena were taken up by Kant, and I suspect that Kant was thinking about Newton when he gave them such a prominent treatment.

Einstein, of course, would have underscored the importance of these dimensions. But because Heidegger was a philosopher first, I think he had Kant in mind. If P.D.'s interpretation is on target the question of reidentification -- how a person comes to be over time -- was a concern of both philosophers.

message 35: by Tim (new)

Tim Colgan | 16 comments Thanks for your responses Tyler & P.D. You make good points that the concept of time was not first addressed by Heidegger, but has a long philosophical history. One I need to investigate a bit more.

Excuse me my dwelling on the connections to physics, but my technical background compels me. Another connection (perhaps merely my reading into it) is the concept of being-in-the-world. The 20th century equation of matter and energy seems to stress the concept of matter (humans included) being kind of ripples in the underlying fabric of the universe. And Heidegger does seem to stress the idea of us being an integral part of our world. Am I reading too much into it?

message 36: by Phillip (new)

Phillip Casteel | 14 comments Sorry that is out of my area. Plus I did my grad work under a Heideggerian who built his work on the premise of being being anchored (think Volksgemeinschaft). That idea really influenced all my thinking. So I may be blind to the possibilities.

message 37: by Tim (new)

Tim Colgan | 16 comments P.D. - Thanks for the reference to Volksgemeinschaft. It is a concept the I’m vaguely familiar with, but didn’t know the term. The wikipedia entry on the topic is quite interesting. I knew about Heidegger’s appreciation for the country folk (volk), their connection to the land and so on. And had read commentary saying that although he didn’t support the anti-semitism of the Nazis, he did appreciate their belief in national pride as a unifying belief. This aspect, of connectedness, can indeed be interpreted on many different levels.

message 38: by Saul (new)

Saul (sgarnell) | 8 comments Being and Time is not an easy book to read. I've only read parts in relation to the Berkley on-line University course given by Hubert Dreyfus, and I recommend the course for anyone trying to plough through the material. Personally, the book as a normal text is not self explanatory. But that's my opinion.

I've got two issues with Heidegger. One is that he takes many everyday terms, and uses them to mean very specific concepts. By the end of the book, you can string these terms into a long sentence which contain incredible ontological insight. But to those just on the sideline, it seems like total gibberish. Perhaps it's not so bad but I think one's mind tends to fight this, and it's easy to get confused.

The other problem I see is: Heidegger doesn't seem to deal with explaining animals consciousness all that well. It may seem like it's perfectly okay to dissect the inner workings of Man's consciousness alone. However, since we come from the animal kingdom, I don't think it makes good sense. To ignore the animal world to such a degree seems flawed with our greater understanding of evolution.

That said, I still think Being and Time offers a fantastic nomenclature to carefully explain how consciousness comes into being. More importantly, I think what Heidegger is really just explaining man's ability to create technology. But then again, that's my opinion I guess.

Anyone wan't to delve into the tech angle with me? Could be fun :)

message 39: by Tim (last edited May 09, 2012 02:29PM) (new)

Tim Colgan | 16 comments Saul wrote: "Being and Time is not an easy book to read. I've only read parts in relation to the Berkley on-line University course given by Hubert Dreyfus, and I recommend the course for anyone trying to plough..."

Saul: I’ve come across other commentary which raised the issue of Heidegger’s lack of references to the possibility of animals having human-like consciousness. But I agree with Nathan that he does not discount that proposition. Moreover, having been immersed with a phenomenological background he would be inclined to attempt to describe the world from a first person viewpoint.

In addition, Heidegger places great importance on the concept of “care”. See

In particular, he might say that what defines us as conscious beings is a care or concern for the future. I.e., we not only have sensory perception, but act on those inputs with thought towards the future. That is, thinking how to propel ourselves toward some objective. Obviously, this is a characteristic we would share with animals.

message 40: by Saul (last edited May 10, 2012 09:58AM) (new)

Saul (sgarnell) | 8 comments Nathan and Tim, thanks for pointing out The Fundamental Concepts Of Metaphysics. I don't have a copy yet, and as I recall, Dreyfus didn't talk about other texts, though he may have said something about TFCOM. However, my comments were within the scope of Being and Time. Perhaps it's wrong of me to be critical of a book which is qualified by other books that came later, but I still wish to take my criticism further if you're open to that.

