Monday, April 30, 2012
Lilian Alweiss on never getting there.
The fundamental problem is – strange as this may sound – that there ‘is’ no death in Being and Time. We can experience another person’s demise but not his or her death – in the same way as we can only experience ourselves as dying, as comporting ourselves toward death, but cannot experience ourselves as undergoing death. The paradoxical position is thus that we can grasp the certainty of death even though we never die. What Heidegger is trying to articulate is the impossibility of ever experiencing our own death; we only die for others – but this death is not the ultimate impossibility of our existence but the experience of someone going out of existence while we continue to be. The death of the other does not allow us to understand our life – it is not the ultimate limit that makes time intelligible. Heidegger can therefore never call death something actual but only our ‘way of being (manner to be)’ – it has to be understood adverbially and transitively as our movement toward our nullity which makes all being intelligible. However, if this is the case then, as Derrida observes, ‘there is no scandal whatsoever in saying that Dasein remains immortal in its originary being-to-death’. We never die; we never live our end.
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