Friday, February 15, 2008

Being & Time II, Part 2: The They's Understanding and Care

Da-sein is dispersed into the they and thrown into possibilities. The they has its own modes of understanding and interpretation. These are idle talk, curiosity and ambiguity.

Discourse shares what is disclosed - but the mark of idle talk is that it does not go back to the original disclosure. It is discourse that only offers the most average, leveled down understanding. It’s almost like speaking for the sake of speaking; it has no relation to the being being spoken of. Because idle talk offers a leveled down understanding, it can understand everything.

Curiosity corresponds to sight as a mode of disclosing. Just like idle talk understands everything, curiosity sees everything. Ambiguity has the same sort of thing going on. Ambiguity is what “everyone knows.” It knows what everyone else thinks and feels. These three elements sound very much like common sense.

Idle talk, curiosity and ambiguity constitute the entanglement of Da-sein. This is how Da-sein is in the world, initially and for the most part. Da-sein is fallen prey into the world. It’s an absorption in the they. This entanglement is the inauthenticity of Da-sein. This entanglement is Da-sein not being itself. Heidegger says Da-sein is “tempted” into falling prey; it confuses Da-sein into thinking all of its possibilities are open to it, when in fact they are leveled.

It is important to note that Da-sein be falling prey only because it is concerned, understanding, attuned being in the world.

Now, 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, disclosure, 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. 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.

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.

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.

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