Monday, August 27, 2018
Nancy J. Holland on the errancy of Dasein.
In Dasein, both the "correct" behavior and its "deformation" are possible because of the nature of the human psyché. Both behaviors depend on two facts: Dasein's "soul" or form is already in motion (as opposed to, for example, the form of a stone); and Dasein's soul has some sense of what it is on the way to, It is not merely moving toward its goal but striving toward it. In the negative case this motion has "gone awry." A dog that attacks a man has not "gone awry," because it is following either its instincts or its training; it has done what it was meant to do. A person who wrestles another to the ground in a malicious attack, on the other hand, has deviated what Dasein was meant to be. The soul's "being-underway," according to Heidegger, reflects Dasein's ontological structure as Being-in. Here, he emphasizes that this Being-in is "permeated by ἄγνοια," which he defines as "a certain infatuation with immediately given appearances, on the basis of which all further experiences of the world are interpreted, interrogated, and explained." This point echoes a common theme: "the knowledge arising in this way can become science and as such can be nurtured and cherished," though it also contains a striving "toward an ἀληθεύειν which has the potential to break through the actual ignorance" (Heidegger 1997, 253—56).
This passage can be glossed two ways. The more "normal" way would be to take the case of someone like a trained wrestler, who may think that he sees a world in which he can attack people from behind and rob them with impunity. He may even make a "science" of such attacks and become quite skillful at them. But his soul, or his form, will always be the form of a Dasein capable of seeing the world as one in which money is less important than living ethically. This phenomenon may manifest itself as guilt, remorse, or deep dissatisfaction with life. No matter what his circumstances, part of the wrestler will strive toward what Plato would consider a healthier, less deformed way of life based on a truer perception of the world and his place in it.
But Heidegger leaves open another way of interpreting this passage. On a societal level, an interpretation of the world based on "idle talk" (a term that appears several times in these lectures) might see a life of leisure as the most desirable life, no matter how it is attained. This desire might lead to a science geared toward reducing labor and producing more items with less expenditure of energy. Such a science, based on efficiencies of scale, might emphasize the 'benefit' of reducing everything to potential energy, or what Heidegger called "standing reserve" a decade later. We will see where this line of thought eventually takes Heidegger, but my point here is to emphasize the close connection between the problems of modernity, his interpretation of the ancient Greek texts, and his views on the nature of "consciousness"—that is, Dasein.
Pp. 42-43
From Heidegger and the Problem of Consciousness.
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