The Partially Examined Life (Citizens): (Protected Content)
Continuing from part one on Being and Time, now up to Ch. 2, sec. 12 on what our "being-in-the-world" amounts to.
According to H, we are not in the world like a shoe is in a shoebox. Rather, the world is part of our existential structure, providing a background for our actions. Our primary relation to it is not knowing, as if we were a subject beholding a painting, but more like (just to carry forward this metaphor) always already being in the painting.
The main question of the section is "what is it for an object to become encounterable to us?" Given that we're already immersed in the world, for something to actually become a focus for us is nothing like what it's like for two physical objects to bump into each other. Strictly speaking (H says), two such objects never touch each other at all, not because of how much space is between molecules or anything physical like that, but because "touching" is for H a technical term for a particular way that we (Dasein) encounter entities in the world. You might say that individual entities become foregrounded for us: They were always there in some sense as part of the stream we're swimming in, and they solidify as something actually encountered as a specific item. What makes this world (painting, stream) difficult to talk about is that it's not a collection of things, which again would be looking at "things" of the world as science does and just saying that the world is the set of all things. Rather the world is singular and doesn't have parts, and again, neither is it merely a container for all these items that are not parts of it (like many shoes in a shoebox). So this sounds as mysterious as classical discussions of God, whereby God is somehow entirely singular and simple despite having many properties and in some sense encompassing everything else. What's the deal? Is H actually giving an accurate account of our experience (our phenomenology) in describing this mysterious "world," or is he just engaging in gratuitous mystification?
Is H a process philosopher? A pragmatist? How is "being with" for two people different than two shoes being together in a shoebox? Is immorality for H exactly a matter of treating another person as a mere present-to-hand object (per Kant)? We talk about facticity vs. factuality, concern (taking care, or in German besorgen ) vs. care (sorgen), knowledge vs. familiarity, and why you shouldn't call H's world Being an "environment."
Next episode: We're doing some Renaissance neo-Platonism with Peter Adamson: Marsilio Ficino's theory of love as communicated through his Commentary on Plato's Symposium on Love (1475). Listen to Peter's History of Philosophy episode about it.
Leave a Reply