First, I do agree wish to clarify something. My "problem" as I stated did not mean I felt Heidegger discounted the possibility that animals could be (share characteristics with) Dasein. My problem was that he, as you said, left it undecided. I agree. He also seems to use few examples about animal behavior.

The funny thing is, and this is my opinion once again, that one inevitably ends up talking about animals when discussing Heidegger's concepts in Being and Time. At least, that my was my experience. Was this not the case when the book was being written? I suspect not. I therefore feel Heidegger left this discourse out on purpose, which is in my estimation a shame because when you listen to the Dreyfus lectures, analogies to animals pop up from time to time. They seem to be hard questions for which there is no real answer in the lectures, but that is another matter.

I looked at your reference about "care", Tim. This is interesting because of the sense of care we seem to share with animals. Regarding care of the future, I would agree because Dasein seems to consider the future in a serious manner. However, my interest is in something a bit more fundamental within Heidegger nomenclature. And that is, Dasein's concept of understanding and significance.

I found this sentence of interest:
Dasein, in its familiarity with significance, is the ontical condition for the possibility of discovering entities which are encountered in a world with involvement (readiness-to-hand) as their kind of Being, and which can thus make themselves known as they are in themselves [in seinem An-sieh]

It's this kind of statement where I understand there to be a distinct split with the animal world. With animals, there seems no ability to discover the significance of things as such in the world. Instead, they seem to cope with their world. Something different.

However, by looking at the behavior of Chimpanzees, one might question this premise, and therefore think that Dasein could take the form of specific animals. Did Heidegger know anything about Chimpanzees? I'm clueless. But did he never think about the possible Dasein of dogs? A more interesting question.

I suppose you guys are going to tear me apart. Clearly, since I haven't read the later works of Heidegger, I'm keeping my arguments to Being and Time. If that's a problem, let me know and I stop. However, if you all this to continue, I'll will try to get the other texts, but do give me some time to read and catch up.

message 41: by Dora (new)

Dora Eos (autumnsphere) | 15 comments R.a. wrote: "I don't know if this might help.

Opposite from most philosophical texts which engage in "system building." Heidegger's form and method is a reversal—a "'hermeneutic' funneling or sifting.

So, he..."

Sounds pretty zen! :) I guess he is very Eastern-oriented, since he's a Meister Eckhart fan, and Eckhart was all into meditation and finding the light within.

I haven't read the book, but from what I've studied about Heidegger I like the idea of conceiving TIME non-spatially. A little bit like Zeno takes it - real time is every single moment of the flying arrow. But this, too, is a an idea of Meister Eckhart.

message 42: by Tim (last edited May 11, 2012 09:20AM) (new)

Tim Colgan | 16 comments Dora wrote: "Sounds pretty zen!"

There have been speculations that he read and was influenced by “The Book of Tea”

a very Zen work.

An on-line copy is here:

message 43: by Tim (last edited May 11, 2012 09:17AM) (new)

Tim Colgan | 16 comments Nathan "N.R." wrote: "I'd like to set to one side for the moment the question about care and concern, other than to say that for Heidegger care is the kind of the Being which Dasein is...."

Nathan: Yes, I understand (as Saul has emphasized) that Heidegger makes a point of the uniqueness of humans. A stand that always struck me as surprisingly anthropocentric.

But the concept of care/concern (Sorge) is one where I’m curious about Heidegger’s meaning. Perhaps you can enlighten me. My interpretation was always that this was the driving force which distinguishes sentient life from inanimate or non-sentient life. That it was Heidegger’s replacement to Schopenhauer’s “Will to Live” or Nietzsche’s “Will to Power”.

