Sunday, February 09, 2020
Steven Conway and Andrew Trevillian on becoming vorhanden.
Heidegger's term for the human being, Dasein, 'being-there' (often summarised as being-in-the-world), emphasises the embodied, situated nature of cognition. Building on this, Heidegger offers two primary modes of interaction with equipment (defined as tools oriented towards a particular end): zuhandenheit (ready-to-hand) and vorhandenheit (present-at-hand). When, due to my competence at being-there, I act through an object that withdraws from conscious circumspection, yet mediates myaction, it is zuhanden. Yet if the object fills my intentionality, it is vorhanden. For example in typing asentence the keyboard is zuhanden; I am not aware of each individual keystroke as I type, my fingershave a proprioceptive intelligence and locate the appropriate keys without conscious effort. Yet inwriting this sentence a key jams; the keyboard is now unready -to-hand and I am beset by aporia.
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