Understanding Being and Time

Originally published in the Florida Student Philosophy Blog

The newborn just entered into the world, may say to herself, “I am soiled; I am hungry, and decidedly uncomfortable.  Surely, my mother knows this. Why then does she not come to feed and change me?”  Although surrounded by others, we are profoundly isolated, able to communicate only a small portion of our thoughts, feelings, and observations and unable to fully apprehend what others are attempting to communicate to us.  I think that it is this striking isolation that causes us to first consider the nature of our being.  Long before I knew the word philosophy, I stared intently at my own hand, concluding that whatever this wonderfully constructed organism was, it was not “me”.  I was apart from it, enclosed by it, wearing it if you will, but not it.  This was my first impression of my own “being.” Martin Heidegger made the contemplation and explanation of “being” his life’s work.  

Dasein

Descartes’ statement “Cogito Ergo Sum” posits existence based upon the apparent reality of thought.  He describes the body as extension of the mind into the world, while the mind itself remains in a metaphysical dimension.[1]  Heidegger heralds the end of metaphysics by establishing being totally within the physical dimension.  Heidegger takes a close look at being beginning with a general statement of the question. He allows that because everybody experiences being and assumes that they know what it is; the question of being is largely ignored as a matter for deep philosophical investigation. Heidegger insists that the opposite should be the case.[2]  Simply because everyone experiences existence does not mean that everyone or anyone comprehends it. Two other objections, that being is universal and all encompassing thereby making it specifically indefinable, and that the self-evident nature of being is that it is due to its being the medium in which all things take place and are observed drive Heidegger to insist that these make it even more important that we consider the nature of it.  ‘Being’ cannot be described by an Aristotelian categorization; placing it as a type of species within a more general genus. It is unique. But this does not negate the fact of its meaning and the importance of considering it.[3] The fact that we are aware of “being” at all is what makes humans different from all other creatures. We define ‘being’ by our reasoning and choices or at least circumscribe our own interpretation.  We are constantly aware of being just as we are of breathing.  Nothing occurs in our lives, generally, when we are not breathing.   Medical science has come to be able to tell us practically everything about the biological process of breathing.  Heidegger’s project is for us to come to know the actual phenomenological essence of being.[4]  But this is a far more difficult task as he will have no cadaver to examine for clues.   He decides his first task is how to form the question and concludes that he is asking questions about the nature of the very being that is asking the questions; addressing them to himself, as each one of us must also do.  He labels himself and suggests that we must do the same, as that “which includes inquiring as one the possibilities of its being… (That we are already always in it. We are) Dasein.”[5]

So the argument arises “How shall we give an explication of ‘Being’ without first describing the being of the entity doing the explicating?  But Heidegger suggests that this inquiry need not be circular in nature, but rather linear, as we may observe the facticity of the entity making the inquiry about “ Being”, that it, Dasein, we individually, seem to have a special interest in the explication “being” and seem further to be the chief source of any investigation or inquiry about “being.”[6]    Buddha is reported to have said “Every wakeful step, every mindful act is the direct path to awakening. Wherever you go, there you are.”  Dasein is a combination of two words, (the German) “Da”, which means “here” and “Sein”, German for “to be”. Thus Dasein may be read as “to be here”.[7] I rather think it may be freely interchanged with the words “I”, “You” “He” “She”, although Heidegger seems to prefer, “It”.  Perhaps he does this to help distance us from that which we are in fact in order that we may take a more dispassionate view.   Heidegger notes that “Being is always the being of an entity.” [8]  If this were to refer to any object that has a corporal existence in the real world, this covers just about everything in the universe. In contrast, Heidegger makes the claim that Dasein is existentially unique in that it is metaphysically minded.[9]  It questions the nature of its existence.  The basic questions about Dasein that must be answered regarding its being are what can be discovered about it ontically, that is the basic facts of its existence, and ontologically its process of becoming.[10]

This daunting task is a matter of self-analysis, as there is no other “being” that lends itself to such analysis. A complete understanding of Dasein being easier to grasp by observing it over a period of time, we should consider Dasein during those times most representative of its existence, during its “average everydayness.”[11]  This is referred to by Heidegger in a general sense as “being in the world”.

