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Being and Time

Discussion in 'The Philosopher' started by Nile577, Dec 2, 2007.

  1. JoeVice

    JoeVice Member

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    "though we can, of course, attempt to delve into this understanding – as Heidegger does above –, we cannot bring it to absolute theoretical clarity"

    so, questioning being can't get us any closer to being, because the questioning itself is what arises out of being, and of course itself is a being, so is the questioning, and so is this.:erk: but, this is where the questioning is called transparent or lucid. but, once again, i'm not closer to it. i'm simply more aware of it.

    and, when applied, we can even have some say in how to interperet the initial pre-ontological understanding. instead of jumping to hasty conclusions, we can learn to assume a position of control or co-creation with being. but, it can be rather frightening to examine what is arising in me this way. the being of how i feel about a hair can be whittled down to absolute chaos.

    i can picture a child being born with this "power".

    mom says, "are you lying?"

    child says, "you're lying."....and he's right!!!

    "Heidegger feels the error of Western thinking has been to posit the theoretical outlook (the subject/object divide) as the unquestionable foundation of thought."

    i guess this is an indicator of a key difference between analytical and continental philosphy. analytical seems to pick its beings and put them into a tournament bracket, whereas continental philosophy, or maybe just heidegger in particular, consciously sets a single yet infinite battle against being itself, and questions it along the way as the questioner is strewn from concept to concept along-side time. this of course happens no matter what "method" one is "using."
     
  2. Nile577

    Nile577 Member

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    Paragraph 8

    When we try to approach the question of being through the being of beings, it is crucial to note that we find that the being of beings is already given. That is, in order to interrogate a specific being, that being must already be the thing that it is in advance of our examination. An apple must be an apple, for example, before we can enquire after it as an apple. "The question of being demands that the right access to beings be gained and secured in advance with regards to what it interrogates." We are not trying to describe the material qualities of a specific thing; we are asking how beings are disclosed as the things they are.

    "Everything we talk about, mean, and are related to is in being." That is everyTHING whatsoever is. Our preontological understanding of being allows us to understand things as the things they are*. Being determines them as those things.

    If being is that which determines things as they are (remember: not in a causal sense), and everything is in being, which being shall have priority for our enquiry into the meaning of being? That is, from where is our enquiry to begin? From which being shall we try to disclose the meaning of being in general? Will it be the being of the question as a mode of the questioner?

    * = This understanding does not suggest some kind of factual omniscience. A foreign object we do not understand has a kind of being (probably: present-to-hand). If we learn (get a sense) that this object is a kind of tool, we understand its being as ready-to-hand. Hammers, saws, screwdrivers etc have the same kind of being regardless of their different material properties. The notions of "present-to-hand" and "ready-to-hand" will be encountered in much greater depth later.

    Paragraph 9

    To formulate the question of being, then, requires us to enquire how we gain access to what is to be interrogated (being), and also requires us to discover the being from which our enquiry is to unfold. "Regarding, understanding and grasping, choosing, and gaining access to, are constitutive attitudes of inquiry and are thus themselves modes of a particular being." That is, the task of questioning, and the methods of enquiry used to formulate a question, are themselves modes of a certain being: human being, or Da-sein. "Thus to work out the question of being means to make a being - one who questions - transparent in its being."

    Paragraph 10

    Is this not just circular reasoning? The question of being is asked as a mode of a being (Da-sein); we must already understand beings as the things they are to have a foundation for the asking of the question. "In working out the question do we not presuppose something that only the answer can provide?"

    This is quite a rare concession by Heidegger to the protocols of analytic debate and formal logic, and even here is he is deprecatory: "Formal objections such as the argument of circular reasoning... are always sterile. They do not offer anything to the understanding of the issue and they hinder penetration into the field of investigation."

    Paragraph 11

    In any case, there is no circular reasoning. We can already understand beings as the things they are without an explicit concept of the meaning of being. That is, we understand beings preontologically (before a worked-out system of ontology). In all prior ontology (as a discipline of philosophy), and indeed in all prior western thinking, being is "presupposed," or taken for granted. Philosophical and ideological theories apply to beings as they are already given and already understood preontologically by Da-sein. Theoretical thinking seeks to describe, order and categorise beings that already given. We are after an understanding of being in general as that which allows entities to be the things that they are in advance of any theories.

