Issue #09 December 2017

What is Dasein?

The Ego

1. The Features of Dasein

2. Everydayness (structures of)

Yannick Scott — “From Redundancy to Renewal” — “Pragmatic Field” (2014)


John C. Brady is a perennial student of philosophy and educator situated in Beijing. He gets most of his reading done in traffic jams. He is also a co-editor of this magazine, by way of full disclosure.

Works Cited


Dasein does literally mean “there is”, however, it is one of many German compound words that is immediately grasped in an original sense beyond the parts, in this case: “presence”. Heidegger plays with all of these senses, and it was prudent of his original translators into English to leave it untranslated. Though a certain colour is lost (as is unavoidable in any translation) the resultant textual clarity (of having a specific technical term to hold on to) more than makes up for it.


Moran here is referring to the Aristotlean notion of humans as the “rational animal” and the biblical (and also Cartesian) idea of man as spiritual/physical dual substance, rather than the reductive physicalism mentioned by Esfield. However, Heidegger’s criticisms stand equally before any definition of human nature that attempts to fix the human in place by way of essential properties.


This “going beneath” is also motivated by the simple fact that questioning the Sum, the being that exists prior to the Cartesian Ego that it takes part in has not even been attempted before.


This is where Heidegger introduces the normative category of “Authenticity”. Dasein is always its choices and possibilities, but doesn’t often realize this. Often it just carries out actions because “that’s what one does”, thus disavowing its responsibility in its choosing to choose a course of action. This is Dasein in an inauthentic mode. However, inauthentic Dasein is not for that reason lacking in any of the being that Dasein is. The difference is one of comportment towards oneself and one’s being. Accordingly, we will not spend time exploring this distinction in this analysis of basic features.


However, doesn’t “first-personal” imply a person or consciousness already given? It needn’t. We merely need to indicate that within the entire field of Being, from spatial-temporal entities, to faculties, to concepts and theories and people and consciousnesses and so on, there is not one part that is untouched by a fundamental directionality all converging on a point. This “directionality” shouldn’t be taken in the pure geometrical sense, but rather in the sense of “happening here->”


That is to say it is merely a matter of order: first Dasein just is in the two ways we have mentioned, and then, because of this, it is immediately turned over to its everyday structures.


Given, of course, that these abstract worlds permitted a “working-out” or “working-through”, that is, they are temporal. In an absolutely simultaneous world, there would be no possibilities to “work out” or “through”, thus we couldn’t have Dasein, or, conversely, Dasein would introduce temporality into simultaneity.


P1: Only things that share some context can be related together.

P2: Regarding two things as distinct is to relate them together, in the relation of the one being distinct from the other.

C: So, if things can be regarded as distinct, then they must first share some context.


Unless, of course, one invariably places the USB in upside down. Then the features and composition of object come to the fore. The kind of “obtrusiveness” of this experience, whereby we then closely examine and are made aware of the USB as an object, present-at-hand, is precisely how Heidegger believes the present-at-hand arises in the first place. That is, when an element within the field of equipment breaks, becomes obtrusive, or is missing. (Heidegger, 2008, p.107).


Heidegger goes on to argue that the Cartesian notion of space as infinitely divisible and quantizable plane is the present-at-hand derivation of a more fundamental organization of space by differential distributions of care and the motions of various activities (Heidegger, 2008, pp.122–134).


“Paley’s Watch” demonstrates this precisely: there is no other way to take a watch found in the woods than as having been designed, bought, carried and lost by others, in line with Dasein’s concerns/care. In fact it is not a matter of “taking” it one way or another; the watch presents itself already with this understanding. Our world we find ourselves in, as it is, is composed almost entirely of such objects (even the neat lines of trees along the street and the geometrically allocated patches of grass), always referring us, Dasein, beyond ourselves and onto a mass of unknown others, who we also take to be like us, more Dasein.


December 2017


On Honneth’s Reification: or why Marx is not (yet) the messiah

by Daniel Rhodes

Coraline and Freud. Distinguishing Being and Semblance

by Timofei Gerber

What is Dasein?

by John C. Brady


fiction by Blake Stone-Banks

Nietzsche’s “How the ‘Real World’ at last Became a Myth”