Being and Time, 3

The Between of the World

With Chapter 5 of Being and Time, “Being-in as Such,” Heidegger finally touches upon the being of the understanding being (Dasein) that is furthest from itself, which is to say, least familiar to it, and yet, most true, thus requiring a phenomenological analysis of the everydayness of Dasein (i.e., that which is closest to it) so as to discover the truth of that being that is hidden. More simply, with the question of “being-in” the question of the meaning of being takes a substantial step forward. Having “achieved” through “concrete analysis” an understanding of the “world” and the “who” of being-in-the-world, Heidegger now turns to the “phenomenon of being-in” which, through the ensuing sections, will allow him to approach the “totality of the structural whole” that is Dasein (127, 175). Before he can assert the “equiprimordiality of constitutive factors” of Dasein, he must examine these factors in their distinctive everyday realizations, an examination which will prove to be a new introduction to the remainder of the text (128). The final several hundred pages of Being and Time hinge upon Chapter 5 and the concept of “being-in.”

The “being-in” of “being-in-the-world” is directly connected to the “existential spatiality” of Dasein, a concept that arises in Chapter Two, Heidegger’s “[p]reliminary [s]ketch” of being-in-the-world (56, 53). Dasein is not merely there in . . . ; its being-in “cannot be clarified ontologically by an ontic characteristic” (i.e., metrical or Cartesian space) (56). Being-in is existential. It is not an “attribute” but the “being of this being [Dasein] itself” (126). It is loosely the “between” of subject and object, but as Heidegger has already shown, the subject-object divide is a false one. Rather, as the between of the phenomenon of world, Dasein “is itself always its ‘there,’” that is, that being which “has disclosed spatiality” (129). Insofar as the spatiality of Dasein is characterized by “de-distancing” and “directionality” (102), its heedful being-toward a meaningful world, and insofar as such a posture is the disclosure of that meaningful world, the “there” of Dasein is “essential disclosedness,” the disclosure of disclosure, which is to say, the disclosure of meaning, signification, relevance (the structure of the world as such) (129). Dasein is not “closed off” in its being, but is ““there” for itself together with the there-being [Da-sein] of the world”; it has always already “brought its there along with it”; it “is its disclosedness” (129).

Through Dasein’s constitution as “being-in” as the “there,” we see the world emerge in an existential, rather than everyday, way. Dasein is “illuminated,” which means “that it is cleared in itself as being-in-the-world . . . that it is itself the clearing” (129). As he remarks in a footnote, the clearing is truth: “Αλήθεια [Gk.: truth]—openness—clearing, light, shining” (129). The very concept of truth in Western civilization stems from dis-closure (i.e., openness, clearing), and Dasein is that which is this disclosure. Another footnote from the same page follows: “Dasein exists, and it alone. Thus existence is standing out, into and enduring, the openness of the there: Ek-sistence [standing-out]” (129). Truth is the out-standing of Dasein as the there. But this stilted formula does not explain much. Heidegger’s ensuing investigations will help to clarify.

In §§29 and 30, Heidegger discusses the first of two “equiprimordially constitutive ways to be there”—“attunement” (130). Ontically, attunement can be understood as the “everyday kind of thing” that is “mood” (130). Moods, especially a “bad mood,” disclose the “being of the there ... as a burden,” the “primordial disclosure ... in which Dasein is brought before its being as there” (131). As phrased above, this “primordial disclosure” is the disclosure of disclosure, a recursive function much in the way that the sign recursively references signification (a structure which will be further elucidated in §34) (81). The being of Dasein is always the being “that is and has to be,” the “pure ‘that it is’ [that] shows itself,” that discloses itself, is cleared in itself (131). It is mood that “deliver[s]” Dasein to this being (131). This being “delivered over” of Dasein, its “that it is,” is its “thrownness,” a term which Heidegger uses to deepen his concept of “facticity”—“that an ‘innerworldly’ being has being-in-the-world in such a way that it can understand itself as bound up in its ‘destiny’ with the being of those beings which it encounters within its own world” (56). In being thrown, Dasein is not factuallysomething objectively present” but something factically there, something caught up in “taking care of” something within the world, a relatedness that recursively discloses the very “for-the-sake-of-which” to which relevance is referred: the being that is there, Dasein (132, 57, 84).