    "A 'circle of reasoning' cannot possibly lie in the formulation of the question of the meaning of being, because in answering this question it is not a matter of grounding by deduction but rather of laying bare and exhibiting the ground." That is, we are not enquiring into an entity and trying to deduce its nature - entities (beings) are already understood in their being (which determines the entities they are) by Da-sein's preontological understanding -, we are laying bare the ground of all beings whatsoever, and in so doing disclosing the meaning of beings itself.

    We must be careful here. When Heidegger writes of "laying bare the ground" of the meaning of being he does not mean to suggest that being is a materially present "ground" upon which beings show up. Likewise, being is not something that lurks behind beings. By "laying bare the ground" of the question of being we are not seeking to ground it by deduction; we are trying to understand how it shows up as the question that it is. The "ground" is that by which things are determined to be the things they are. In that sense, the ground of beings is being. We are not after the meaning of beings; we are after the meaning of that which determines beings to be the beings they are - namely, being.

    The question itself does not exist outside of being. We cannot be satisfied merely by "answering" it as we would any other question - by looking at the already given qualities of a specific being - we are seeking to understand the meaning of being itself, which, if you will forgive the repetition, is a non-entity that determines beings as the beings they are.

    Paragraph 12

    Confused? We probably should be. Heidegger writes that "the way what is questioned essentially engages our questioning belongs to the innermost meaning of the question of being." The question, as a mode of a questioner, arises in being and seeks to enquire after the meaning of being. Heidegger notices that something like a "relatedness backward or forward" emerges. This is the first mention of the hermeneutic approach that will be adopted in Being and Time. In this context, "hermeneutic" means careful interpretation. In pursuing our enquiry we must allow for the fact that the enquiry itself arises from within the (non)object of its interrogation. That is, the question of the meaning of being arises within being and is understood preontologically in its being. We must perpetually relate the question to its own arising.

    As the question arises as a mode of Da-sein, "something like a priority of Da-sein has announced itself." That is, Da-sein will be the being from which our enquiry will unfold.
     
  3. Nile577

    Nile577 Member

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    A note: despite Justin's important post on why we should not use the word "entity" in place of "a being" I have sometimes used "thing" interchangeably with "a being" simply because the continuous repetition of "a being" would - to me - appear to confuse more than preserve, and certainly appears a little inelegant in English. Whether my concern for "elegance" justifies the risk of obscuring Heidegger's thinking can be debated. I have tried to use "a being" where possible, and it is hoped that when reading these notes the viewer will keep the relationship between being and beings foremost in mind.
     
  4. Nile577

    Nile577 Member

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    I hope that the above notes give an outline of Heidegger's hermeneutic method, whereby one incorporates the exclusive difficulty of the question of being into a methodological approach.

    If I have understood you correctly here, I think you have an excellent understanding of what Heidegger is getting at. Our preontological understanding of being is conditioned and flavoured by the "world" into which we are acculturated. The "flavour" of our culture conditions the clearing in which beings show up. What it is to be "female," for example - as distinct from the material fact of being a homosapien with a vagina and breasts - is given as a way of being for Da-sein by the flavour of our cultural world. As Dreyfus notes, where Heidegger differs from someone like de Beauvoir is that he thinks we can't just instantly re-interpret what it is to be female (by understading our sexual roles and then ignoring them to discover a new "person"). If we wish to change what it is to be a female, we must raise awareness of what it is to be a woman (in 21st century America).

    The being of how you feel about a hair would be a mode of Da-sein. It would be an existentiell mode of Da-sein. That is: a way in which Da-sein understands itself to be (Da-sein would understand itself as "feeling about a hair"). In Being and Time Heidegger will try to illuminate the existential structure of Da-sein. That is: the fundamental structure of Da-sein that allows it to understand itself as "feeling about a hair." We will say much more about "existentiell" and "existential" understanding later.

    I don't think I understand what you are implying here. I realise that you might not be suggesting this, but we should not confuse "power" over our understanding of being with some kind of solipsism whereby just because Da-sein wants X to be Y it suddenly is. Beings show up in a cultural world of human existence. This world gives them their flavour. We are acculturated, from birth, into this world.

