Being and Time

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  • Edition: Revised
  • Format: Hardcover
  • Copyright: 1/1/1975
  • Publisher: Harpercollins
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One of the most important philosophical works of our time -- a work that has had tremendous influence on philosophy, literature, and psychology, and has literally changed the intellectual map of the modern world.


Being and Time

Chapter One

Exposition of the Task of a Preparatory Analysis of Dasein

The Theme of the Analytic of Dasein

We are ourselves the entities to be analysed. The Being of any such entity is in each case mine. These entities, in their Being, comport themselves towards their Being. As entities with such Being, they are delivered over to their own Being. Being is that which is an issue for every such entity. This way of characterizing Dasein has a double consequence:

I. The 'essence' ["Wesen"] of this entity lies in its "to be" [Zu-sein]. Its Being-what-it-is [Was-sein] (essentia) must, so far as we can speak of it at all, be conceived in terms of its Being (existentia). But here our ontological task is to show that when we choose to designate the Being of this entity as "existence" [Existenz], this term does not and cannot have the ontological signification of the traditional term "existentia"; ontologically, existentia is tantamount to Being-present-at-hand, a kind of Being which is essentially inappropriate to entities of Dasein's character. To avoid getting bewildered, we shall always use the Interpretative expression "presence-at-hand" for the term "existentia", while the term "existence", as a designation of Being, will be allotted solely to Dasein.

The 'essence' of Dasein lies in its existence. Accordingly those characteristics which can be exhibited in this entity are not 'properties' present-at-hand of some entity which 'looks' so and so and is itself present-at-hand; they are in each case possible ways for it to be, and no more than that. All the Being-as-it-is [So-sein] which this entity possesses is primarily Being. So when we designate this entity with the term 'Dasein', we are expressing not its "what" (as if it were a table, house or tree) but its Being.

2. That Being which is an issue for this entity in its very Being, is in each case mine. Thus Dasein is never to be taken ontologically as an instance or special case of some genus of entities as things that are present-at-hand. To entities such as these, their Being is 'a matter of indifference'; or more precisely, they 'are' such that their Being can be neither a matter of indifference to them, nor the opposite. Because Dasein has in each case mineness [Femeinigkeit], one must always use a personal pronoun when one addresses it: 'I am', 'you are'.

Furthermore, in each case Dasein is mine to be in one way or another. Dasein has always made some sort of decision as to the way in which it is in each case mine [je meines]. That entity which in its Being has this very Being as an issue, comports itself towards its Being as its ownmost possibility. In each case Dasein is its possibility, and it 'has' this possibility, but not just as a property [eigenschaftlich], as something present-at-hand would. And because Dasein is in each case essentially its own possibility, it can, in its very Being, 'choose' itself and win itself; it can also lose itself and never win itself; or only 'seem' to do so. But only in so far as it is essentially something which can be authentic -- that is, something of its own -- can it have lost itself and not yet won itself. As modes of Being, authenticity and inauthenticity (these expressions have been chosen terminologically in a strict sense) are both grounded in the fact that any Dasein whatsoever is characterized by mineness. But the inauthenticity of Dasein does not signify any 'less' Being or any 'lower' degree of Being. Rather it is the case that even in its fullest concretion Dasein can be characterized by inauthenticity -- when busy, when excited, when interested, when ready for enjoyment.

The two characteristics of Dasein which we have sketched -- the priority of 'existentia' over essentia, and the fact that Dasein is in each case mine [die Jemeinigkeit] -- have already indicated that in the analytic of this entity we are facing a peculiar phenomenal domain. Dasein does not have the kind of Being which belongs to something merely present-at-hand within the world, nor does it ever have it. So neither is it to be presented thematically as something we come across in the same way as we come across what is present-at-hand. The right way of presenting it is so far from self-evident that to determine what form it shall take is itself an essential part of the ontological analytic of this entity. Only by presenting this entity in the right way can we have any understanding of its Being. No matter how provisional our analysis may be, it always requires the assurance that we have started correctly.

In determining itself as an entity, Dasein always does so in the light of a possibility which it is itself and which, in its very Being, it somehow understands. This is the formal meaning of Dasein's existential constitution. But this tells us that if we are to Interpret this entity ontologically, the problematic of its Being must be developed from the existentiality of its existence. This cannot mean, however, that "Dasein" is to be construed in terms of some concrete possible idea of existence. At the outset of our analysis it is particularly important that Dasein should not be Interpreted with the differentiated character [Differenz] of some definite way of existing, but that it should be uncovered [aufgedeckt] in the undifferentiated character which it has proximally and for the most part. This undifferentiated character of Dasein's everydayness is not nothing, but a positive phenomenal characteristic of this entity. Out of this kind of Being -- and back into it again -- is all existing, such as it is. We call this everyday undifferentiated character of Dasein "averageness" [Durchschnittlichkeit].

And because this average everydayness makes up what is ontically proximal for this entity, it has again and again been passed over in...

Being and Time. Copyright © by Martin Heidegger. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.

Excerpted from Being and Time by Martin Heidegger
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