Again, Heidegger’s emphasis on the human focus on death seemed another manifestation of anthropocentrism - an attempt to distinguish humans from other animals. But I’m wondering whether he would also consider Sorge a primary element of all sentient beings.

message 44: by Saul (last edited May 11, 2012 04:31PM) (new)

Saul (sgarnell) | 8 comments Hi Nathan,

First let me thank you for your thoughtful post. You have given me a lot to think about and it is most probable that I can not address all the points you have raised. Let me also apologize for the poor manner in which I make my statements/questions/comments. Based on what you wrote, I can see that I am not stating things correctly (precisely?), but you seem nice enough to correct me as I go through the learning curve. You might need to keep doing that :) I hope it doesn't frustrate you too much.

Even though I would love to push our discourse deeper, it might be best if I ask some questions and clarify my own thinking, simply to ensure that I know how to ask the questions, and understand exactly what you mean. In this light, let me highlight a few bits of text, with my comments:

That's why I resist the temptation to talk about 'consciousness' when speaking about Heidegger because I believe he really does mean 'Dasein' and not 'consciousness' when he speaks of Dasein. Remember, for Heidegger 'language is the house of being.'

I think I understand. But is it then correct to say that Heidegger abstracts the question about consciousness into a question about Dasein? In other words, can we consider consciousness as one particular way of being that is like (offers insight to) Dasein's way of being? I think you see here my attempt to get my wording correct.

Here I want to be very precise. In his phenomenological method he is not trying to 'explain' (chain of causes, etc.) anything at all, but only describing how it is that Dasein goes about being in the world. And again, it's not so much 'consciousness' that Heidegger is dealing with but the way in which Dasein relates to its own being and thus with the main question, the question of the meaning of the question of being. For this reason he has really no need to ask about animals directly.

This is one of the hardest bits for me to understand, as you probably have guessed. I can sort of get that Heidegger, "has really no need to ask about animals". Yet many of his examples are with regard to the Black Forrest peasant, farmer, carpenter, etc. I guess I don't want to use the the word anthropocentrism. However, I can understand how some people (myself included) feel that Heidegger is going in that direction: when in fact, he's not. Let me put it in another way. Is it correct to assume that the use of humans activity as a model is simply a reference from which Heidegger theorizes the meaning of Dasein? If so, is it then wrong to then apply the question of being Dasein against other non-human models (forms of life)? In a way, I think I'm using the theory of Dasein and like an exploratory tool to investigate different models of being. And when I ask if it's wrong or incorrect, I mean that from within the scope of just Being and Time only.

You wrote:
So at every point along the explication of Dasein's worlding, encountering beings within that world, and revealing the being of entities in the world, we can ask 'Is the being of the animal made clear?'

It think this means the answer to my question above is yes. But...I must be honest and say I'm not sure :)

Regarding the following:
Life, in its own right, is a kind of Being; but essentially it is accessible only in Dasein. The ontology of life is accomplished by way of a privative Interpretation; it determines what must be the case if there can be anything like mere-aliveness.

I really didn't understand the above at all. What exactly is meant by "it is accessible only in Dasein". The meaning of the word accessible is hard for me interpret.

I don't know what to say about evolution except that it would be fully outside of the project of a fundamental ontology and the analysis of Dasein.

I suppose I should not have brought this up. What you say is true because we shouldn't try to use Ontology to explain evolution or visa-versa. I guess they have nothing to do with each other.