    Very interesting point. I am warmly appreciative of your engagement with this thread and for bringing clarity to my own understanding.
     
  5. Nile577

    Nile577 Member

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    Being is not a being because being determines beings to be the things they are. We cannot isolate "being" as a property of a thing. One cannot have a kilogram of pure being. Being cannot be an abstract concept because concepts have (are) their own kind of being, which presupposes being. (Obtaining a concept in thought does not obtain the thing itself, but when asking a question we must be guided by a concept.)

    As we see in What is Metaphysics? (which I know you have read), being arises from the negation of nothingness. When we ask "Why is there something and not nothing?" the "not" is the negation of the "nothing". This negation of the nothing allows beings in their entirety to be. In this realisation we are brought face-to-face with the nothing and the negation. Hence it would not be quite accurate to say "being IS NOT." It is that the nothing and the negation are the abyssal-ground of beings. Like being itself they are not entities, but they are both bound up in the meaning of being and, in that sense, are subordinate to being in general; that is, they both are (in a very subtle and complex sense of the word).

    Magda King is helpful in writing about "the nothing" as it was to be written of in Being and Time:

    "In the absence of Divison Three (remember: Being and Time is unfinished), this final aim of Part I of being and time (that is: the working of the meaning of being in general) would have remained impenetrably obscure had Heidegger not given some illuminating hints in his work entitled Vom Wesen des Grundes (The Essence of Reasons), published in 1929. Here Heidegger clearly indicates that the idea of being as such is to be articulated into what- and how-being, something, nothing, and not-ness"
     
  6. kmik

    kmik Member

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    I'll be a little more careful. We've established that being is not a being. I'd have thought that's because beings show up within being, so being cannot be a being in itself, but the reasoning here is different: being is not a being since all beings are. My mistake was to assume that the dichotomy of is/"is not" applies to being but I suppose it doesn't (it only does to things, to beings), and to understand the sentence in negation (that is, "beings are, rather than not", and not simply "beings are")
     
  7. Nile577

    Nile577 Member

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    No, I think you are correct. I think the "all beings are..." explanation tries to say the same thing, though not as eloquently as you have phrased it here.
     
  8. Nile577

    Nile577 Member

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    3 - The Ontological Priority of the Question of Being

    Paragraph 1

    We have gained some insight into the unique character of the question of being. However, the true nature of this uniqueness will only become evident when we understand the function, intention and motives of the question.

    Paragraph 2

    As yet the question of being (what is the meaning of being?) lacks an answer. What purpose, though, does our enquiry serve? Is the question mere "free-floating speculation about the most general generalities" or is it "the most basic and at the same time most concrete question?"

    Paragraph 3

    Heidegger begins this paragraph by declaring, "being is always the being of a being." As this being of a being, being determines the being as the being it is. Put differently: being, as the being of a thing, determines that thing as the thing it is.

    All beings taken together demarcate the realm of certain kinds of knowledge. The concepts of life, space, history and nature, for example, demarcate realms of knowledge about beings in total. “Space” is the positional relationship between beings, “history” purports to be the record of beings in time, “nature” is the natural order and law of beings.

    Now, science can investigate these areas and try to establish theories about them but, to a certain extent, they are already understood beforehand. That is, we must already have some understanding of the being of “life” before we can devise a theoretical/scientific investigation into what it is to be a “living thing” as opposed to an “inorganic thing.” "Life" is a category, or type, of being. Categories of being are called ontologies. The specific results of scientific investigations are not particularly important; what is important is any subsequent ontological modification of its founding concept (in the instance under discussion: what it means to be “alive.”)

    Paragraphs 4 & 5

    The most developed sciences are capable of sustaining radical alteration of their foundational concepts. Quantum physics, for example, alters the concept of what it is for a being to be present in “space,” postulating that a subatomic particle can occupy numerous areas of “space” at once.

    Paragraph 6

    Ontological concepts leap ahead and disclose a type of being (i.e. “life) that can then be thematised into a scientific enquiry. The area called “life” is disclosed by an ontological understanding of being that comes before scientific investigation. “Since each of these areas arises from the domain of beings themselves, [they are revealed by] nothing else than interpreting these beings in terms of the basic constitution of their being.” Interpreting beings in terms of their being, argues Heidegger, is something that human beings can do from pre-scientifically. It is this that gives rise to ontologies.

