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Being and Been

What does it mean for something to be and what does it mean for it not to be? What is the relationship between things that are and things that are not?

These and related questions have always fascinated philosophers and continue to attract the attention of contemporary thinkers working in the area of metaphysics. Time Traveler for being The first known use of being was in the 14th century See more words from the same century. More Definitions for being. English Language Learners Definition of being. Kids Definition of being. Comments on being What made you want to look up being? Get Word of the Day daily email! Test Your Vocabulary. Love words? Need even more definitions? The awkward case of 'his or her'. Take the quiz Spell It Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

Take the quiz Syn City Build a city of skyscrapers—one synonym at a time. Play the game. Via the internal connection with anticipation, then, the notion of resoluteness allows Heidegger to rethink the path to Dasein's essential finitude, a finitude that is hidden in fallen-ness, but which, as we have seen, is the condition of possibility for the taking-as structure that is a constitutive aspect of Dasein.

Seen this way, resoluteness correlates more neatly with the idea that human existence is essentially a standing out in an openness to, and in an opening of, Being. In a further hermeneutic spiral, Heidegger concludes that temporality is the a priori transcendental condition for there to be care sense-making, intelligibility, taking-as, Dasein's own distinctive mode of Being. Moreover, it is Dasein's openness to time that ultimately allows Dasein's potential authenticity to be actualized: in authenticity, the constraints and possibilities determined by Dasein's cultural-historical past are grasped by Dasein in the present so that it may project itself into the future in a fully authentic manner, i.

The ontological emphasis that Heidegger places on temporality might usefully be seen as an echo and development of Kant's claim that embeddedness in time is a precondition for things to appear to us the way they do. According to Kant, embeddedness in time is co-determinative of our experience, along with embeddedness in space.

See above for Heidegger's problematic analysis of the relationship between spatiality and temporality. With the Kantian roots of Heidegger's treatment of time acknowledged, it must be registered immediately that, in Heidegger's hands, the notion of temporality receives a distinctive twist. Heidegger is concerned not with clock-time an infinite series of self-contained nows laid out in an ordering of past, present and future or with time as some sort of relativistic phenomenon that would satisfy the physicist. Time thought of in either of these ways is a present-at-hand phenomenon, and that means that it cannot characterize the temporality that is an internal feature of Dasein's existential constitution, the existential temporality that structures intelligibility taking-as.

To make sense of this temporalizing, Heidegger introduces the technical term ecstases. Ecstases are phenomena that stand out from an underlying unity. He later reinterprets ecstases as horizons , in the sense of what limits, surrounds or encloses, and in so doing discloses or makes available. According to Heidegger, temporality is a unity against which past, present and future stand out as ecstases while remaining essentially interlocked. The importance of this idea is that it frees the phenomenologist from thinking of past, present and future as sequentially ordered groupings of distinct events.

The future is not later than having been, and having-been is not earlier than the Present.

Temporality temporalizes itself as a future which makes present in a process of having been. What does this mean and why should we find it compelling?

Beeing vs. Being - What's the difference? | Ask Difference

Perhaps the easiest way to grasp Heidegger's insight here is to follow him in explicitly reinterpreting the different elements of the structure of care in terms of the three phenomenologically intertwined dimensions of temporality. Heidegger argues that for each of these phenomena, one particular dimension of temporality is primary. Thus projection is disclosed principally as the manner in which Dasein orients itself towards its future. Anticipation, as authentic projection, therefore becomes the predominantly futural aspect of what we can now call authentic temporalizing, whereas expectation, as inauthentic projection, occupies the same role for inauthentic temporalizing.

However, since temporality is at root a unitary structure, thrownness, projection, falling and discourse must each have a multi-faceted temporality. Anticipation, for example, requires that Dasein acknowledge the unavoidable way in which its past is constitutive of who it is, precisely because anticipation demands of Dasein that it project itself resolutely onto i.

Confusing Words: Being and Been

And anticipation has a present-related aspect too: in a process that Heidegger calls a moment of vision , Dasein, in anticipating its own death, pulls away from they-self-dominated distractions of the present. Structurally similar analyses are given for the other elements of the care structure. Here is not the place to pursue the details but, at the most general level, thrownness is identified predominantly, although not exclusively, as the manner in which Dasein collects up its past finding itself in relation to the pre-structured field of intelligibility into which it has been enculturated , while fallen-ness and discourse are identified predominantly, although not exclusively, as present-oriented e.

A final feature of Heidegger's intricate analysis concerns the way in which authentic and inauthentic temporalizing are understood as prioritizing different dimensions of temporality. In a sense, then, each such event transcends goes beyond itself as a momentary episode of Being by, in the relevant sense, co-realizing a past and a future along with a present. In the sense that matters, then, Dasein is always a combination of the futural, the historical and the present.

Some worries about Heidegger's analysis of time will be explored below. In the final major development of his analysis of temporality, Heidegger identifies a phenomenon that he calls Dasein's historicality , understood as the a priori condition on the basis of which past events and things may have significance for us. The analysis begins with an observation that Being-towards-death is only one aspect of Dasein's finitude. Not only has Being-towards-the-beginning remained unnoticed; but so too, and above all, has the way in which Dasein stretches along between birth and death.

Dasein's beginning is thus a moment at which a biological human being has become embedded within a pre-existing world, a culturally determined field of intelligibility into which it is thrown and onto which it projects itself. Such worlds are now to be reinterpreted historically as Dasein's heritage.


