Heidegger’s “The Being of the Entities Encountered in the Environment”
The Being of the Entities Encountered in the Environment is section 15 of division 1 of Heidegger’s monumental Being & Time. In this section he analyzes how entities are given to us as we encounter in them. In line with his project of studying our existence in its average “everydayness” he discards the classical approach to entities (as discrete objects beheld by a subject) as already too theorized, too specialized. To the “object”, as beheld by a subject and treated as distinct, Heidegger attributes the term “Present-at-hand” (or, more specifically, he thus names the the kind of being possessed by such discrete, intellectually regarded objects).
Digging in under this, and trying to analyze how things appear to us when we are not intellectually regarding them, he discovers a more fundamental ontological layer: the Ready-to-hand. Before we can grasp an individual object intellectually, we must already encounter it in a field of useable and useful objects that we move around in when we are just busy getting stuff done. These ‘bits of equipment’ are not so much individual tools, but a vast network of interconnected devices, workshops, factories, quarries, forests, that we manipulate in line with our concerns.