However, I raised this to unveil my human presumptions. I feel that man is an evolved animal of sorts, therefore I simply assume that what's going on with my own way of being, should in some way, overlap with animals. For example, let's take a squirrel (they live in the Black Forest too :). Presuming an evolutionary relationship (which I suppose is already bad) between me and the squirrel, I have a feeling that I can compare the question of being Dasein to either me or the squirrel, and expect that similar things take place. Not to say that squirrel's are Dasein. However, Dasein copes with his environment, and the squirrel with his (or her, I don't want to diss the females out there). For example, we both travel through the forest and do our best avoiding trees. Does a squirrel's coping share similarities with mine? When we do, are we taking on the same form of being? In some respects, I think man and animal share this characteristics (way of being). Is it incorrect to think in this way? Already, I have a bad feeling that I may be getting it wrong :(

However, now let's look at the Beaver. It copes with it's environment too. However, it makes dams, and very nifty wood houses for itself. Many people like to compare man and beast in this case. However, I really don't want to do that. Why? Because even though both man and beaver seem to be going about what looks like world building, both are doing something very different by my estimation. That is because Dasein can do more than cope. Dasein, as you say, projects into the future, has understanding, and applies (as I see it) significance to objects by perceiving them "as such" (is that the right term?). The beaver on the other hand, is still just coping with it's environment...somehow. I suppose that's in FCofM. The similarities of the activities though appear misleading because what seems like simple world building in animals (now I could be really wrong here, so pardon me as I dive into an empty pool of thought) is in fact, just coping. I suppose at this point we're talking about the poverty of animals, but looking at the beaver's house, it's quite amazing. In fact, when we look at other activities of animals; birds building nests, bees making a hive, otters breaking open clams with a rock: one must admit that coping with the environment can get pretty interesting.

I can take this further, but I want to stop and see how far off the railroad tracks I've gotten. Maybe I'm on the tracks and the I'm about to become roadkill! Once again, I want to get this right. However, it's very hard for me with the limited background I've got in this topic.

Regarding my reference, I'm reading the on-line version from Questia. However, when I ask it for a footnote reference I get the following:

Martin Heidegger, Being and Time, trans. John Macquarrie and Edward Robinson (San Francisco: Harper, 1962) 120, Questia, Web, 11 May 2012.

Let me know if this matches the paper version. I've always wondered about this sort of problem.

message 45: by Saul (new)

Saul (sgarnell) | 8 comments Hi Nathan,

I'm back. And now, as Roy Batty would say: Questions!

It is an accident of the posing of the question that it is a human being asking the question, but not in the mode of its being human, but rather in its mode of being Dasein. It will always be Dasein which asks about the being of other entities, whether those enities are Dasein, or vorhanden-ness or zuhanden-ness or what have you.

How can we be certain that we as humans can pose the right question in the mode of being Dasein? Is this simply not our best guess? It almost seems that we theorize two things within this statement. 1) That there is a Dasein which contemplates about the question of being, and 2) We as humans can pose this question in the mode of Dasein (as you put it).

Is this not a mere assumption by the human, that it is capable of composing questions like Dasein, in hopes that it will shed light upon the possibility that Humans are a mode of Dasein? This logic seems twisted upon itself, and constructed to remove the assumption that we are indeed Dasein.

It will always be Dasein which asks about the being of other entities, whether those enities are Dasein, or vorhanden-ness or zuhanden-ness or what have you.

Interesting, but perhaps I don't undertand what this is really saying. If this is always true, and since humans (such as myself) have asked about the being of other entities (tools, squirrels, beavers, etc.), then it follows that I must be Dasein. Otherwise, how can I pose such a question?

So, yes, from Dasein we can investigate the modes of being of squirrels, etc, -- but don't we all want to know whether squirrels can ask about Dasein's being as Dasein? (Does that question make sense at all?)

It is indeed interesting to consider what other life forms consider about the question of being. And even though I can't know what a squirrel thinks, its more frustrating to admit I don't know really what another human thinks, other than what they say. Such information is imperfect. So, if we want to be this precise about all this (build things up from a firm base), this can get very tricky. Unless I can read minds, there is no perfect answer.

Right, Dasein is the 'clearing' for the coming forth of the being of entities, even if this is not done in a 'clear and distinct' manner, even if our understanding is murky -- murky is possible on the grounds of a prior clearing. It is merely the possibility of their being becoming clear to that in which they can be made clear.

