• Mr Phil O'Sophy
    1.1k
    When Others are encountered, it is not the case that one's own subject is proximally present-at-hand and that the rest of the subjects, which are likewise occurrence, get discriminated beforehand and then apprehended; nor are they encountered by a primary act of looking at oneself in such a way that the opposite pole of a distinction first gets ascertained. They are encountered from out of the world, in which concernfully circumspective Dasein essentially dwells. Theoretically concocted 'explanations' of the Being-present-at-hand of Others urge themselves upon us all too easily; but over against such explanations we must hold fast to the phenomenal facts of the case which we have pointed out, namely, that Others are encountered environmentally. This elemental worldly kind of encountering, which belongs to Dasein and is closest to it, goes so far that even one's own Dasein becomes something that it can itself proximally 'come across' only when it looks away from 'Experiences' and the 'centre of its actions', or does not yet 'see' them at all. Dasein finds 'itself' proximally in what it does, uses, expects, avoids-- in those things environmentally ready-to-hand with which it is proximally concerned.
    - M. Heidegger, Being & Time, (Oxford: Blackwell Publishing Ltd, 2016) p. 155 §26
    (p. 119 in the German edition)

    If you could help me understand what is going on in this quote I would be interested to hear what you have to say on the matter.

    As far as I can make out, He's discussing what its like to experience other people phenomenologically, and that its not primarily in the way that the scientist might like to explain it, but fundamentally we experience them instantly as other Dasein's and recognise that straight away because our ontological structures have Being-in-the-world and Being-with-Others as a foundational part of our structures. That a priori are world is one shared by other peeps that are situated in a world like us, and have Dasein as a fundamental part of their being....

    what do you think? any contributions to an interpretation?
  • tim wood
    2k
    "...but over against such explanations..."
    First is to understand what his words mean and then how he uses them - basic, and presumably you've done a decent job of it. But the point of the thing seems to be a warning not to suppose the encounter he describes is based on something else, but rather that it, itself, is fundamental. I think this fundamentalism is a key to understanding all of Heidegger. To the ground, always, with his thought, often achieved through destructive readings..
  • fdrake
    1.9k
    The context of the quote is meeting a person.

    When Others are encountered, it is not the case that one's own subject is proximally present-at-hand and that the rest of the subjects, which are likewise occurrence, get discriminated beforehand and then apprehended; nor are they encountered by a primary act of looking at oneself in such a way that the opposite pole of a distinction first gets ascertained.

    'it is not the case that one's own subject is proximally present-at-hand', this relates to the present-at-hand and readiness-to-hand distinction and the critique of Descartes (which if IIRC have been already set up). Let's forget the 'proximally' for now and focus on:

    'it is not the case that one's own subject is present at hand', Heidegger intends that the way that we experience* ourselves when meeting others isn't the same way as we experience, say, coins we're counting or fixing a broken CD player. So not understanding this sentence would mean not understanding what present-at-hand means; then not understanding what it means to say that an encounter is not present-at-hand through that. So, here's a brief bit on present-at-hand outside of the Heidegger jargon.

    The commonality between the coins being counted and the broken CD player is that they require a somewhat detached, self conscious, activity to do - lots of cognitive load, relatively little flow in the experience... More formally, when an entity is encountered as present-at-hand it's encountered as an entity, rather than part of some free flowing engagement with the surroundings. Heidegger thinks others are encountered in some other way than this 'standing out as an entity'. So, 'standing out as a person' - encountering an other - isn't like 'standing out as an entity' - encountering some stuff requiring detached thought or effortful/conceptual deliberation -. The key emphasis here is that present-at-hand stuff 'stands out' from its environment in somewhat of an unnatural way (relative to our usual auto-pilot), as stuff to be conceptualised, deliberated over and so on.

    By way of contrast, encountering other people is an example of a mode of engagement with them which has readiness-to-hand; it's a form of autopilot, chiefly non-deliberative and non-conceptualising attention with little cognitive load. A brief characterisation of this style of engagement is the topic of the rest of the quote.

    So, how do we encounter other people then? That's the rest of the quote.

    They are encountered from out of the world, in which concernfully circumspective Dasein essentially dwells. Theoretically concocted 'explanations' of the Being-present-at-hand of Others urge themselves upon us all too easily; but over against such explanations we must hold fast to the phenomenal facts of the case which we have pointed out, namely, that Others are encountered environmentally.

    The bolded first bit and the underlined second bit are the argumentative thrust of this paragraph. The logic here goes that; 'it's very easy to treat encountering others as an example of encountering something as present-at-hand, but we shouldn't do this, as we encounter them as people in a context and they sorta-kinda make up the context in part'. If you have no intuition for the distinction being drawn here, or the phenomenological insight Heidegger's trying to show us, maybe an example would help.

    Say you're with your family at home, there's a feeling of being at home. If you end up with a family bereavement, their absence is noted and changes how home feels, it feels deficient compared to what it did before... The character of the place changes, the feeling of being at home changes, because the people in the home (partly, mostly even) determine how it feels to be there; at home. Saying that 'people are partly the sense of home' in a 'present at hand' sense would be saying that they're literally part of the house, maybe the walls or ceiling. We'd be treating people closer to just bodies and the home closer to just the house if we insisted upon dealing with them present-at-hand (as entities).

    Now for the rest of the quote:


    This elemental worldly kind of encountering, which belongs to Dasein and is closest to it, goes so far that even one's own Dasein becomes something that it can itself proximally 'come across' only when it looks away from 'Experiences' and the 'centre of its actions', or does not yet 'see' them at all. Dasein finds 'itself' proximally in what it does, uses, expects, avoids-- in those things environmentally ready-to-hand with which it is proximally concerned.

    Let's ignore proximally again. The main thrust of the entire quote is this:

    Dasein finds 'itself' in what it does, uses, expects, avoids-- in those things environmentally ready-to-hand with which it is proximally concerned.

    Which is to say that the general way people are is that we do stuff, we have skills, we inhabit environments like homes and workplaces. Most of the time we're doing all that stuff it's on autopilot, we're absorbed in what we're doing and we don't have to think too much. Moreover, the general way we experience ourselves ('finds 'itself' ') is in this absorbed, low-effort state of action and the non-conceptual, non-deliberative kind of attention that goes with it. This is 'circumspection', which is '(the) elemental worldly kind of encountering' that Heidegger is talking about.

    After all that, what about all the use 'proximally'? This is a weasel word in Being and Time, it means 'essentially, but we don't have to'. So we're 'essentially' people on autopilot, but we don't have to be on auto pilot. We 'essentially' encounter stuff as ready-to-hand, but we don't have to. We 'essentially' interact with people in a non-conceptual, low-effort way, but there are forms of interaction with others that are highly conceptual and highly effortful (say, psychotherapy or giving moral instruction to a child). Read 'proximally' as 'the counterexamples and alternative conceptions these may require are not a part of this paper' and 'the essential features of the topic (for me, Heidegger) are...'

    *Heidegger doesn't like the word experience. But let's forget his usual caveats.
  • Ciceronianus the White
    823
    Well, it's all quite clear, isn't it?

    When we (Being-us), encounter Others, (Being-not-us), we are not proximate to them, i.e. we are not situated close to them. Instead, we encounter them from someplace outside of the world--where Daisen dwells when it's being exceptionally watchful. So, we must not accept any explanation of encountering others dependent on Others being actually present when we encounter them, because in fact we encounter them only as part of our surroundings. This kind of encountering is profoundly of this world, and so is closest to Daisen when it is not being exceptionally watchful, in which case it is outside of the world. This worldly kind of encountering is such that Daisen doesn't comes across our own Daisen, except where Daisen "looks away" from its experiences. It finds itself only in what it does or does not do and expects in things that surround it and are near to it with which it concerns itself.

    Eureka!
  • fdrake
    1.9k


    Is my exegesis still nonsense to you despite the examples and effort to translate out the jargon?
  • Ciceronianus the White
    823
    Is my exegesis still nonsense to you despite the examples and effort to translate out the jargon?fdrake
    Not at all. I can't help but wonder, though, why Heidegger found it necessary to express what I think are the perfectly sensible, and I think unremarkable, insights you relate in such an obscure manner, and by recourse to this kind of jargon. Why not just say, as you do:

    the general way people are is that we do stuff, we have skills, we inhabit environments like homes and workplaces. Most of the time we're doing all that stuff it's on autopilot, we're absorbed in what we're doing and we don't have to think too much. Moreover, the general way we experience ourselves ('finds 'itself' ') is in this absorbed, low-effort state of action and the non-conceptual, non-deliberative kind of attention that goes with itfdrake
  • csalisbury
    1.6k


    But the point is that these perfectly sensible, unremarkable insights that many people would agree with - they're often lost as soon as those same people try to do philosophy. Heidegger is primarily in conversation with philosophers, especially phenomenologists. He's not writing 'How I see things" in a vacuum. The book is a response as much a creation, its part of a conversation.

    How do you explain to someone, locked into a rigid theoretical way of thinking, that they are theory-blind to an important part of what they purport to be studying? A lot of the weird emphases and neologisms and repetitions are a lot less-weird when you consider the invisible conversation partner.

    Isn't that exactly why legal documents seem so weird to the general public? It all seems convoluted and mumbo-jumbo-y until you understand the broader conversation, and history, of which it is a part. You can't just say things as they are, from the gut - you have to state everything very precisely, in a strange language, even at the cost of sounding alien.

    Why is this? (not rhetorical)
  • csalisbury
    1.6k
    Though I do understand the suspicion of shadowy double-talking intellectuals, who seem to be muddying the waters for some dark reason, when it would just be easier to talk as folk do. :wink:
  • Mr Phil O'Sophy
    1.1k
    Thank you all for your replies.

    Especially your exegesis certainly clarified a few things for me.
  • Ciceronianus the White
    823

    The law has it's own jargon, certainly, though it's not as reliant on it as it was. Is it the case, then, that "Daisen", "the Others", "Being-present-at-hand", "proximally", etc. (like "the Nothing") were/are so regularly in use that no explanation was/is required by those H was addressing? I suppose that may be true.
  • fdrake
    1.9k


    I find it kind of sad that you've never picked up familiarity with any of Heidegger despite spending all these years mocking him. Especially since you often make that kind of post in threads that request clarification from people who've put some effort in learning the vocabulary.
  • Ciceronianus the White
    823

    I find it rather sad that you, and it seems others, had to learn such a "vocabulary" in order find that Heidegger was saying no more than what you've explained he was saying.
  • fdrake
    1.9k


    Eh, the exegesis in this kind of thread is just to get people used to the different moving parts. When they start moving together it can make some good philosophy.
  • Baden
    7.5k


    I always thought you disliked Heidegger because he was a Nazi not because he used fancy words (justifiable philosophical reasons for which use are easily accessible through communion with our Lord Google).
  • Hanover
    4.3k
    Isn't that exactly why legal documents seem so weird to the general public? It all seems convoluted and mumbo-jumbo-y until you understand the broader conversation, and history, of which it is a part. You can't just say things as they are, from the gut - you have to state everything very precisely, in a strange language, even at the cost of sounding alien.csalisbury

    The point though is that the statements made were imprecise and purposefully vague, not that they were written in Latin and simply in need of an adept translator.

    For what it's worth, I don't think anyone here would find a Supreme Court opinion, for example, terribly inaccessible. Granted there may be references to unknown law and history, but that confusion could be relieved through research, as opposed to whatever mental gymnastics one must go through to piece together the cited Heidegger quote in deciphering the terminology and tortured sentence structure.
  • waarala
    15


    By way of contrast, encountering other people is an example of a mode of engagement with them which has readiness-to-hand;

    I think that encountering other people is not (or should not be?) mode of "readiness-to-hand". Other people are not equipment. Sorge (care, human will) is modified to Fürsorge (for-concern, consideration, solicitude) as regards Mitsein or other e x i s t e n c e s (persons). Here is by the way an indication to something that could be called Heidegger's "humanism" (at least in 1927).

    You are of course yourself referring to this distinction:
    'it's very easy to treat encountering others as an example of encountering something as present-at-hand, but we shouldn't do this, as we encounter them as people in a context and they sorta-kinda make up the context in part'
  • waarala
    15


    what do you think? any contributions to an interpretation?

    It seems that H. thinks that there is already a some kind of natural, organic understanding in the world as regards what everything is or who everybody is. At least in one's surroundings or environment, in one's own Dasein/existence. Any theoretical explanations brought here from outside represents something alien which only confuses this natural functioning of everything. This world at its natural state somehow generates from itself a true view of things. Any universal theoretical generalizations are seen from outside and remain alien and superficial because they are not genuine expressions of some particular situation generated from within that situation. At the end people understand themselves through these generalizations (present-at-hand ontology) and can't see what is actually happening here and now in this particular (historical) context. They get the sense of their being from some theoretical construction which is applicable everywhere and everytime.

    I think that what is targeted here in this passage from B&T is psychology (as a science) or any general theory of human nature.
  • Baden
    7.5k
    ...as opposed to whatever mental gymnastics one must go through to piece together the cited Heidegger quote in deciphering the terminology and tortured sentence structure.Hanover

    Heidegger pursued a novel approach at describing the concepts he was dealing with largely because he thought contemporary philosophical terminology was polluted by the wrong-headed approach of which it was a part. So, the use of new terminology is integral to his overall project and justified in context i.e. it's not a deliberate attempt at obfuscation (which is more of a French thing imo). As for the supposed tortuous sentence structure, you're reading a translation rather than the original, which may have been clearer. As well as that, the sentence structure is not all that tortuous. In fact it's fairly straightforward academic fare. It's likely it's the complicated noun-phrases such as "Theoretically concocted 'explanations' of the Being-present-at-hand of Others" that are you putting you off. Which goes back again to vocabulary. So, learn the vocab and problem solved. Except... you don't like Heidegger because he was a Nazi. Which is understandable.
  • Josh Alfred
    98
    I think the most important part of this quote, the most significant to me, is "{The self that one} does not yet 'see' "

    If we are to live an examined life, we must be able to admit that there are things about our own selves that are not yet known, not yet seen. This keeps us open with an inquiring mind. It inspires us to ask, "Maybe there is more to me than what I already know about myself?" I think personal realizations of one's character, behavior, impulses, and the like, can be known through the examined life.

    Now that we know this about ourselves, we can look at the Other, and see for ourselves that we will never have a complete objective view of the Other is in their being. What we see is only a piece of being, how it is to us, "Environmentally."
  • fdrake
    1.9k
    I think that encountering other people is not (or should not be?) mode of "readiness-to-hand". Other people are not equipment. Sorge (care, Human will) is modified to Fürsorge (for-concern, consideration, solicitude) as regards Mitsein or other e x i s t e n c e s (persons). Here is by the way an indication to something that could be called Heidegger's "humanism" (at least in 1927).waarala

    Yes. A more precise answer would have involved mitsein. However this is one layer of Heidegger's account underneath present at hand and readiness to hand. I didn't think it would do any harm to make the fudge I did, just like you're glossing over that 'others' doesn't actually mean 'persons' it's Heidegger's 'das-man/the they' construct. I hoped that someone more experienced with Heidegger would have noticed that I was trying to reference 'being-in' and 'begin-with' with the family-home-persons bit, ah well.

    Really though, the whole point of formal indication is to be able to revise conceptions to make them more accurate while staying on topic. Heidegger exegesis for people who are learning the vocabulary that doesn't use such approximations is completely baffling, it contributes to people seeing him as such an obscure and irrelevant thinker.
  • Ciceronianus the White
    823

    Heidegger is loathsome because he was a Nazi, of course, and I think him despicable on that basis. But the use of the language in question to make points which (at least in this case according to fdrake's translation) can easily be made clearly and simply doesn't strike me as something that would do anyone credit. You may be right about problems with translation. As for the use of this "vocabulary" being necessary in philosophical works, referring again only to fdrake's translation of the quote in this thread, similar statements were being made by such as Peirce, James and Dewey, and probably others, long before Hitler was only a gleam in Heidegger's adoring eyes.

    I think it's interesting, though, that the speeches Heidegger wrote in praise of National Socialism and Hitler were not in the least unclear. Neither, for that matter, was his "Question Concerning Technology."
  • Mr Phil O'Sophy
    1.1k

    You read his speeches in praise of national socialism and hitler?
  • Ciceronianus the White
    823

    Yes. If you're interested, you can find his Freiburg rectoral address his speech to the Heidelberg Student Association on the Internet.
  • Mr Phil O'Sophy
    1.1k
    I've still not had the opportunity to check it out. But its probably something I should get around to reading.

    Just gonna finish my dissertation and then I'll dip my toes in his more racist stuff.
  • csalisbury
    1.6k
    similar statements were being made by such as Peirce, James and DeweyCiceronianus the White

    With Heidegger it's one thing, but you'd think the pragmatists would have more sense than to remark upon unremarkable things.

    Remarkable that not one, but three of these guys remarked on the unremarkable and that this has been so remarked upon that a 21st century lawyer is not only aware of their remarks but chooses to remark on them himself.
  • John Doe
    242
    So.......isn't it possible that Heidegger was not entirely clear about the nature of his own insights, he only came to them by way of a certain sort of peculiar language that he came up with in his head, that these insights now seem more obvious and banal to us because we're standing at a moment in intellectual history in which Heidegger's thought has already given rise to an entire century of philosophical exploration, where many of the world's greatest minds have collectively spent untold thousands of hours contemplating, explicating, and expanding on Heidegger's insights, and that consequently a great deal of what you can get out of reading other strands within the history of philosophy (such as American pragmatism) benefit enormously from the fact that we are living in an intellectual environment that has incorporated Heidegger's insights in a variety of ways? And is it really so hard to acknowledge this fact without getting bogged down in the almost totally undisputed fact that the man was an absolute monster.

    Just gonna finish my dissertation and then I'll dip my toes in his more racist stuff.Mr Phil O'Sophy

    You're writing a dissertation on Heidegger? Cool. What's your angle? Anything worth sharing? (I'm assuming you mean dissertation in the British sense of an honours thesis?)
  • fdrake
    1.9k
    So.......isn't it possible that Heidegger was not entirely clear about the nature of his own insights, he only came to them by way of a certain sort of peculiar language that he came up with in his head, that these insights now seem more obvious and banal to us because we're standing at a moment in intellectual history in which Heidegger's thought has already given rise to an entire century of philosophical exploration, where many of the world's greatest minds have collectively spent untold thousands of hours contemplating, explicating, and expanding on Heidegger's insights, and that consequently a great deal of what you can get out of reading other strands within the history of philosophy (such as American pragmatism) benefit enormously from the fact that we are living in an intellectual environment that has incorporated Heidegger's insights in a variety of ways? And is it really so hard to acknowledge this fact without getting bogged down in the almost totally undisputed fact that the man was an absolute monster.John Doe

    I'd love some consistency though. I'd prefer it if we just threw out all contemporary analytic philosophy and some branches of mathematics for being indebted to Frege, as well as all continental philosophy, obviously.
  • John Doe
    242
    Consistency from whom exactly?

    Fruit of the poisonous tree ad hominem is one of philosophy's worst practices.
  • fdrake
    1.9k


    I'm being sarcastic. Consistency from philosophers who think that material is necessarily tarnished by being written by a Nazi (sympathiser). Frege was a Nazi too. Of course, I'd prefer that automatic gainsaying to any subfield of philosophy be treated as the horseshit it is, but nevertheless that there are interesting questions about the relationship of philosophers' Naziism and their other writing.
  • John Doe
    242
    I'm being sarcastic.fdrake

    Got that much! :lol:

    Consistency from philosophers who think that material is necessarily tarnished by being written by a Nazi (sympathiser). Frege was a Nazi too.fdrake

    This is why I asked the question. In my experience there are not a whole hell of a lot of Frege fans who aim to crush Heidegger on his fascism/psychopathy. Generally in my experience analytics tend to crush him on his language: accusations of obscurantism, pretentiousness, and emptiness. The cottage industry of crushing all of Heidegger and his disciples, just in my experience, comes from folks in literary and political theory.

    Frege was a Nazi too [...] but nevertheless that there are interesting questions about the relationship of philosophers' Naziism and their other writing.fdrake

    Well, Frege wasn't exactly a Nazi but a proto-fascist, right? It's an interesting distinction. There's this weird tendency, for example, to lump Nietzsche in with Heidegger and Schmit, ignoring the fact that Nietzsche was not an actual fascist. And even if you want to make the case that his thought gave rise to fascism or influenced it tremendously, you have to worry about the fact that the Nazis made equal use of Kant. So, you know, why don't people worry about Kant being a 'Nazi' the way they do with Nietzsche? These sorts of oversights raise some serious doubts about how sincere people are being when they furrow their brows about certain intellectuals tainted by fascism but not others.
  • Ciceronianus the White
    823

    I think that something remarkable once said, and even well said, by some generally becomes unremarkable when said by others years later, especially when said in a manner requiring explanation.
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