What Heidegger Means by Being-in-the-World

Topics: Ontology, Existentialism, Martin Heidegger Pages: 9 (3493 words) Published: May 17, 2006
What Heidegger Means by Being-in-the-World
Martin Heidegger's main interest was to raise the issue of Being, that is, to make sense of our capacity to make sense of things. Additionally he wished to rekindle the notion that although difficult to understand, this issue was of utmost importance (Dreyfus 1991). Heidegger's study, however, was of a specific type of Being, the human being, referred to by Heidegger as ‘Dasein', which literally means ‘Being-there' (Solomon 1972). By using the expression Dasein, Heidegger called attention to the fact that a human being cannot be taken into account except as being an existent in the middle of a world amongst other things (Warnock 1970), that Dasein is ‘to be there' and ‘there' is the world. To be human is to be fixed, embedded and immersed in the physical, literal, tangible day to day world (Steiner 1978). The purpose of this paper is to offer an explanation of what Heidegger meant by ‘Being-in-the-world'. Heidegger was concerned that philosophy should be capable of telling us the meaning of Being, of the where and what Dasein is. Heidegger postulated that, the world ‘is', and that this fact is naturally the primordial phenomenon and the basis of all ontological inquiry. For Heidegger the world is here, now and everywhere around us. We are totally immersed in it, and after all, how could we be anywhere ‘else'? Husserl had previously spoken of a ‘Lebenswelt' (life-world) to stress the solidness of the human encapsulation within reality, but Heidegger's ‘grounding' was more complete. Heidegger articulated this entrenchment with the composite, In-der-welt-sein (a ‘Being-in-the-world', a ‘to-be-in-the-world') (Steiner 1978). For Heidegger, "Dasein is an entity which, in its very Being, comports itself understandingly towards that Being." And further, "Dasein exists. Furthermore, Dasein is an entity which in each case I myself am. Mineness belongs to any existent Dasein, and belongs to it as the condition which makes authenticity and inauthenticity possible." (1) For Heidegger, Dasein may exist in either one of two modes, (authenticity or inauthenticity), or it is modally undistinguished, but Dasein's character needs to be understood a-priori as being ‘grounded' in the state of Being that he called ‘Being-in-the-world' (Heidegger 1962). ‘Being-in-the-world', for Heidegger stood for a unitary phenomenon and needed be seen as a whole. However, Heidegger was aware that the expression had several components to its structure. There was the duty to examine the ontological structure of the ‘world' and define its ‘in-the-world-ness'. Also, the identity of the ‘Who' that is within the mode of Dasein's average everydayness needs to be sought out, and, the ontological establishment of ‘Being-in' needs to be proposed (Heidegger 1962). Heidegger was concerned with Dasein's distinctive method of being-in, which is at variance with the manner in which one object can be in another (Dreyfus 1991). In Being and Time Heidegger wrote; "What is meant by "Being-in"? Our proximal reaction is to round out this expression to "Being-in" ‘in the world'", and we are inclined to understand this Being-in as ‘Being in something' ….as the water is ‘in' the glass, or the garment is ‘in' the cupboard. By this ‘in' we mean the relationship of Being which two entities extended ‘in' space have to each other with regard to their location in that space……Being-present-at-hand-along-with in the sense of a definite location-relationship with something else which has the same kind of Being, are ontological characteristics which we call ‘categorial' " For Heidegger, these types of ‘categorial' Beings belong to entities whose kind of Being is not Dasein. Heidegger continued that, on the other hand, Being-in is an existentiale state of Dasein's Being and it cannot be thought of in terms of the Being-present-at-hand of a corporeal Thing ‘in' an entity which is present at hand. Heidegger went on to say, " ‘Being-in' is thus the...
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