I don't recall at all the word 'clearing' and 'murky' used in this manner in the Dreyfus lectures. Can you explain this in other terms? I get the feeling that clearing is similar to unfolding/discovery. That the question of being unfolds itself to Dasein in a similar manner that the world is discovered and analyzed. But never fully I suppose, and thus murky.

For Heidegger 'life' is a just a bare minimal difference from things that have no life -- it's the medical definition of life as 'not dead yet' but not a full-blooded, phenomenologically rich life like we have in our Daseins-analysis.

This is fine with me. I agree here and feel that life is just a prerequisite of ontological analysis. Thus I can understand what you mean when you say, Dasein does ontology. I wish there was a single verb for this act.

No, much more immediately I am related to that Schwarzwald Eichhornchen in the immediacy of my encounter with it here under this particular tree on this morning walk along this path, etc. It comes forward in my world as what it is, not in its vorhandenheit as it does under the gaze of evolution/Biology. It is not our Biology we have in common but this very wording.

I think what your describing is how we as humans cope with other beings like the squirrel. I encounter the squirrel very much in the way that I encounter a tree, rock, grass, ants, etc. And yes, without all the years of prior study, no one sees a squirrel as an evolutionary relative. That is at best we humans understanding (right term?) the squirrel 'as' such.

I found the following statement:

Martin Heidegger, Being and Time, trans. John Macquarrie and Edward Robinson (San Francisco: Harper, 1962) 189, Questia, Web, 19 May 2012.

The 'as' makes up the structure of the explicitness of something that is understood. It constitutes the interpretation. In dealing with what is environmentally ready-to-hand by interpreting it circumspectively, we 'see' it as a table, a door, a carriage, or a bridge; but what we have thus interpreted [Ausgelegte] need not necessarily be also taken apart [auseinander zu legen] by making an assertion which definitely characterizes it. Any mere pre-predicative seeing of the ready-to-hand is, in itself, something which already understands and interprets. But does not the absence of such an 'as' make up the mereness of any pure perception of something? Whenever we see with this kind of sight, we already do so understandingly and interpretatively. In the mere encountering of something, it is understood in terms of a totality of involvements; and such seeing hides in itself the explicitness of the assignment-relations (of the "in-order-to") which belong to that totality.

I would like to take the above to say that seeing a squirrel as a biological/evolutionary relative is done so understandingly and interpretatively within a referential totality. Is that the right way to look at this?

Beavers -- do beavers dwell as Dasein dwells? Is the beavers' dam also a house for it? Or is it 'a house for the beaver' only for Dasein?

We're now getting into what a beaver thinks. Sadly, because I can only communicate with humans, the beaver's thoughts are unknown to me. But on a private basis I don't believe beaver's dwell on anything. I think they cope with their environment. And yes, seeing the house as a house is only for Dasein who can perceive the house, as-such. Once again, this goes back to the above. Dasein sees a beaver's shelter as a house understandingly and interpretively. it then correct for me to apply this kind of thinking to my view of the Squirrel? Can I see the squirrel 'as' an evolutionary relative, in the same manner of understanding that I see a shelter 'as' a house?

Is it not true that only Dasein takes the beavers dam as a house, a dwelling where one can be-at-home?

All I can say is that unless a beaver asks about the being of other entities, understands and intreprets-- then yes. Only Dasein takes the dam/shelter as a house. But then again, I don't really know what the beaver thinks. How do we deal with that problem?

Okay, well that's my questions for the day. Hopefully you don't find that we're going in circles, and I look forward to seeing your response.

message 46: by Saul (new)

Saul (sgarnell) | 8 comments Nathan "N.R." wrote: "Welcome back Saul, back to ye ol' grindstone.

I would love to reply, like, on the spot. But yes, this is truly a grindstone --a happy one to be sure-- but I need to find enough time to read, digest, think, and then write down a sound but hopefully witty answer:)

Now back to our Roy Batty routine: Questions!