Through the phenomenon of mood, then, Heidegger argues that “attunement” is the very “openness to world of Dasein,” the existential characteristic of a being that first discloses world to it in its being (134). Heidegger briefly examines the phenomenon of fear to demonstrate that this is in fact that case. Fear is an everyday “mode of attunement” that “reveals” Dasein as a “being which is concerned in its being about that being,” because only such a being “can be afraid” (137). From this analysis, Heidegger proceeds to discuss the second of the two “equiprimordially constitutive ways to be there”—“understanding” (138). We have seen that Dasein is that being which, in its attunement or openness to the world, is concerned about its being, and which, in its everydayness, goes about taking care of the world which is disclosed to it in its concern. It is in this concern that Dasein understands, and again, recursively, understands understanding, makes intelligible intelligibility, signifies significance. Thus, the “existential” of understanding discloses “being [Sein] as existing,” and the “mode of being of Dasein as a potentiality of being,” as “being-possible” (139). This possibility is the “most primordial and the ultimate positive ontological determination of Dasein,” the very “problem” of what it means to be and the understanding of it (139). The analysis of attunement, mood, and fear, brings us to that concern which discloses the being-possible of Dasein, the understanding of Dasein’s existence. Fear is an ontic concretion of Dasein’s understanding of possibility.

Heidegger is sure to clarify that Dasein’s being-possible is “thrown possibility,” a possibility that is always already caught up in the world (139). Though Dasein always understands that it has “to be in this or that way,” always “‘knows’ what is going on, that is, what its potentiality of being is,” this understanding is hidden from it (140). Existential understanding is no “immanent self-perception,” no Cartesian self-certainty. It is always thrown, and so, has always “failed to recognize itself” (140). This is the significance of fear. In fear, we see, phenomenologically, Dasein’s understanding of its own condition. And in fear, Dasein is “thus delivered over to the possibility of first finding itself again in its possibilities” (140). In “fleeing,” in “turning away,” in “submission,” in self-evasion, Dasein discloses its existential constitution as understanding (132, 134, 135). Fear is not the truth of Dasein’s being, however—this much we must make clear—but a particular concretion of the “project character of understanding” (140).

For Heidegger, project “constitutes being-in-the-world with regard to the disclosedness of its there as the there of a potentiality of being” (140-41). Dasein is “thrown into the mode of being of projecting,” which means that it “has understood itself and will understand itself in terms of possibilities,” that it “throws possibility before itself as possibility, and as such lets it be” (141). This means that Dasein has always already understood its being-possible, even if this understanding has been distorted by its everyday cares. Existentially, however, Dasein is projecting as such, the understanding by which Dasein is delivered over to itself as the there, and so “is its possibilities as possibilities” (141). For this reason, it follows that “Dasein is constantly ‘more’ than it actually is ... It is existentially that which it is not yet ... it is what it becomes or does not become” (141). It is not, however, “more than it factically is because its potentiality of being belongs essentially to its facticity” (141). In short, “Dasein exists as itself” (141), but itself is neither “subject” nor “individual” nor “person” but thrown potentiality (141). Dasein is projected onto the there of its possibility, spanning the existential space of its thrownness.

In this span of thrown projection, in which Dasein always already existentielly (not existentially) understands that it is and has to be, a particular project of “understanding” (that is, of projection, Dasein’s ontic-ontological condition) emerges: “interpretation” (144). In characteristically elliptical fashion, Heidegger defines interpretation as the act by which “understanding appropriates what it has understood understandingly ... the development of possibilities projected in understanding” (144). Interpretation is the understanding of “something as something,” an approach that “lies before a thematic statement” (144, 145). It does not “throw a ‘significance’ over what is nakedly objectively present,” but instead “what is encountered in the world is always already in a relevance which is disclosed in the understanding of world, and relevance which is made explicit by interpretation” (145). The world around us is always already understood and interpreted as world, as relevant, as significant. The hammer is always already interpreted in terms of its in-order-to, or reference structure. It is only when the hammer fails, or is missing, or is difficult to use, that it becomes obtrusive conceptually as a hammer. But this is not primordial; rather, it is the hammer’s embeddedness and interpretedness within the totality of relevance, and our encounter with it, that is the primordial phenomenon. In this, then, we see that understanding is Dasein’s projection onto its possibilities, and that interpretation is the project of projection, what makes “comprehensible” the projects of Dasein (145).

