Issue #15 July 2018

Pulling the Normative Threads of Heidegger’s ‘Das Man’

Finding ‘Das Man’

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So, Dasein possesses the ontological possibility of encountering others because being-with is part of its fundamental constitution (it makes up one of the necessary structures of Dasein’s being-in-the-world; other people are a fundamental and irreducible component of Dasein’s environment). We encounter these others in their particularity as the terminus of the ‘in-order-to’ of equipment. We encounter these others in generality, as a shadowy and non-descript ‘anyone’ when we use a piece of equipment at all. This ‘anyone’ is given in those phrases of the type “One holds a pen like this” (“So hält einen Stift”). I ‘understand’ what a pen is and how it works through reference to this ‘anyone’, and I make myself this ‘anyone’ when I wield the pen as anyone should.

Case: Cooking While Writing

Normative Thread 1: Mere Standard Use

We will explore some of the run-on implications of Dreyfus’ reading below. Suffice it to say at this point that insofar as Das Man defines the patterns of use for equipment (and even the forms this equipment takes), and this equipment forms a referential totality which is the world, the world itself is irrefutably marked by Das Man. The ‘Covering up’ and ‘Concealing’ that Das Man effects is then a mere ‘naturalizing’ of culture to conceal the mutual relativity of these patterns of use (Dreyfus, 1995, p.157). “One eats three meals day” presents itself as a necessary biological fact concerning rates of hunger and metabolisms and so on, rather than a particular cultural time-table that depends upon kinds of food and portioning practices and work practices and so on, which all depend on the cultural time-table.

Normative Thread 2. The Standard User

Normative Thread 3: The Standard User as Ideal

Understanding the Danger of Das Man

Possible ‘Dreyfusian’ Solution

Dreyfus’ Aims — The Possibility of Authenticity

Heidegger’s Answer to the Dilemma

Dreyfus’ Objection

Another, Pessimistic, Solution?

John C. Brady is a 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


July 2018


An Aesthetics of Injury from Baudelaire to Tarantino

Daniel Rhodes in conversation with Prof. Ian Fleishman

Against Consolations, Alain De Botton, and the Demand for Accessibility

by Ranier Abengaña

Narrating Life. Dimensions of the Biographical in “Millenium Actress”

by Timofei Gerber

A Guide to Timothy Morton’s Humankind

by Omar Baig

Pulling the Normative Threads of Heidegger’s ‘Das Man’

by John C. Brady

Bergson’s “The Possible and The Real”