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Re: [existlist] A long post for Joe

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  • eupraxis@aol.com
    Outstanding summation! Wil ... From: jimstuart51 To: existlist@yahoogroups.com Sent: Tue, 26 Feb 2008 12:15 pm Subject: [existlist] A
    Message 1 of 2 , Feb 26, 2008
      Outstanding summation!


      -----Original Message-----
      From: jimstuart51 <jjimstuart1@...>
      To: existlist@yahoogroups.com
      Sent: Tue, 26 Feb 2008 12:15 pm
      Subject: [existlist] A long post for Joe


      You write in your post 43777:

      << would you post a brief extract of those passages in BaT where

      Heidegger addresses these questions concerning the structure of the

      human individual and concludes that I am not an immaterial soul or a

      group of neurons or a quantum phenomenon and so on? >>>

      I don't think sections 12 and 13 of Being and Time lend themselves to

      be summarized in two or three short quotes which fully reveal

      Heidegger's twin arguments against Cartesianism on the one hand (I am

      an immaterial soul) and reductive physicalism on the other hand (I am

      my brain).

      Let me give my own summary of sections 12 and 13 and follow that with

      some longish quotes where Heidegger presents his arguments against

      Cartesianism and reductive physicalism. (Forum members who are not

      interested in dead philosophers, or who don't like long posts, need

      read no further.)

      Sections 12 and 13 make up Chapter Two of B&T, which has the title

      "Being-in-the-world in general as the basic state of Dasein". This

      title summarises what H is arguing here.

      Our most basic state is one of acting in the world, of going about our

      business by interacting with those things around us.

      "Being-in-the-world" just is this involvement with the people and

      things around us, such as "having to do with something, producing

      something, attending to something and looking after it, making use of

      something, giving something up and letting it go, undertaking,

      accomplishing, evincing, interrogating, considering, discussing,

      determining …" (B&T, Macquarrie and Robinson, 1962, p. 83)

      Dasein's most basic state involves acting in a world which is not

      conceived as `outside' itself, but rather `alongside' itself. Dasein

      knows the objects around it just as thoroughly as it knows itself, and

      comes to understand itself as distinct from those objects:

      "Dasein itself – and this means its Being-in-the-world – gets its

      ontological understanding of itself in the first instance from those

      entities which it itself is not but which it encounters `within' its

      world, and from the Being which they possess." (p. 85)

      H argues that modern philosophy has gone astray by not recognising

      that man's `basic state' is one of active involvement in the world.

      Passive contemplation of oneself and the world is secondary – it can

      only arise for a being which is already actively interacting with the

      world. Thus, for H, the correct order for human beings is: first

      acting then knowing. For his opponents, philosophy can start with

      This is where both Descartes and the reductive physicalists go wrong:

      they assume that passive contemplation of the world is our basic

      state. By failing to recognize the true nature of our basic situation,

      they build their philosophies on sand, rather than on solid foundations.

      Now to satisfy your desire for quotation, I shall quote some longish

      passages which contain arguments against Cartesianism and against

      reductive physicalism.

      This first passage reflects much of what I have said above. Note

      `present-at-hand' things are those things which we contemplate in a

      passive manner. This is the opposite of ready-to-hand objects which

      are those we use and interact with in our various tasks and projects.

      "In the first instance it is enough to see the ontological difference

      between Being-in as an existentiale and the category of the

      `insideness' which things present-at-hand can have with regard to one

      another. By thus delimiting Being-in, we are not denying every kind of

      `spatiality' to Dasein. On the contrary, Dasein itself has a

      `Being-in-space' of its own; but this is possible only on the basis of

      Being-in-the-world in general. Hence Being-in is not to be explained

      ontologically by some ontical characterization, as if one were to say,

      for instance, that Being-in in a world is a spiritual property, and

      that man's `spatiality' is a result of his bodily nature (which, at

      the same time, always gets `founded' upon corporeality). Here again we

      are faced with the Being-present-at-hand-together of some spiritual

      Thing along with a corporeal Thing, while the Being of the entity thus

      compounded remains more obscure than ever. Not until we understand

      Being-in-the-world as an essential structure of Dasein can we have any

      insight into Dasein's existential spatiality. Such an insight will

      keep us from failing to see this structure or from previously

      cancelling it out – a procedure motivated not ontologically but

      rather `metaphysically' by the naïve supposition that man is, in the

      first instance, a spiritual Thing which subsequently gets misplaced

      `into' space." (p. 82-3)

      Here is another paragraph in the same vein:

      "From what we have been saying, it follows that Being-in is not a

      `property' which Dasein sometimes has and sometimes does not have, and

      without which it could be just as well as it could with it. It is not

      the case that man `is' and then has, by way of an extra, a

      relationship-of-Being towards the `world' – a world with which he

      provides himself occasionally. Dasein is never `proximally' an entity

      which is, so to speak, free from Being-in, but which sometimes has the

      inclination to take up a `relationship' towards the world. Taking up

      relationships towards the world is possible only because Dasein, as

      Being-in-the-world, is as it is. This state of Being does not arise

      just because some other entity is present-at-hand outside of Dasein

      and meets up with it. Such an entity can `meet up with' Dasein only in

      so far as it can, of its own accord, show itself within a world." (p.