Understanding is always be-fore in what Heidegger refers to as a “fore-having, fore-sight, and fore-conception”—this is the “fore-structure of understanding” (146). The “as-structure of interpretation” is similarly fore (146). When something or someone is discovered by this fore-structure and as-structure—that is, within a “totality of significance” (146)—then “we say that they have meaning [Sinn]” (146). Again, this is not something thrown over the something or someone, but the “wherein” of “intelligibility” (146):

Meaning, structured by fore-having, fore-sight, and fore-conception, is the upon which of the project in terms of which something becomes intelligible as something. Insofar as understanding and interpretation constitute the existential constitution of the being of the there, meaning must be conceived as the formal, existential framework of the disclosedness [clearing] belonging to understanding. Meaning is an existential of Dasein, not a property that is attached to beings, which lies “behind” them or floats somewhere as a “realm between.” Only Dasein “has” meaning in that the disclosedness [clearing] of being-in-the-world [as there-being] can be “fulfilled” through the beings discoverable in it. Thus only Dasein can be meaningful or meaningless. (147)

Thus, Heidegger contends that understanding is the “disclosedness of the there,” that is, the clearing, the opening, the light, the truth (147). Meaning is not something to be found, grasped, or acquired within the world, not some substance, or fundamental essence of substances, but the very constitution of Dasein in its primordial complexity.

Heidegger’s consideration of understanding and interpretation leads him beyond “theor[ies] of “judgment”” to a “hermeneutical” position that embraces the fore-structure and as-structure of Dasein in its thrown projection (150, 153). The “apophantical ‘as’ of the statement,” the idea that one can place their finger upon the truth, cannot be the basis of meaning (153). The statement is a “derivative mode of interpretation” only (152). Instead, meaning finds its habitation in “discourse,” a factor that is “existentially equiprimordial with attunement and understanding” (155). Discourse is “the articulation of the intelligibility of the there,” and as has already been seen, the “there” is the disclosedness of Dasein as meaning, the “upon which” of projection (147)—thus, discourse is the primordial articulation of meaning: “existential language” (156). The multiplicity of languages throughout the world are particular ontic concretions of this existential structure. We cannot “grasp the “essence” of language” because language emerges from the equiprimordial union of understanding, interpretation, and discourse, the articulation of Dasein as there (157). There is no essence of language, because language is not simple. We cannot use our language to make judgments or statements about things uncritically, as if we can merely define, because language is always already bound up with the thrownness of Dasein in understanding and interpretation. This is not to say that we cannot define anything at all, but rather that definition is a particular derivation of the structural whole that precedes it, and must always be considered as such.

Now, to remain true to his phenomenological method, Heidegger makes a return to the “everydayness” of Dasein, so as to “regain this phenomenal horizon that was our thematic point of departure” (161). If Dasein always finds itself firstly in the “mode of being of the they,” how does Dasein’s “thrown being-in-the-world,” its projection in understanding, interpretation, and discourse, initially and typically manifest itself (161)? Though there is not sufficient space to go into detail here, Heidegger demonstrates that Dasein’s everyday there-being, its habitation of meaning, is realized in three phenomena: idle talk, curiosity, and ambiguity (161, 164, 167). Together, these phenomena constitute what Heidegger refers to as “entanglement” or “falling prey” (169). In Dasein’s “absorption” in the world it is “guided” by the they, and so becomes “inauthentic” (169). This does not mean that Dasein no longer is, but that Dasein is not itself (169). Dasein-as-they is tempted away from, tranquilized to, and alienated from its authentic being (170-71). In its primordial de-distancing and directionality, Dasein’s everyday movement is a “plunge” that takes it “out of itself into itself, into the groundlessness and nothingness of inauthentic everydayness” (171-72). One loses one’s “ownmost Dasein” (171). This does not, however, disprove the being of Daein set out above, but is rather the “most elemental proof for the existentiality of Dasein” (172). Even in inauthenticity, the being-possible of Dasein, its thrown projection, is manifested. For Dasein to grasp its “authentic existence,” for it to take hold of the burden of the there that it is and must be, is “existentially only a modified grasp of everydayness” (172). In the following chapters, Heidegger will proceed to develop this existential grasp.