Being in the World

Dasein is always by necessity in the world and so we must always remember that when we think of Dasein it is always in conjunction with its being in the world.[12]  However Heidegger finds it beneficial to focus on various aspects of this idea, the nature of the world that Dasein finds itself in, the observable reality of the entity that is being.  Finally he looks at what may be observed about the mechanics of the ‘being in’ part of being in the world.  As Dasein conducts himself in the world he does this authentically or inauthentically depending on whether Dasein is in complete control of judgments, decisions and actions, or being swayed by the mores, customs, and assigned place in the social system.[13]  Heidegger does state that that Dasein is already in the world before it begins to take an ontological view of the world.  It is difficult for me to see how it would have anything else beside the other beings and entities in the world, those things that have been prepared for it as ready-to-hand, as well as the signage, and language provided by other Dasein.  The weight of such social conditioning, if in fact that is all that is what Dasein’s nature amounts to it would be impossible to escape.

Worldhood

Heidegger thinks that without the world there can be no Dasein, that they are inextricably bound together.  It seems that it is better for me to think “universe” when Heidegger uses the word “world.” For it is not the idea that I am standing on a gigantic piece of silicone suspended in orbit around a star.  No matter where I am in the universe, I am in the world of Dasein and the interrelated equipment that has come along with it.  Nor, as Heidegger says, am I as the entity Dasein standing side by side with the entity called world.[14]  I am not in the world as a Jack is in the box. Rather, I am a part of the world as wood grain is part of wood.   If as Heidegger believes, I am what I do, the fact is that I do nothing without doing it in the world, as a result of, in response to, and utilizing the substance of the world.

Heidegger makes much of Dasein’s being in the world and the presence of other objects in the world that are “present at hand”, saying that Dasein may be “taken as merely present at hand” by other Dasein in that it does have a existential spatiality but nevertheless distinguishes itself in that it demonstrates its being in the world as demonstrating a constant “concern”; a caring, an intellectual involvement with the world around it.  He rejects as naïve the idea “that man is, in the first instance, as spiritual thing which subsequently gets inserted ‘into’ a space.”[15]   Dasein is focusing on the entities and activity around it in world that it has been a part of and which has been the sole focus of its awareness of for as long as Dasein has been aware.  Along with this factual existence of the world being all those things that are present at hand, those entities immediately available around us, Heidegger describes worldhood as our interpretation of the being of those things, what they mean to Dasein.[16]  The world is also interpreted by Dasein as those things which it is not.  Finally, worldhood is expressed as the totality of that described above both ontological and existential, what seems to be and what is, and Dasein right in middle.  This is the everyday world that Dasein in concerned with and has its dealings with, and in its dealings Dasein is able to analyze the phenomena of the entities around it, the distinctive way in which they are encountered, in which they show themselves in themselves. [17]  This is because as Dasein goes about its business it utilizes entities that help it accomplish its aims.  Out of all the entities present at hand in the world, these items are a special set called “equipment” something  used “in order to” accomplish something else and accordingly never stands alone but is associated with a group of other things i.e.: nail, shoe, horse, knight, battle, kingdom.  More simply what need of a pen, if there is no ink to write with, or paper to write upon?[18]   Equipment that we have available for our uses are tools “ready to hand”, and most of them we use without thinking.  Our consciousness of them is eclipsed by the work which we are performing which in turn fades in perspective to the project that is to be accomplished. [19]  It is our immersion in this process that makes it even more difficult to analyze the phenomena of those entities.  Nevertheless our processes are not so seamless for us to remain continually absorbed without distraction.  The object ready at hand which we must use to accomplish our work is broken, or we cannot find the one we need, or something ‘stands in the way’ some other pressing matter, an appointment perhaps which prevents us from accomplishing that which our mind had been set upon.[20]  Heidegger says that when this happens we become aware of the world as a subject for analysis of what had previously been an unconsidered means of facilitation.   He summarizes Being-in-the-world as, “a non-thematic circumspective absorption in references or assignments constitutive for the readiness to hand of a totality of equipment.”[21]    So he is saying that Dasein is continually occupied in making note of or using any all objects that may be generally useful to Dasein in the accomplishment of its projects.[22]  Further that the frustration of Dasein’s projects heightens this activity making it a conscious act rather than a subconscious one.