Perhaps I should clear up everything here -- Dasein = The Human Being. ... Dasein is the 'there' of Being, and you and I are both Dasein as is demonstrated by this conversation, but we also describe ourselves as humans and the problem is not to somehow find a way to bring 'human' and 'Dasein' together, because they are always already found together (unless for that sci-fi example of perhaps some non-human existing which is not Dasein which is an epistemological (ontic) question, not an ontological question, and thus of no concern for a fundamental ontology.)

Well...I feel I understand you. However, is it also okay to pose this in a question like form:
I.E., Is there not a great deal to be revealed by equating human to Dasein? We need not say one = other, because one then get tangled in breaking things down into minutia, where some aspect of one = or <> to the other. Even trying to determine what aspects to compare might not be productive, because Dasein is (to me at least) still an abstract concept. It's a phenomenon, not the instantiation of that phenomenon. In geek terms: it's design time, not run time :)

Dasein is no thing. The impulse behind calling this entity 'Dasein' rather than 'human' is to set aside all of these worries which arise from assumptions which always go along with the use of 'human' or 'consciousness,' but instead to have a blank term which stands only for that place in which the question of being takes place. "Twisted", indeed, and nonsensical because we are always Dasein all along and don't need to question our way from 'human' to Dasein. We find ourselves there all along.

Yes. I feel this sounds somewhat like what I wrote just above.

This worry about 'firm foundations' is Descartes' worry and is precisely what Heidegger is working to not do. And from an Heideggarian perspective, to 'read an other's mind' would be the entire and complete collapse of Dasein and its world. [My paragraph here is not meant to be a complete exposition, but a mere pointer towards how to stay on that Heidegger-track].

I can't fully understand how we can be certain Dasein would collapse if mind reading were possible. I do agree that if we seek to describe only what is in the world around, that mind reading appears (seems to be) unlikely. I can't describe this in the natural world around me. an SF writer I enjoy describing possible other types of reality. Worse, science describes to me ways where mind/machine links are being made today and I don't imagine this going away in the future. I don't wish to say humans "will" read each other's minds. But, I would not think that even if such were the case, Dasein collapses. I would have though that any such possibility simply unfolds another possible way of being. True, it's unlike what we describe in the natural world. It's indeed unnatural now. But what if aliens show up with such a natural ability. More troubling, what if Dasein inflicts technology upon itself? Is that forbidden. In Star Trek terms, it's the Federation vs. The Borg :)

Our first approach to the squirrel, staying with the present piece of text, would be to see it in its involvement with my world, as potential dinner. It could serve the end of satisfying my hunger. But, I could also just step back and not take it 'as' dinner, or I could think I could just 'let it be' and not take it 'as' anything in particular. But Heidegger suggests here that even in our stepping back and just taking it 'as' a squirrel, letting it drop out of any useful place in our world/Dasein, taking it merely present-at-handly, as an object of scientific insight, also always involves some kind of 'in-order-to' orientation towards some purpose such as the expansion of our knowledge of things.

I think children show some ways of being that are different than adults. If a newborn encounters the squirrel, the interpretation, understanding and reaction are not like a full blown adult. What you describe above is clear, but in fact, the orientation you describe is...what do we say? Learned? Does not description of humans not imply that Dasein too transforms and comes into an adult (what other term can I use?) state. It's a state where what you describe above seems to reflect what we see in the world.

Regarding 'as' structures, I would think one big thing in adult humans is our habit of comparing 'as' structures. For example, if I encounter an animal that I have never seen before, I may think it's a kind of squirrel, and use my understanding of squirrels, to equate the 'as' structure of the new animal.

ie. I don't know that is, but it sure looks like lunch to me :)

This I think, might be handy when trying to hunt for food, assuming Dasein is the kind of being that needs to hunt and eat. Not even sure if that matters.