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Echoing the way in which past, present and future were disclosed as intertwined in the analysis of temporality, Dasein's historicality has the effect of bringing the past its heritage alive in the present as a set of opportunities for future action. In the original German, Heidegger calls this phenomenon Wiederholung , which Macquarrie and Robinson translate as repetition. The idea here is not that I can do nothing other than repeat the actions of my cultural ancestors, but rather that, in authentic mode, I may appropriate those past actions own them, make them mine as a set of general models or heroic templates onto which I may creatively project myself.

Hammering Heidegger Home

Thus, retrieving may be a more appropriate translation. Historizing is an a priori structure of Dasein's Being as care that constitutes a stretching along between Dasein's birth as the entity that takes-as and death as its end, between enculturation and finitude.

It is debatable whether the idea of creative appropriation does enough to allay the suspicion that the concept of heritage introduces a threat to our individual freedom in an ordinary sense of freedom by way of some sort of social determinism. For example, since historicality is an aspect of Dasein's existential constitution, it is arguable that Heidegger effectively rules out the possibility that I might reinvent myself in an entirely original way.

Moreover, Polt draws our attention to a stinging passage from earlier in Being and Time which might be taken to suggest that any attempt to take on board elements of cultures other than one's own should be judged an inauthentic practice indicative of fallen-ness. This sets the stage for Heidegger's own final elucidation of human freedom. According to Heidegger, I am genuinely free precisely when I recognize that I am a finite being with a heritage and when I achieve an authentic relationship with that heritage through the creative appropriation of it.

As he explains:. Once one has grasped the finitude of one's existence, it snatches one back from the endless multiplicity of possibilities which offer themselves as closest to one—those of comfortableness, shirking and taking things lightly—and brings Dasein to the simplicity of its fate. This phenomenon, a final reinterpretation of the notion of resoluteness, is what Heidegger calls primordial historizing or fate. And crucially, historizing is not merely a structure that is partly constitutive of individual authentic Dasein.

Heidegger also points out the shared primordial historizing of a community , what he calls its destiny. When the contemporary reader of Being and Time encounters the concepts of heritage, fate and destiny, and places them not only in the context of the political climate of mid-to-late s Germany, but also alongside Heidegger's later membership of the Nazi party, it is hard not to hear dark undertones of cultural chauvinism and racial prejudice.

This worry becomes acute when one considers the way in which these concepts figure in passages such as the following, from the inaugural rectoral address that Heidegger gave at Freiburg University in The third bond [knowledge service, in addition to labour service and military service] is the one that binds the [German] students to the spiritual mission of the German Volk. This Volk is playing an active role in shaping its own fate by placing its history into the openness of the overpowering might of all the world-shaping forces of human existence and by struggling anew to secure its spiritual world… The three bonds— through the Volk to the destiny of the state in its spiritual mission—are equally original aspects of the German essence.

The Self-Assertion of the German University , 35—6. The issue of Heidegger's later relationship with Nazi politics and ideology will be discussed briefly below. For the moment, however, it is worth saying that the temptation to offer extreme social determinist or Nazi reconstructions of Being and Time is far from irresistible.

And that does not sound nearly so pernicious. One might think that an unpalatable relativism is entailed by any view which emphasizes that understanding is never preconception-free. But that would be too quick. Of course, if authentic Dasein were individualized in the sense of being a self-sufficient Cartesian subject, then perhaps an extreme form of subjectivist relativism would indeed beckon.

Being and Been

This reconnects us with our earlier remark that the philosophical framework advocated within Being and Time appears to mandate a kind of cultural relativism. This seems right, but it is important to try to understand precisely what sort of cultural relativism is on offer.

Here is one interpretation. Although worlds networks of involvements, what Heidegger sometimes calls Reality are culturally relative phenomena, Heidegger occasionally seems to suggest that nature, as it is in itself , is not.


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Under these circumstances, nature is revealed in certain culturally specific forms determined by our socially conditioned patterns of skilled practical activity. On the other hand, when nature is discovered as present-at-hand, by say science, its intelligibility has an essentially cross-cultural character.

Being There

Indeed, Heidegger often seems to hold the largely commonsense view that there are culture-independent causal properties of nature which explain why it is that you can make missiles out of rocks or branches, but not out of air or water. Science can tell us both what those causal properties are, and how the underlying causal processes work. If the picture just sketched is a productive way to understand Heidegger, then, perhaps surprisingly, his position might best be thought of as a mild kind of scientific realism.

For, on this interpretation, one of Dasein's cultural practices, the practice of science, has the special quality of revealing natural entities as they are in themselves, that is, independently of Dasein's culturally conditioned uses and articulations of them. Indeed, Being concerns sense-making intelligibility , and the different ways in which entities make sense to us, including as present-at-hand , are dependent on the fact that we are Dasein, creatures with a particular mode of Being. Understood properly, then, the following two claims that Heidegger makes are entirely consistent with each other.

Both quotations from Being and Time , How does all this relate to Heidegger's account of truth? Answering this question adds a new dimension to the pivotal phenomenon of revealing. Heidegger points out that the philosophical tradition standardly conceives of truth as attaching to propositions, and as involving some sort of correspondence between propositions and states of affairs. But whereas for the tradition as Heidegger characterizes it , propositional truth as correspondence exhausts the phenomenon of truth, for Heidegger, it is merely the particular manifestation of truth that is operative in those domains, such as science, that concern themselves with the Real.