    Science and scientific concepts, then, are not primary. The foundational areas of knowledge pertaining to the totality of beings are first disclosed as ontological regions of being. This understanding leaps ahead of scientific investigation and should not be confused with logic. Ontology founds and demarcates a region for scientific enquiry; logic comes later, investigating the methodology of the scientific enquiry.

    “Thus, for example, what is philosophically primary is not a theory of concept-formation in historiology (the study of history, “History”), not the theory of historical knowledge, not even the theory of history as the object of historiology; what is primary is rather the (ontological) interpretation of genuinely historical beings with regard to their historicality."
    That is, what is primary is the ontological demarcation of "historical beings" (as a type of being) to be interpreted in their historicality.

    Ontology precedes scientific theory. Heidegger has demonstrated the ontological priority of the question of being. BUT:

    Paragraph 7

    The question of being is not a traditional question.

    Even if we established an ontological genealogy of every category of being possible and every way of being whatsoever, we would not have enquired as to the meaning of being in general. It is Da-sein’s understanding of being that allows us to understand beings as the beings they are. We understand the fundamental areas of knowledge (ontological regions) in the field of beings in their totality only in light of our understanding of being in general. Pre-scientific ontology, that is, is itself grounded in our preontological understanding of being. The ontological category "quantity," for example, can only arise as a region of knowledge if we first of all understand being in general.

    As this preontological understanding of being is not something given in lived experience (as ontological understanding is), but is the grounding possibility of all experience whatsoever, it is prior not only to scientific theory but all formal ontology. Formal ontology interprets beings in regard to their kind of being; our preontological understanding of being allows beings to show up for that interpretation as the beings they are.

    Paragraph 8

    “The question of being thus aims at an a priori condition of the possibility not only of the sciences which investigate beings of such and such a type – and are thereby already involved in an understanding of being; but it aims also at the condition of the possibility of the ontologies which precede the ontic sciences and found them.”

    To elaborate: the ontic (concerned with the factual propertes of beings) sciences are founded by ontologies (disclosures of types of being). Biology is possible only once the ontological concept of life (the kind of being that living beings are) has been disclosed. Once the ontological region of “life” has been demarcated we can investigate living beings with regard to their specific attributes (and then possibly modify our initial demarcation). The initial demarcation arises from pre-scientific experience. [Note: the ontic sciences are not just the “hard” sciences. They are any theoretical mode of study.] Ontological regions of beings can only show up, however, only if we already understand being in general. To understand “living beings” we must first understand being.

    Being and Time seeks to investigate the question of the meaning of being. Understanding the meaning of being is the a priori condition not just for science but for all ontologies whatsoever.

    “All ontology, no matter how rich and tightly knit a system of categories it has as its disposal, remains fundamentally blind… if it has not previously clarified the meaning of being.”

    Paragraph 9

    As an investigation into the ground of ontologies (which themselves ground scientific enquiry), the question of being achieves its ontological priority. This is the priority of fundamental ontology.
     
  9. Nile577

    Nile577 Member

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    Primordial chart of being

    Most primordial: Our preontological (implicit) understanding of being. This understanding allows ontologies (disclosures of kinds of being, or ways of being) to arise.

    Less primordial: Ontological disclosures of being. These demarcate types, or categories, of being within the field of beings as a whole. For example: life, history, space, quantity, quality.

    Least primordial : The ontic sciences. These are concerned with the factual properties of specific beings.
     
  10. Nile577

    Nile577 Member

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    4 - The Ontic Priority of the Question of Being

    Paragraph 1

    The sciences are practiced by humans and therefore have Da-sein as a way of being. Da-sein can be scientific when it adopts a stance towards another being which designates the being as an object for enquiry by a subject (Da-sein itself). "Scientific research," however, "is neither the sole nor most immediate kind of being" that is possible for Da-sein. When typing this paragraph, for example, though I am using a keyboard, it is not, for me, an object for investigation. It is only when a key breaks, perhaps, that suddenly the keyboard leaps out as an object for diagnostic research. In such an instance, I would intently consider the keyboard as an object and develop a theory of how to proceed (a number of options would be open to me). The predominant way in which Da-sein is amidst other beings is not as a subject among objects.