So, 'understandingly' would be 'in an articulated manner' showing how all the 'pieces' are jointed, put together. 'Interpretively' would be the structure of 'something as something'; the 'as' articulates a mode/manner of being. The referential totality would be something like the world or environment of Dasein which is always articulated in some kind of 'in order to', some kind of orientation which gives beings direction/directionality. "Understandingly and interpretively within a referential totality" is a very dense phrase.

I think this makes sense. Only, how do we describe the change in state from infant to adult. I suppose that is simply, world building?

Okay, well that's all I've got time for right now. Hope to hear back on all this and take it to the next level :)

message 47: by Saul (new)

Saul (sgarnell) | 8 comments Nathan "N.R." wrote: "I think if there is a level we need to move to it would be back to the text.."

You've made a good suggestion to focus upon the text. To that end, I want to look more carefully at World Building because I personally find that it is related to technology's manifestation. Searching through the text for a good place to get a better grip, I came across another key term: "Nature". I don't like to use that term lightly because it's a term that I have always found hard to nail down. It is my belief that the transformation from that which is Natural to the Unnatural can shed light upon the technological phenomenon.

Thus, the following paragraph under the section entitled "The Worldhood of the Word" caught my eye:

Now the entities within the world are Things—Things of Nature, and Things 'invested with value' ["wertbehaftete" Dinge]. Their Thinghood becomes a problem; and to the extent that the Thinghood of Things 'invested with value' is based upon the Thinghood of Nature, our primary theme is the Being of Things of Nature—Nature as such. That characteristic of Being which belongs to Things of Nature (substances), 1

1 Martin Heidegger, Being and Time, trans. John Macquarrie and Edward Robinson (San Francisco: Harper, 1962) 91, Questia, Web, 30 May 2012.

Things of Nature is not exactly clear to me. However, towards the end of the quote we see "Things of Nature" further defined as (substances). Using that term, a Thing of Nature could be any physical object I suppose, as most physical things are composed of one substance or another. But so is a hammer. Though, I don't think that is what he means. Instead, I think he uses the term substance to mean some natural form of matter (in a human sense of the word, untouched by man) .

And the term used to contrast it, "Things invested with value" is also hard for me to understand. The value he speaks of seems to be the significance that is unfolded to Dasein. Do I have that right?

Thanks for your continued interest.

message 48: by Saul (new)

Saul (sgarnell) | 8 comments Nathan "N.R." wrote: "Heidegger wrote: "Now the entities within the world are Things—Things of Nature, and Things 'invested with value' ["wertbehaftete" Dinge]. Their Thinghood becomes a problem; and to the extent that ..."

It's quite sad to see that I misunderstood what H was getting at. And, I see you've given me specific bits of reading I need to do before going forward. However, just a note about technology before I run off to study:

I can see clearly that nature and un-natural are not H-ian concepts, but I have strong feelings that H isn't precluding questions about technology. H would say human concepts of nature are better represented by present-to-hand (P2H) and ready-to-handness (R2H) in the world, and even though you've said I should not put tech. between the natural and unnatural, I would like to think that questions about how Dasein perceives P2H and R2H shed (at the same time) a great deal of insight upon the question of "what is technology".

Is it fair to make this statement?

Note that I can agree technology is not H-ian, and technology is not an entity per se. But like other things that Humans think they are familiar with, technology eludes an easy definition and is "murky". As such, I would hope we can explore this. Once again, not to say technology is this or that, just that we can ask questions and make things clearer.

I hope this frames my point of view in a more thoughtful Heidegger way.

message 49: by Saul (new)

Saul (sgarnell) | 8 comments Thanks Nathan. This all sounds good. Let me do the reading you asked for and then respond. I'm happy to see there is a way forward :)

message 50: by Onur (new)

Onur Öztürk Any suggested extra reading which help with understanding Being&Time?

Currently I’m reading Stephen Mulhall’s “Heidegger and Being&Time”, it’s really good!

I’d like to hear if anyone has other suggestions?

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