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Thursday, May 18th
Beings as fundamental possibilities:
1: The book, its subject matter, title and method
- Heidegger had a religious upbringing, when he comes back from the war he
is disillusioned with religion- has personal crisis as to the meaning of life.
Being and Time was meant to be part of a larger project – to investigate the
meaning of the question of being in general. A book thinks it can exhaustibly
answer a question, an essay acknowledges that it is experimental.
- Presenting an account of the human being as existential possibilities rather
than consciousness, actuality, ego etc.. Something present, permanent,
unchangeable (according to Descartes) Heidegger thinks humans are
- Contrast between Aristotelian (traditional) approach: “What is this?”
Inquires into the ‘this-ness’ or ‘what-ness’ (science of being) Heidegger asks –
“who ask this ^?”
Heidegger thinks the Aristotelian approach needs to be deepened – the
science of the being of beings (fundamental ontology – claims to investigate
the most primordial possibilities of the sciences).
Influences: Kierkegaard, Kant, Husserl.
- Time: Aristotle – natural process, Kant- intuitive, Frued - memory,
historical Heidegger- transcendence (all of the above notions are grounded in
transcendence- you always project yourself unintentionally- you are always
ahead of yourself- you are not the same person that you were.) Time is
- Being is understood IN time. The two are separate topics but being cannot
‘be’ without time.
- Being as the human being and being as ‘being’. Being is not enough, not a
particular being, it cannot be pluralized because it is not a noun, or
something that can be counted. You cannot pluralize your existence, it is
constantly happening, it is always ahead of yourself, as soon as you focus on it
it’s gone. Being does not refer to a being. You cannot live unless you
experience dying constantly (the possibility of dying).
- Being is not a predicate (not a describer)
- We use ‘to be’ indiscriminately, how can we look at all these things through
the same kind of (veil?)?
- Das ist (doesn’t use this to talk bout being) = there is. Es gibt = there is (it
Heidegger is saying that being is a gift. If you give a gift you don’t know how
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it is going to be received, a gift is irreducible to the properties that it has – it
doesn’t have the same meaning as a commodity/ instrument as when it is a
- being is always the same kind of excess over actuality (the object in the store
vs the object as a gift)
- the ontical (concrete existence) is never identical with the ontological -
constantly exceeds the ontical.
Method: phenomenology – ontological phenomenology. Human mind is
situated in the world (not a collection of objects but constantly changing- not
reducible to objects)
Phenomenon: that which shows itself in itself. (Light is the only thing that
shows itself in itself. Other things need light to show itself.) Knowledge is
spoken of in the metaphor of light.
- There is nothing that completely reveals itself (revealing presupposes
2: Dedication and epigraph: To Edmund Husserl
- Heidegger’s politics: he was a member of the Nazi party. He withdrew in
1934. He never acknowledged or apologized for his complacency or role.
Epigraph: Plato’s sophist. He wants to reawaken the question of being. The
question of being seems to constantly come and go, show itself and be
concealed. The question of being appears and is disrupted by others. If
something is constantly happening we have to understand it as it happens,
we cannot freeze it- the understanding has to constantly renew itself.
- This book is about everyday life, average everydayness. Only you can
generate it (fundamental ontology) for yourself
3: Heidegger’s language
- Coined new words
There is always a tension between natural language and the language of
philosophy. Natural language is loaded with tons of assumptions, philosophy
wants to avoid this but cannot invent its own language entirely, so they use
natural language in a unique way. The tension is heightened with Heidegger:
thinks language can cloud our understanding. We speak of the being of a
person and an object as the same thing- tries to separate them with new
words, or using words differently.
- Is my hand what it is or what it does? Objects have to refer to other objects
for their meaning. Things do not exist in isolation but in context. There is no
nail without a hand.
4: Ontological difference
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