Signs

Heidegger devotes a whole section to the idea of signs.  In the earlier part of the section he suggests that assignments (defining a piece of equipment as something-in-order to) and referential totalities (relating each piece of equipment to all the equipment ready-to-hand for Dasein) was what made up the world.  He speaks about signs as a very special part of equipment that lights up the world in the way that concern or interruptions of Dasein’s projects do.  Because signs point to other things, or concepts, they confirm the referential totality of the world and are both equipment and reference.[23]  He speaks broadly of signs, not just the type that directs us to the Dasein’s Room, or the words on the twenty-five ounce Estwing that tell us that this is framing hammer with milled face[24], but things like the wind, which tells a farmer when the rain is coming.  A sign is something that factually exists and is ready to hand, (we are able to see and understand it, we can ‘read’ it) which is both equipment and something that points us to other interconnected equipment, and the nature of the world as an interconnected group of equipment.  It seems to me that this idea of signs could be extended to include longer groups of words than those that are commonly seen on billboards, perhaps even books on philosophy, which direct us to ideas that are just as ready-to-hand as tools for the accomplishment of our projects.  I do not see why speech might not also be included, as signs by any other Dasein’s seem to be included by Heidegger, why not their words as well?  Dasein being an integral part of the world is the being that assigns the value of whether an entity is a tool ready-at-hand by Dasein’s own understanding of it as such, as it does to all of the equipment in the referential totality and to “disclose such things as ‘significations’; upon these, in turn, is founded the being of words and of language.”[25] I think it must also follow that the worldhood of the world, its equipment and signs must also work against Dasein’s struggle for authenticity as much as the customs and socio-political history of the world does, as all these things are given significance, interpretation, and assignation by each individual Dasein.

At this point in Being and Time, Heidegger takes a few pages to contrast his view of being with that of Descartes’.  He throws down the gantlet in the introduction:

With the ‘cogito sum’ Descartes had claimed that he was putting philosophy on a new and firm footing. But what he left undetermined when he began in this ‘radical’ way was the kind of being which belongs to the res cogitans, or—more precisely—the meaning of the being of the sum.[26]

He quotes Descartes “we can understand nothing else than an entity which is in such a way that it need no other entity in order to be.”  In its purest form this must refer to God,[27]  God then is the creator of all other beings. [28]  Heidegger takes issue with Descartes contention that man is first a thinking being before he is thrust into a physical world, holding that Dasein is always being-in the world and without the referential totality of the world cannot function.  This called to my mind Psalms 139:13. “For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb”, so that it very well may be that man’s existence is at least initially bound up in the physical world, so that although created in the image of and having a nature like God’s, his being bound to world makes Heidegger’s observations about Dasein understandable and his objections about considering the being of man and the being of God as metaphysical even though they are ‘infinitely’ different.[29]   A Christian view of this might counter that “[w] hen God created man, he made him in the likeness of God,”[30] and that before the fall of Adam the state of the substances ‘ens perfectissimum’ and ‘ens creatum” was not as dramatically different as they are now.  Nevertheless the idea that man, made in the image of God but not yet as perfect in his ways as God would, at least initially need a referential totality such as the world in order to think and function seems quite plausible.

Being-With and Being-One’s Self

Having worked through his definition of Dasein and of the world Heidegger now turns his attention to the composite whole Dasein always-in-the-world and asks the initial question, “Who is Dasein in its everydayness?”[31]  Dasein cannot be referred to as “I” because Heidegger has held earlier that Dasein cannot exist apart from the world.  Yet is seems obvious to me that I exist.  Heidegger warns against the obviousness of this question masking the need to describe it in a phenomenologically appropriate manner.  He even posits the idea that the “who’ of everyday Dasein just is not the ‘I myself.”[32]  As we are also aware of other Dasein, we will first discover Dasein in the mode of existence with others, Heidegger’s mitdasein.  Perhaps Heidegger feels that just as the being of Dasein is impossible outside of the physical referential totality, so too the personality of Dasein is impossible outside of a group within which Dasein is able to interact.[33] In the world we not only encounter others but the things in our environment that are ready-to-hand for other Dasein but not for us.  So being-in-the-world always involves being-with-others and therefore because Dasein is always-in-the-world it is always mitzein, with others. This allows for the possibility of it being with other Dazein.  Dasein is a part of the group and does not distinguish itself from them in that it is not with something entity dramatically different from itself.  Dasein is always mitdasein in the world.[34]  Even in solitude, Dasein cannot escape being-with but is operating in a lesser “privative mode.” [35]

Care as the Being of Dasein

Dasein’s attitude toward others is different than its attitude toward equipment.  With regard to mitdasein the primary being of Dasein is care.   Dasein is concerned about the world and others in it.  This idea of concern is expressed as solicitude in Being and Time and is associated with a feeling of anxiety.  Dasein is concerned regarding its existential relationship to others, how one is in a variety of ways, and whether any adjustment in relation to those others is required.[36]  To the extent that Dasein mimics the others and accepts and joins in the customs and uses the facilities common to all Dasein, it becomes socialized and assimilated by the ‘they’. This is the being, a pre-ontological template that becomes the norm and obscures the being of the authentic self.[37]

Being as such

Heidegger says that Dasein is itself its own ‘there’; both a place where it has its being and where the events pertaining to it take place.  As interruptions in the projects of Dasein illuminate the world of Dasein causing its equipment ready-at-hand to be disclosed for the furtherance of those projects, Dasein positions those items as ‘there’, or ‘yonder’.  Dasein is its own disclosedness.   In this manner it is self illuminating, creating its own vantage point in the world from which to illuminate and disclose other entities.[38]    Dasein’s way of doing this, its mode of being there is manifested primarily by its moods, that is to say how it reacts emotionally to its environment and the entities it encounters, and its understanding of them while it has become engrossed (fallen to) the tasks it is occupied with.[39]

It is commonly said that “what we do not understand we fear, and what we fear we hate.”  Heidegger contrasts two of these, fear and understanding as basic moods of Dasein’s “thrownness.”   Heidegger dissects fear into three parts, the entity that we fear, the feeling of fear itself, and the reason for the fear, that it to say, what we are afraid will happen.[40]  Dasein fears for itself or for others, but this fear is based in an inability to cope which is seemingly overcome by understanding.    Understanding is not merely the intellectual capacity to grasp facts, but the internalization of meaning and the ability to move through time and space on the basis of it.    In order to do this Dasein must not only disclose the world but disclose the possibilities of being within the world upon which it may project itself.[41]   Understanding becomes an existential for Dasein, a way of being which enables it to recognize beforehand what resources are available to it and how those resources must be applied to accomplish the goals which it has projected upon itself.

Dasein, Disclosedness and Truth

Truth as traditionally understood is described by Heidegger in Being and Time as a statement made about an object, whereby the statement may be said to be in agreement with the reality of that object.[42]  Dasein is a being that discloses the world into which it has been thrown and has the capacity to understand that world.  To the extent that it understands it authentically it can reveal the truth of existence.[43]  But Dasein is also subject to falling; to distraction by the every day activity of the world and the tyranny of a corporate interpretation of reality.

Critique

I have taken upon myself only the task of a brief explication of the first half of Being and Time.  Heidegger’s attempt to describe the phenomenology of the physical world is Herculean in its scope, and he appears to do a very detailed and reasoned job of it, given his particular perspective and worldview.  Looking at some of the books I intending to use writing this paper, I smile realizing that I am just beginning to understand what I have read in Being and Time for them to have been of some use.  I spent every moment I had allotted for this project exclusively reading the main text. I can’t imagine the amount of time it would take to become truly fluent in the works of Martin Heidegger and the other twentieth century existentialists.  While researching this paper, in order to get a better general understanding of the work, I took the time to listen to several podcasts of Dr. Hubert Dreyfus of UC Berkley, who lectured specifically on Being and Time, each podcast corresponding to the section I was reviewing. A whole semester is devoted to the study of this book.  I was impressed with number of occasions that Dr. Dreyfus  stated that he was unsure of what Heidegger was saying on a particular point.  This is a man who has spent the greater part of his life studying Heidegger, you understand.  While speaking to a good friend who has his PhD in Philosophy, he told me that he had heard that to really understand Heidegger, you had to speak German, and not having had the time to learn German, he had not read Heidegger. Considering the limits of translation and my only being able to read Heidegger in English, I must concede that this puts some restraints on my critique. In his book, Deconstruction as Analytic Philosophy, Samuel C. Wheeler advocates clear writing as the standard which should characterize analytic philosophy, but also notes that clarity is a two-way street dependent not only on the writer but on the reader’s training[44]  This must also be recognized as a factor in my understanding of Being and Time. The celebrated educator William (Bill) Wheeler said, “Good writing is clear thinking made visible.”  This is not to say that obscure and convoluted writing is evidence of muddled thinking, but it may cause one to wonder. For example the translators write:

We have already intimated that Dasein has a pre-ontological Being as its ontically constitutive state.[45]

That is to say “It is a fact that we exist before we begin to think about our existence.” Or “A baby does not pause to consider the nature of its being” or most simply “Before I think, I am.” Writing in such an obscure and overly verbose manner is a bad business.   It is most certainly an annoyance to those whose comprehension is time constrained as mine was.  It seems to me that Heidegger is perfectly understandable if you have the time and are willing to put forth the effort, but one should not have to be subjected to this style of writing and translation without good cause.  This brings us to the question of the value and validity of Heidegger’s exploration into the question of being.

Heidegger begins his essay on the necessity, structure and priority of the question of being with the curious statement, or so it seemed to me, that this question was a forgotten one. Unless he was referring only to those who label themselves philosophers, I would view this question as a nearly universal one.  Who am I, what am I, where have I come from, and where am I going?  These are the questions, asked first by youth and again in middle age.  They are explored in story and song throughout the course of mankind.[46]

Paul Tillich has summarized existentialism as “the expression of the anxiety of meaninglessness and of the attempt to take this anxiety into the courage to be as oneself.”[47]  Presenting as it does an interesting (if morbid) set of thought experiments, the culture of despair it promulgates has been widely embraced by the art world, theatre and literature.  Tillich says that the idea that “the essence of man is his existence” is at once “the most despairing and the most courageous sentence in all Existentialist literature.”[48]   Far more courageous than even Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego who when about to be thrown into the blazing furnace told King Nebuchadnezzar,

[T]he God we serve is able to save us from it, and he will rescue us from your hand, O king.  But even if he does not, we want you to know, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up.[49]

They knew that if God did not deliver them, he would resurrect them on the last day. But the modern existentialist has nothing with which to bolster his courage, so if he is able to truly muster the savoir faire at the appropriate moment, he is courageous indeed.  Yet Tillish says that they “courageously reject any solution which would deprive them of their freedom of rejection whatever they want to reject.”[50]   I would go on  to say it also frees them from having to deal with the guilt that inevitably comes from living a life filled with, by our own personal judgments, faux pas and moral error.  It frees them from guilt and from the terror that arises when considering the thought of a final judgment.[51]   They choose instead to take the exact position put forth by Epicurus, who said, “Death, therefore, the most awful of evils, is nothing to us, seeing that, when we are, death is not come, and, when death is come, we are not.”[52]

It is here that I must part company with Heidegger and the rest of the existentialists. I cannot dismiss the sense that there is a duality between my body and soul that will continue to exist after death.  When I look out from my eyes I sense that I am looking out of my body in very much the same manner that I look out of my car window or the window of my house.  I perceive that my body is separate from my mind.  My body has betrayed me in a hundred ways while my mind remains young and intact.  I cannot be that thing I see in the mirror.  It is far too old and ugly now, while inside I remain young, and passionate.   If I lose an arm I am less of a body but no less of a being.  The profoundly handicapped and retarded appear to me to have a dignity that belies their present worldly state, I see clearly the image of God within them, and if I cannot demonstrate this conclusively to those who cannot see it, neither can I deny it.

Based on my years of experience as a man, I think I would be fool to rely on myself as the final judge of what was right and wrong, especially if the essence of my being amounted to non-being as Heidegger would have it. One of the by-products of existentialism is the deconstruction and destruction of all previously held belief. The existentialist relies on no other authority to determine what is good or evil, expedient or counter productive other than himself as the sole arbiter of truth.[53]  As Tillich notes “only God has this prerogative.”[54]

Among Christians who believe the word of God and claim to know Him and to hear His voice, Francis Schaeffer is one of the most respected scholars who have been critical of existentialism.  His book, The God Who Is There outlines a brief history of existentialism.[55]   As Schaeffer describes it, Hegel opens the door to despair by introducing the idea of thesis versus antithesis leading to synthesis, undermining the idea of a straight line of reasoning to conclusion and replacing it instead with dialectical thinking.  Kierkegaard passes through the door and into the abyss of despair by his statement that Abraham’s attempted sacrifice of Isaac was “an act of faith with nothing rational to base it upon or to which to relate it.”[56]

I shall digress for a moment.  The first time I heard this statement regarding Kierkegaard’s “leap of faith” was in the very class for which this paper is being prepared.   I have in my life been born a Catholic, then a pleasure seeker, then an agnostic, then an occultist, and at the end, praise God, a Christian.  In my pursuit of what knowledge may be found in philosophy,[57] I find that, as everywhere, most individuals do not have a clue as to what the Holy Scriptures teach, or what doctrines the major faiths hold regarding them.  This is to be expected and allowed for.  But what is most shocking is that scholars make statements regarding the scripture that give the impression of never having seriously studied the material.   Kierkegaard is reported to have been a Bible scholar from a very religious family but yet apparently did not understand what he what he was reading.  Anyone who has taken the time to read Genesis chapters seventeen through twenty-two, should conclude that God was a friend of Abraham, who had spoken with him for years.  Abraham had witnessed God perform miracles, and knew that God kept His promises.  If any act in the Bible was not based on faith it was Abraham’s preparation to sacrifice Isaac.  In fact, the Lord God had personally commanded him to do this. The most that could be said of it was that Abraham, knowing God as well as he did, had faith that God would spare Isaac.

Abraham took the wood for the burnt offering and placed it on his son Isaac, and he himself carried the fire and the knife. As the two of them went on together, Isaac spoke up and said to his father Abraham,

“Father?” “Yes, my son?” Abraham replied.

“The fire and wood are here,” Isaac said, “but where is the lamb for the burnt offering?”

Abraham answered, “God himself will provide the lamb for the burnt offering, my son.” And the two of them went on together.[58]

As a result of Kierkegaard’s erroneous statements, faith, “being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see”[59] had instead become associated with non-reasoning optimism, and reason with rational pessimism.[60]  This has resulted in all modern philosophy being based on the idea that truth cannot be realized or obtained.  We have gone from being lovers of wisdom, to those who deny its existence.

Schaeffer outlines three schools of existentialism, the Swiss, the French, and the German. The Swiss school led by Karl Jaspers of the University of Basle speaks of experiencing a non-rational “final (existential) experience” unable to be expressed in words.  The French school is represented by Sartre and Camus who represent the universe as absurd where authentication is achieved by independent action.   Heidegger’s German form of existentialism follows where as we have seen each aspect what we may observe about our present reality has been carefully described and categorized, authentication is achieved when one feels a vague feeling of angst.[61]   Having briefly studied existentialism these past fifteen weeks I agree with his description. What of value is being offered here?  It is the opportunity to search for meaning in a void where it will not be found, accompanied by absurdity, nausea, and despair.  The triumph offered by existentialist philosophy is the self-reliance, personal initiative, and pride of a moth about to be consumed in a candle flame.

Schaeffer continues with his omnibus tour of modern philosophy covering logical positivism, the use of drugs by Aldous Huxley and Timothy Leary, and the defining philosophy.  I am sure there are few more varieties have come along since his book was published, but Schaeffer’s point is that classical philosophy was an attempt to seek truth and explain the world in a way that would apply universally to all men.   When it became increasingly obvious that it would not be possible for philosophy to produce a “unified optimistic humanism” philosophers “shifted the concept of truth, and modern man was born.”[62]

A final comment by Schaeffer notes that after “the turn” in his later years Heidegger moved away from his earlier explanation of existentialism. In his pamphlet, What is Philosophy, Heidegger encourages us at the end to “listen to the poet”.[63]   Yet, he does not tell us which poet.  Schaeffer explains:

A part of being is the being, man, who verbalizes.  Consequently, because there are words in the universe, one has the hope of some kind of meaning to Being–i.e., what is.  One just notes that the poet exists and, in his mere existence, the poet becomes the prophet. Because poetry is with us, one hopes that there is more to life than merely what you know rationally and logically to be the case.  Here then is another example of an irrational upstairs without any content.

Plato tells us that it is dangerous enough to listen to the poets, [64] many who know nothing and will say anything.  I myself rejected the idea of an English major because of my affection for the sound of my own voice.  But to encourage one to listen with an indiscriminate ear is advice of dubious value, I should think.

Those who claim to know the truth understand that many others do not agree. As imperfect men in an imperfect world, even those who hear the voice of God are more limited in their understanding than a toddler hearing the voice of her father.  The Spirit of the Lord speaks the truth to men individually, through His Word, and through the council of many others.[65]  Even those who do not hold the truth are still beings created in His image,[66] with unique insights and ideas worth considering and responding to.  However, a dogma of despair, meaninglessness, and angst offered mitigated by the promise of unfettered freedom is a poor bargain indeed when contrasted with the command to bow the knee before a loving God who offers “strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow, blessings all mine, with ten thousand beside!”[67]   Existentialism, along with Heidegger’s Being and Time must fail as a philosophy before a world that fairly shouts the existence of an eternal Creator.[68]   Heidegger makes a fair argument binding Dasein to the earth within a referential totality of which Dasein is an integral part.  But Heidegger makes no argument as to why there may not be referential totalities in other dimensions, other metaphysical planes into which Dasein may one day find itself thrown, with or without the prior knowledge of its existence in the physical world.   Considering the whole of part one of his book, and the explanations and descriptions of being from existentialists in general, I understand it to be a present nothingness oscillating between a knowledge of past facticity and a projection into a future of possible choice.  What I do not find is an explication of how such a being holds those memories and dreams so tightly to itself, or why it is drawn to do and to care and to fear.  These are questions about meaning of being, which at the end of Division one Heidegger freely admits that he has not answered.


[1] Res cogitans and res Extensa.

[2] Heidegger, Martin. Being and Time. Translated by Macquarrie, John & Robinson, Edward. [San Francisco] Harper & Row. 1962, Page 23   (Henceforth referred to as ‘BT’)

[3] BT, page 23

[4] King, Magda. A guide to Heidegger’s Being and Time.New York: SUNY Press. 2001, Page 6

[5] BT, Page 27

[6] BT, Page 28

[7] Gelven, Michael. A Commentary on Heidegger’s Being and Time. DeKalb: Northern IllinoisUniv. Press. 1989

[8] BT, Page 29

[9] BT, page 32

[10] BT, page 34

[11] BT, page 69

[12] BT, page 53

[13] BT, page 63

[14] BT, page 81

[15] BT, page 83 (a position that, almost without exception, the rest of the world embraces fervently.)

[16] BT, page 93

[17] BT, page 54

[18] BT, page 97

[19] BT, page 99

[20] BT, page 103

[21] BT, page 107

[22] Sounds like an episode of “Tool Time”.  It occurs to me that I often make a note of the available exits whenever I enter a structure, or the available items that may be used as weapon when I enter a room.  Paranoid?  Why, yes…

[23] BT page 108

[25] BT, page 121

[26] BT, page 46

[27] Psalm 90:2 Before the mountains were born or you brought forth the earth and the world, from everlasting to everlasting you are God.

[28] Isaiah 66:2 Has not my hand made all these things, and so they came into being ?” declares the Lord.

[29] BT, page 125

[30] Genesis 5:1

[31] BT, page 114

[32] BT, page 150

[33] Morris, Brian. Western Conceptions of the Individual. Berg Publishers [Oxford, UK] 1991. page 384

[34] BT, page 155

[35] BT, page 207 (I can almost hear Greta Garbo saying, “I vant to be in privative mode.” Grand Hotel. [Hollywood, CA] MGM. 1932 )

[36] BT, page 164

[37] BT, page 168

[38] BT, page 171

[39] BT, page 172

[40] BT, page 179

[41] BT, page 188

[42] BT, page 257

[43] BT, page 264

[44] Wheeler, Samuel C. Deconstruction as Analytic Philosophy  [Palo Alto, CA] Stanford  University Press, 2000.  Page 2

[45] BT, page 39

[46] For example:

  • “O Lord, what is man that you care for him, the son of man that you think of him?” King David. Psalms 144:3. approximately 1007 B.C.
  •  “What a piece of work is a man, … and yet,to me, what is this quintessence of dust?” Shakespeare, William, Hamlet Act 2, scene 2, 303–311. approximately 1600 A.D.
  •  “The soul, secured in her existence, smiles At the drawn dagger, and defies its point.” Addison, Joseph. Cato (act V, sc. 1). 1713 A.D.
  •  “I think everyone wants to know where we came from and how the universe began.”  Hawking, Stephen. Interview, Larry King Live Weekend. Stephen Hawking Discusses Quantum Physics and ALS. Aired December 25, 1999, 9:00 p.m. EST

[47] Tillich, Paul. The Courage to Be. [New Haven] YaleUniversity Press, 2000. Page 139

[48] Tillich, page 150

[49] Daniel 3:17-18

[50] Tillich, page 151

[51] Hebrews 9:27 And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment.

[52] Letter to Menoeceus

[53] Judges 17:6 In those days there was no king in Israel, but every man did that which was right in his own eyes.

[54] Tillish, page 152

[55] Schaeffer, Francis. The Complete Works of Francis A. Schaeffer: A Christian View of Philosophy and Culture  (Vol 1). [Westchester, IL.] Good News Publishers. 1982.  Page 14

[56] Schaeffer, Page 15

[57] Colossians 2:8

[58] Genesis 22:6-8

[59] Hebrews 11:1

[60] Schaeffer, Page 16

[61] Schaeffer, Page 19

[62] Schaeffer, page 10

[63] Heidegger, Martin. What Is Philosophy? [New York]: Twayne Publishers, 1958.

[64] Republic 598a

[65] Proverbs 15:22 Without counsel purposes are disappointed: but in the multitude of counselors they are established.

[66] Acts 17:28  For in him we live and move and have our being. As some of your own poets have said, ‘We are his offspring.’

[67] Chisolm, Thomas and Runyan, William. Song: Great is Thy Faithfulness. Hope Publishing. 1923. Verse 3

[68] Romans 1:19-22

About Louis William Rose

“I stand for Liberty. What I do for Liberty I do not do for profit or fame. I seek no office other than the office of parliamentarian, and no reward other than for myself and my fellow men and women to live in a free country.” Louis William Rose is a member of the National Association of Parliamentarians, he lectures on the subject of parliamentary procedure and political process. He serves as parliamentarian for various organizations. A political philosopher, poet, singer, and writer, his articles have been published on-line and in pro-liberty papers in Florida, Kentucky, Georgia, and Montana. He holds a bachelor’s degree in Political Science from the University of North Florida, graduating summa cum laude in 2004. Mr. Rose is an outspoken supporter of the basic rights of man, especially freedom of speech, association, religion, individual rights to personal defense and property, and of republican, constitutional forms of government. Mr. Rose is an outspoken supporter of the basic rights of man, especially freedom of speech, association, religion, individual rights to personal defense and property, and of republican, constitutional forms of government. He is married to the lovely Jamy Sue Rose, an award winning nature photographer and a Florida Master Naturalist and guide. He has two sons, Edward, a local businessman, and Alexander, a successful real estate professional here in Jacksonville.
This entry was posted in Academic Papers, Existentialism and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s