Monday, August 27, 2007

B&T 9: Care and Angst

Part 8

On the first page of chapter 6, Heidegger summarizes everything that has been said thus far. On the basis of attunement, Da-sein has a mode of being in which is brought before itself - it is disclosed to itself in attunement. It is disclosed to itself in its thrownness. Thrownness is a way of being of a being that is its possibilities; it understands itself from them, and in them. It projects itself upon its possibilities. Being in the world involves both taking care of things and being with others. The self is, initially and for the most part, dispersed in the they and entangled in the world. So, the average everydayness of Da-sein can be described as, and I quote from page 170, “entangled-disclosed, thrown projecting being in the world which is concerned with its ownmost potentiality in its being together with the world and in being-with the others.” Easy as pie.

So what is the point of this chapter? Being in the world is a structure that is primordial and constantly whole. Until now, the structure’s moments have all been discussed individually. Understanding, attunement, being with, etc. But how is the totality of the structural whole to be described? What unites everything that’s been said so far?

Care. Care is the unity of the structural totality of Da-sein BitW. Care is actually BitW as such. This isn’t the same as wishing, urging, watching, etc; these things are founded on care. But what discloses care as fundamental? What is Da-sein’s fundamental attunement?

Angst. Angst is what provides the basis for grasping the totality of Da-sein. Remember the description of fear? Fear is fear of something. One can find this desk fearsome. It’s something present, something in the world. What distinguishes Angst from fear is that angst does not have an object. Angst is anxious over nothing. Literally, the nothing. Nothing definite, nothing present.

Tranquilization makes one feel at home; angst interrupts this feeling. Angst makes one feel uncanny. Falling prey does not run from possibilities or things, but to them, in order to find tranquilization. Angst thwarts this; angst is anxious about being in the world as such. It is in fact angst that individualizes Da-sein; it does not create an isolated subject, it merely brings Da-sein back before itself out of the they. The world loses its significance, and Da-sein is brought back before itself out of dispersion in the they.

So the unity of Da-sein lies in the fact that it is concerned in its being about that being. BitW itself is care. Being with things is taking care of them and being with the Mitda-sein of others is concern. Being concerned about its being, Da-sein is always being ahead of itself, projecting forward into possibilities. When Da-sein is being ahead of itself in such a way that it is being towards its ownmost possibility - which is death - the possibility of being free for authentic existentiell possibilities is opened up.

In Division 2, this is what will come to be known as anticipatory resolutness - the being towards death that individuates one, allows one to pursue one’s own possibilities as opposed to the possibilities handed over to it by the they.

Because that possibility is determined by freedom, one is just as free to leave one’s possibilities entirely to the they. Do everything the way one does things.

Now, the basis of the structural totality of Da-sein, care lies “before” every attitude and position of Da-sein. Care is the a-priori condition of both theory and praxis. Political and social action are only possible for a being that is unified by care.

In section 42, which I looked at midnight last night, Heidegger relates a roman myth about care. If there’s one point in Being and Time that has no need to exist, this is it. Every time I look at that chapter I think Heidegger must have had Stephen King’s editor. Anyways, the point of the chapter is that care rules Da-sein’s “temporal sojourn in the world.”

No comments: