Tag Archives: Dasein

Heidegger’s Sein und Zeit: Defining Dasein

24 Jun

There are further and more involved discussions about dasein that I want to discuss in full form. But now, I want to define the not widely known term dasein used by Martin Heidegger in his book Sein und Zeit (Being and Time). Before I even want to get into arguments about dasein and other things about it, I want to document a general yet full definition of the philosophical term. Dasein has certain characteristics that make it what it is and it allows Heidegger to come to a few points in Being and Time (Sein und Zeit).

First, dasein translates from German literally to ‘being there’. It is the word that is assigned to the being of humans. Heidegger focused on just the beings of humans in this particular terminology. He allotted certain characteristics to dasein allowing him to come to a certain conclusion. First, dasein is defined as being in the world. Being is the big topic of dasein. The being of people on this world is what is characterized to dasein. If a being is being in the world, Heidegger defines it as “water in a glass” just like a human is existent in the world. We live here and are also being in ourselves because of who we are. Heidegger states that this being in ourselves conflicts with being in the world because we are being in two different things. Dasein does not refer to a certain human or even a large group of humans but it refers to the existential possibility of a human/humans with certain qualities.

A few different things characterize this possible existent of dasein. One thing, is that Heidegger refers to Kant when he says that dasein always has an a priori knowledge. A priori knowledge is defined by Kant and others to be knowledge that is prior to worldly experience. Like if we have not experienced the world around us. If we are just floating around in nonexistent space, and we are the only existent thing, a priori knowledge is the knowledge we would have at this stage. If we have not been in this world or experienced really anything, Heidegger and Kant still feel that we would still have a general amount of knowledge about their being and the existence/non existence of the space around them. Heidegger states that dasein and its possible beings that mirror it have a priori knowledge. I say this because it will be important to know in arguments I bring to the table from Heidegger and dasein. I do not plan to argue whether or not beings have a priori right now.

Heidegger also defines the existents of dasein to reflect certain modes. Two modes Heidegger says that dasein reflects is everydayness and averageness. This is often put together and described as average everydayness. Heidegger blurs the difference between beings of dasein with this average everydayness. Starting with averageness, Heidegger means that dasein and the beings within it are not particular or specific to any one characteristic. All of them generally conform to a certain commonality. There are some beings within dasein that may be specific or particular, but averaging all of those yields a general commonality. Everydayness is characterized by Heidegger as the beings of dasein being generally similar per amount of time. Dasein’s beings become general enough that a lot of the same characteristics of each being make an everydayness in dasein. Average everydayness put together successfully blurs the distinction between individual beings of dasein because of how similar Heidegger says them to be.

So why did Heidegger characterize the being of humans (dasein) to be so similar and regular to every other human being. Heidegger characterized this of dasein because it was his philosophy that one human being conforming to the rest of beings just like him or her leads to the idea that the world is a large, regular, and representing of human beings as a large whole. If this is true, Heidegger states that dasein beings are lost, alone, and on their own in the world and on the actions they perform.

When I use the word regular, I mean regularity in the actions and characteristics of human beings. If dasein is so regular like Heidegger says, perception of individual human beings is lost because of how dasein is replaced to represent the being as a whole. The distinction between humans is easily lost with average everydayness of dasein. Heidegger uses this conception of average everydayness to show how we cannot distinguish human beings from each other because of how they do the same things basically.

Heidegger characterizes human being in dasein in such a way because he wants to make the reader of Sein und Zeit understand that each individual human is cast out into a chaotic, difficult and confusing world without help of supreme deities. The large and loaded definition of dasein is characterized by Heidegger because he wants to create the image of a world where no one really has a chance to become an individual and persevere over the chaos and difficulties of the world.

If you think that I have misconstrued the definition of dasein, please tell me in the comments below. If I didn’t define dasein right, please correct me as much as you can in the comments. If you know that there is something to be added to this definition , also tell me in the comments.

I am defining dasein in this post because I want to fully understand dasein with my efforts and maybe the efforts of even yourself. I want to have this definition of this loaded word fully understood before venturing into other arguments in the Sein und Zeit of Heidegger.

Thanks for your support. and do not forget to comment.