    Da-sein is "distinctly different" from other beings in its structure, nature and kind. Although we have as yet only a preliminary understanding of Da-sein, Heidegger will now attempt to adumbrate the ways in which Da-Sein is unique.

    Paragraph 2 & 3

    Heidegger notes that Da-sein is not the same kind of being as other beings. Rather, "it is ontically distinguished by the fact that in its being this being is concerned about its being." What does it mean to be "ontically distinguished?"

    An ontic understanding of being is concerned with the factual properties of specific beings. The property of Da-sein that distinguishes it from other beings is that, in its being, it interprets and is "concerned about its [very own] being." I can interpret (take a stand on) my being as being a "librarian," or "son," for example. This constitutive, innate ability to understanding being is a factual quality that belongs to da-sein's onticality. As Heidegger puts it "The ontic distinction of Da-sein is that it is ontological." To be ontological means to understand and interpret being.

    Heidegger calls the kind of being that can understand its own being in this way "existence." As Dreyfus notes, in this special usage of the term, rocks, trees and animals do not exist.

    Paragraph 4

    When we write of Da-sein being ontological, we do not mean that Da-sein engages with a formal theory of ontology to understand being. The kind of understanding of being that Da-sein has (and is) is preontological (implicit; before any worked out theory of being).

    It is this preontological understanding of being that allows Da-sein to understand its own being and, indeed, to understand being in general.

    NOTE: Da-sein is absolutely NOT synonymous with "consciousness." We should not at all think of Da-sein as a conscious subject. Rather, it is only because of the existential structure of Da-sein (that is: the kind of being it is) that it is able to understand its being as embodying "consciousness" at all. That is - to return to our previous example - only occasionally (e.g. when the keyboard breaks) does Da-sein interpret itself as being a conscious subject, and this interpretation is made possible only by Da-sein's underlying structure. That is to say: only rarely is Da-sein a conscious subject and this is is made possible by the fundamental being of Da-sein. Likewise, to be "self" aware presupposes a preontological understanding of "self."

    Da-sein does not have a fixed nature but instead interprets itself as a "sexual," "religious," "genetic" (etc.) being. Because it is alarming for Da-sein to realise it does not have a fixed nature, it often 'flees' into a particular modality of its interpretive possibilities to the extent that its interpretive nature is obscured.These possibilities are not something a Da-sein can wholly create
    itself. To interpret myself as a "priest" (to use Dreyfus' example) requires that a "priestly" way of being be culturally given. One could not be a priest in Attic times as that mode of being was not possible for Da-sein (Da-sein would simply be a rather meek ascetic).

    Heidegger calls the modes of Da-sein's possible ways of being its existentiell modes. The underlying ontological structure of Da-sein (i.e. a being that in its being comports itself towards its own being) he terms the existential structure. That Da-sein can understand itself as a father, priest, lover, criminal etc. is an existentiell understanding of its ways of being. That Da-Sein is of an ontic-ontological structure (that is, ontically it is ontological) is an existential understanding of Da-sein. The existentiell modes of Da-sein are predicated upon its existential structure.

    All theories or worldviews that assign to Da-sein a fixed nature (i.e. psychology, biological determinism, geneticism, politics etc) have superficially glossed over Da-sein’s existential structure, and will therefore remain groundless until such a structure is explicated. Without this grounding, the above “worldviews” do great violence to the possibility for thoughtfulness pertaining to the question of what it is to be human.

    (Paragraphs 5 - 12 to follow)
     
  11. kmik

    kmik Member

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    I just want to say that I still try to follow this "column", although I barely get to see my sweet home now. So keep up the good job! :)
     
  12. hibernal_dream

    hibernal_dream A Mind Forever Voyaging

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    I must say, excellent work so far in helping us understand the text.

    I'm not sure if i know what this means. Without using jargon, are you saying that in fact (scientifically), Dasein understands in a vague sort of way the shape of being in general, and it's also able to interpret the mode which it is in at a particular time? And that the statement I just made is an existential description of Dasein?
     
  13. kmik

    kmik Member

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    hey I have not posted here in a while... what's up with this forum???
     

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