      In the next passage, H argues against reductive physicalism:

      "Nowadays there is much talk about `man's having an environment

      [Umwelt]'; but this says nothing ontologically as long as this

      `having' is left indefinite. In its very possibility this `having' is

      founded upon the existential state of Being-in. Because Dasein is

      essentially an entity with Being-in, it can explicitly discover those

      entities which it encounters environmentally, it can know them, it can

      avail itself of them, it can have the `world'. To talk about `having

      an environment' is ontically trivial, but ontologically it presents a

      problem. To solve it requires nothing less than defining the Being of

      Dasein, and doing so in a way that is ontologically adequate. Although

      this state of Being is one of which use has been made in biology,

      especially since K. von Baer, one must not conclude that that its

      philosophical use implies `biologism'. For the environment is a

      structure which even biology as a positive science can never find and

      can never define, but must presuppose and constantly employ. Yet, even

      as an a priori condition for the objects which biology takes for its

      theme, this structure itself can be explained philosophically only if

      it has been conceived beforehand as a structure of Dasein. Only in

      terms of an orientation towards the ontological structure thus

      conceived can `life' as a state of Being be defined a priori, and this

      must be done in a privative manner. Ontically as well as

      ontologically, the priority belongs to Being-in-the-world as concern.

      In the analytic of Dasein this structure undergoes a basic

      Interpretation." (p. 84-5)

      Here H attacks a superficial way of understanding the relation between

      Dasein and the world:

      "But no sooner was the `phenomenon of knowing the world' grasped than

      it got interpreted in a `superficial', formal manner. The evidence for

      this is the procedure (still customary today) of setting up knowing as

      a `relation between subject and Object' – a procedure in which there

      lurks as much `truth' as vacuity. But subject and Object do not

      coincide with Dasein and the world." (pp. 86-7)

      In the following long quote, H puts forward his positive alternative:

      "If we now ask what shows itself in the phenomenal findings about

      knowing, we must keep in mind that knowing is grounded beforehand in a

      Being-already-alongside-the-world, which is essentially constitutive

      for Dasein's Being. Proximally, this Being-already-alongside is not

      just a fixed staring at something that is purely present-at-hand.

      Being-in-the-world, as concern, is fascinated by the world with which

      it is concerned. If knowing is to be possible as a way of determining

      the nature of the present-at-hand by observing it, then there must

      first be a deficiency in our having-to-do with the world concernfully.

      When concern holds back [Sichenthalten] from any kind of producing,

      manipulating, and the like, it puts itself into what is now the sole

      remaining mode of Being-in, the mode of just tarrying alongside … [das

      Nur-noch-verweilen bei …] This kind of Being towards the world is one

      which lets us encounter entities within-the-world purely in the way

      they look, just that; on the basis of this kind of Being, and as a

      mode of it, looking explicitly at what we encounter is possible.

      Looking at something in this way is sometimes a definite way of taking

      up a direction towards something – of setting our sights towards what

      is present-at-hand. It takes over a `view-point' in advance from the

      entity which it encounters. Such looking-at enters the mode of

      dwelling autonomously alongside entities within-the-world. In this

      kind of `dwelling' as a holding-oneself-back from any manipulation or

      utilization, the perception of the present-at-hand is consummated.

      Perception is consummated when one addresses oneself to something as

      something and discusses it as such. This amounts to interpretation in

      the broadest sense; and on the basis of such interpretation,

      perception becomes an act of making determinate. What is thus

      perceived and made determinate can be expressed in propositions, and

      can be retained and preserved as what has been thus asserted. This

      perceptive retention of an assertion about something is itself a way

      of Being-in-the-world; it is not to be interpreted as a `procedure' by

      which a subject provides himself with representations [Vorstellungen]

      of something which remain stored up `inside' as having been thus

      appropriated, and with regard to which the question of how they

      `agree' with actuality can occasionally arise." (pp. 88-9)

      Finally, another argument against Descartes' inside-outside view:

      "When Dasein directs itself towards something and grasps it, it does

      not somehow first get out of an inner sphere in which it has been

      proximally encapsulated, but its primary kind of Being is such that it

      is always `outside' alongside entities which it encounters and which

      belong to a world already discovered. Nor is any inner sphere

      abandoned when Dasein dwells alongside the entity to be known, and

      determines its character; but even in this `Being-outside' alongside

      the object, Dasein is still `inside', if we understand this in the

      correct sense; that is to say, it is itself `inside' as a

      Being-in-the-world which knows. And furthermore, the perceiving of

      what is known is not a process of returning with one's booty to the

      `cabinet' of consciousness after one has gone out and grasped it; even

      in perceiving, retaining, and preserving, the Dasein which knows

      remains outside, and it does so as Dasein. If I `merely' know [Wissen]

      about some way in which the Being of entities is interconnected, if I

      `only' represent them, if I `do no more' than `think' about them, I am

      no less alongside the entities outside in the world than when I

      originally grasp them." (pp. 89-90)

      As you can see Heidegger is seeking to paint an alternative picture of

      the relationship of the human being to his/her world to the Cartesian

      picture. Thus the attack on Cartesianism is, for the most part,

      indirect. What Heidegger writes strikes me as similar in some ways to

      what Kant writes: both say that a certain amount of `stage setting' is

      necessary before we can consider directly our experience of ourselves

      and the world around us. In order to see ourselves and our world in a

      new way, we need to be weaned off the old (Cartesian) way of viewing

      matters. This `weaning-off' process continues through the whole of

      "Being and Time".


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