Though what follows, from §39 onward, tends to be more profound than what has preceded it, it is necessary that we thoroughly analyze the early argumentation of Being and Time so as not to fall into mystical posturing. Heidegger’s text is dense and challenging, and it is far too easy to lose sight of the “phenomenal horizon” that he establishes (161). In Chapter Six, the structure disclosed in Chapters Two through Five must be “clarified phenomenally as a whole,” because the “phenomenal manifoldness” of its “constitution” can “easily distort the unified phenomenological view of the whole as such” (175). Being-in-the-world, the world, being-a-self, being-with-others, being-in as such—these constitute the manifold or complex that is phenomenologically whole, and it is this wholeness that must be “determined existentially and ontologically” (175). No one of these “constitutive moments” is prior to another, but rather they form a “[p]rimordial [t]otality,” a totality which is now in question (175). This totality is care (177).

We have seen that in moods “Dasein is brought before its being as there,” that it is disclosed to itself in the burden of its existence (131). The there as burden is the disclosedness of the potentiality-of-being of Dasein—Dasein as clearing, opening. But this clearing is “completely indefinite,” and in being brought before it, delivered over to it, Dasein encounters a “there” that is “nowhere” (180). Such an experience captures the “distinctive attunement” that is “anxiety” (178). If attunement, generally, is the “openness to world of Dasein” (134), anxiety is that mode of attunement that is “about . . . the world as such,” or in other words, is attuned to attunement (181). The there disclosed in anxiety is “nowhere” and “not [Nichts] any thing at hand,” but rather the “primordial ‘something’ [‘Etwas’]” (181). One is not attuned to the there as one is attuned to an innerworldy being, because the there is the disclosure that discloses such beings, the “project character” of Dasein that has always already “understood itself and will understand itself in terms of possibilities” (140, 141). Anxiety, therefore, discloses to Dasein its “being free for the freedom of choosing and grasping itself” in its being-possible (182). It “fetches Dasein back out of its entangled absorption in the “world,” and into authentic “potentiality-for-being” (182, 185). Thus, anxiety is an “uncanny” feeling because Dasein’s potentiality-for-being is “nothing and nowhere,” not at home, but rather the very possibility of a home, of somethings and somewheres (182).

Because Dasein as there-being is its possibility, the being of Dasein is always “being-ahead-of-itself” (185). But because Dasein, in its possibility, is always already projected upon the world, the being of Dasein is “being-ahead-of-itself-in-already-being-in-a-world” (185). Formally, then, the primordial totality of Dasein as care can be written as “being-ahead-of-oneself-already-in (the world) as being-together-with (innerworldy beings encountered)” (186). Care is, therefore, “not simple” but “structurally articulated in itself” (189). It is a complex whole that cannot be reduced to any of its parts, but is equiprimordially co-constituted by them all.

There is, however, a “still more primordial phenomenon which ontologically supports the unity and totality of the structural manifold of care” (189). To condense Heidegger’s reasoning here, insofar as reality as an idea is always “referred back to the phenomenon of care” (203), it can be seen that care hinges upon the “being-true” of beings (210). Indeed, the very ideas of truth and reality are derived from the “being-true” of beings discovered in care. Truth, then, is not the mere “relation [Beziehung] of something to something” (i.e., a statement or judgment corresponding to an objectively present thing), but a “discovering” (210). Truth does not have “the structure of an agreement between knowing and the object in the sense of a correspondence of one being (subject) to another (object)” (210). On the contrary, the “being-true” of beings is “beings in the how of their discoveredness” (210), and that how is Dasein as cleared, as there-being, as “essential disclosedness” (129): the “being of the there” is the “most primordial phenomenon of truth” (212). As such, we can say that “Dasein is ‘in the truth’” (212), and that truth “belongs to the fundamental constitution of Dasein”—it is an “existential” (217). Any knowledge we presume to have is derived from the there-being of Dasein: Dasein as being-in-the-world, as being-a-self, as being-with-others, as care. Truth is not, therefore, something outside that must be brought in; we are already in it. Truth is not a mere statement, not a pointing to or affirmation of some thing: “‘There is’ [Es gibt] being—not beings—only insofar as truth is. And truth is only insofar as, and as long as, Dasein is. Being and truth ‘are’ equiprimordially” (220). In our thrown projection upon the world, in our understanding and interpretation and discourse, in our care and concern, we “presuppose truth because, ‘we,’ existing in the kind of being of Dasein, are ‘in the truth’” (218). The truth is there—it is the “disclosedness of Dasein” (219).

At last, we “have found the fundamental constitution of the being in question, being-in-the-world [Dasein], whose essential structures are centered in disclosedness. The totality of this structural whole revealed itself as care” (221). Dasein’s existence “is as an understanding potentiality-of-being which is concerned in its being about its being” (221). In this way, Dasein is always ahead of itself, and for this reason we see that the “primordial ontological ground of the existentiality of Dasein ... is temporality [Zeitlichkeit]” (224). To seek the “answer to the question of the meaning of being in general” (221), we must first undertake a “primordial interpretation” of that being through which the being of beings is disclosed (222). Because Dasein, in its existence, is always ahead of itself, it is “essentially oppose[d] ... to the possibility of being comprehended as a whole being” (224). Dasein is “constantly ‘more’ than it actually is ... It is existentially that which it is not yet” (141). Dasein, in its existential constitution, is not complete and yet, in its potentiality, it can be whole: “As long as Dasein is, something is always still outstanding: what it can and will be. But the ‘end’ itself belongs to what is outstanding. The ‘end’ of being-in-the-world is death” (224). Thus, Dasein in itself includes the potentiality of an end—indeed, its completion or wholeness contains this end, which it is not, but which is its own. As the being concerned in its being about it being, Dasein cannot ignore this potentiality, and this potentiality cannot be interpreted without reference to time. As such, “care must need “time” and thus reckon with “time,”” and the “projection [Entwurf] of a meaning of being in general” should, therefore, “be accomplished in the horizon of time” (225).

At this point, the selected reading far exceeds the scope of this paper, and given the importance of the preceding material, I feel it necessary only to briefly touch upon the significant moments of the remaining sections, leaving a more detailed analysis to the next critical response, in conjunction with Heidegger’s further arguments regarding temporality. In §§46 to 60, Heidegger is primarily concerned with the authenticity of Dasein; how, indeed, can Dasein take hold of its freedom disclosed in the openness of the there? In §§46 to 53, Heidegger discusses being-toward-death, the “authentic, existentially projected” being of Dasein:

anticipation [being-ahead-of-itself] reveals to Dasein its lostness [entanglement] in the they-self, and brings it face to face with the possibility to be itself [as the there], primarily unsupported by concern that takes care, but to be itself in passionate, anxious freedom toward death, which is free of the illusions of the they, factical, and certain of itself.” (255)

This existential posture is “attested to” in the phenomenon of “[r]esoluteness,” in which Dasein makes the “explicit choice” of being itself, of being a self (255, 257). In resoluteness, Dasein responds to the “call” of “conscience, the “summoning” of Dasein to its “ownmost being-guilty,” that is, “being a lack,” lacking wholeness, lacking its possibility and end (259). Through its being-toward-death, Dasein is freed for the choosing of its being-guilty, for the “reticent projecting oneself upon one’s ownmost being-guilty which is ready for anxiety” (284). This is the resoluteness of Dasein, its “authentically being-in-the-world” (285), the “purely existential project” which will in fact be attested to in temporality, to be taken up in the remaining sections of Being and Time. Thus, we can see that without a thorough understanding of the “being-in” of Dasein, the horizon of time would remain unavailable to us. The existential project of Dasein, its authentic being attested to in temporality, can only be accessed through Dasein as the there, the between of the world.

Works Cited

Heidegger, Martin. Being and Time. 1927. Translated by Joan Stambaugh, revised by Dennis J. Schmidt, State University of New York Press, 2010.

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