• frank
    2.7k
    A Heidegger/Jung/Horney mash-up would picture das Man (Heidegger's They, or what one thinks) as an archetype that joins us to the world on the one hand, and stands in the way of individuation on the other. Worse, the more authenticity a person discovers, the more clearly immersed in das Man other people appear to be. Instead of joining us to the world, it reveals an abyss between the individual and the apparently vacant souls that wander around us.

    So what do you do with das Man? Do you wrestle with it? Hide from it? Use it creatively? Is there some aristocracy that finally graduates from it? And if so, what does that really mean?
  • Baden
    8k


    An individual is a bunch of social forces that have their tendrils around a follicly challenged ape. Das man is us from the root up. There is no individuation out of das man short of insanity. However, there is definitely getting lost in das man, which is dangerous, and there is a positive struggling with das man in the way a rider struggles to break in a horse. Only the rider has no legs and can't ever dismount. Wrestle, use creatively, all good, but there's no true graduation in my view. The romantic myth of the free individual who is above it all is just that, a myth. We're grounded in the other, and a part of us will always think as "they" do.
  • frank
    2.7k
    Interesting view.
  • Joshs
    694
    Keep in mind that for Heidegger Das Man isn't simply being-with, it's a particular way of thinking about Being-with, a way which presupposes that communication is factual, that misunderstanding means inaccuracy, that 'fake news' implies 'true news'. One doesn't have to retreat to a cave to avoid this. In fact, Heidegger would argue that such isolation does not undo Being-with, which is primordial for us whether we are alone or with a group. Simply recognizing the particularity of meaning interpretation in using language gets us past Das Man as generic, factual, objectification.
  • Baden
    8k


    I'd just add from my own experience that even though we won't ever get all the way, it's crucial to try, and that most institutions and systems will do their damndest to offer us stuff that will make us not want to bother. Put it this way, nobody is ever going to get very far along the road to authenticity by being a good employee during the day and blowing off steam in front of the TV/internet at night. More likely an embrace of relative financial poverty and low social status will be necessary. Which is fine because neither are actually necessary for confidence unless we're already too diseased to matter. (Of course, if there's another way, let me know 'cos I'd love to hear it.)
  • Joshs
    694
    "We're grounded in the other, and a part of us will always think as "they" do. "

    But I think the point Heidegger was making is that neither pure autonomous freedom nor social conditioning is what makes us tick. Even when we think that we are just normative products of our culture, the underlying basis of our meaning-making goes beyond behavioral conditioning .
  • Baden
    8k


    I'm not speaking as Heidegger, I'm giving my own take. Das man is interchangeable with a lot of other terms we could use as far as I'm concerned.
  • Janus
    7.5k


    I think the idea of 'das Man' represents the human tendency, when faced with existential choices, to defer to generalized models of 'what one does' in such situations. This is seen as an abnegation of personal responsibility. Not to capitulate in this "inauthentic" way is to open oneself to creative possibility. So. I don't entirely agree with @Baden's take, which seems to suggest that we are exhaustively socially constructed.

    Of course insofar as we are conceptually mediated beings, and are the inheritors of historical paradigmatic conceptual framings which provide the general 'mediums' and horizons within which our acts are made coherent, we cannot escape general enculturation, but that is something else.

    To make the point clearer, an analogy would be that our general enculturation is like an ever-evolving ocean in which we all swim. To follow das Man is to swim only on well beaten paths, when there are endless other possibilities, even though, of course if we are to remain human, we must, even in the extremes of so-called madness, swim in that ocean as there just is no other medium.
  • frank
    2.7k
    To follow das Man is to swim only on well beaten paths, when there are endless other possibilities, even though, of course if we are to remain human, we must, even in the extremes of so-called madness, swim in that ocean as there just is no other medium.Janus

    It's not really a metaphysical issue. It's psychological. It's kind of like this:

    Think of a person who rarely eats what she wants. She eats what one is supposed to eat. In all things, wearing clothing, picking friends, picking lovers, even in private moments cleaning the kitchen sink: it’s always done by a set of rules she imagines are right and praiseworthy. She’s getting something out of this. Horney suggests the exchange is related to coping mechanisms set up in childhood. She’s receiving a sense of belonging, approval, the promise of well-being. Nietzsche and Kierkegaard both picked the image of pawning. She’s pawned herself. She’s given up what she wants to eat, who she really likes, what she wants to wear and the right to paint the stove with gold paint. For all practical purposes, she’s gone. All there is to her is das Man.

    Jung says the importance of das Man was amplified by the disintegration of religion in the West. With uncertainty taking the place of the tidy warm slot in the cosmos the religious human occupied, people turned with greater need to the approval and love of das Man. I would add that as disintegration reached further into family life and gender norms, becoming lost and unconscious in the arms of das Man is almost like a kind of drug.
  • Joshs
    694
    Succumbing to Das Man may be a temptation, but it doesn't work. That is to say,
    evefn when we try our hardest to conform, we are applying norms that we automatically re-interpret. the illusion is that of following the crowd. The reality is that each follower follows in a different way.
    IT has always been an easy temptation to accuse others of conformity, but the real issue is the opposite. The most difficult thing is to discern how others' perspectives differ form our own, often in ways subtle enough that they appear to be moving in lockstep with a group.
    It's no accident that we are less likely to accuse followers of our preferred politics as brainwashed sheeple than we will the supporters of a despised political platform. Das Man is the accusation, but
    its basis is the opposite, our failure to step inside the other's thinking.
  • Janus
    7.5k
    It's not really a metaphysical issue. It's psychological.frank

    OK, but I wasn't suggesting with that analogy that it is a metaphysical issue, rather that it is a phenomenological one. You could also say 'psychological' if you like, but I think 'phenomenological' indicates that we are speaking about something that is more general.

    It's kind of like this:frank

    What you outline there is really no different than what I had said, as far as I can tell, so I have no disagreement with it. The only point I would make is regarding your imputation to Jung of a hypothesis that das Man has become more important since the "disintegration" of religion (did Jung ever speak of das Man?). I would say that religion as it is commonly understood and practiced is a paradigm case of the dominance of das Man. Not so much for the mystics of course! :wink:
  • frank
    2.7k
    The reality is that each follower follows in a different way.Joshs

    Exactly. That's why "archetype" is a good word for it. An archetype is not a single entity which contacts various people. Rather, various people with the same psychic structure produce the same symbols. Janus' mention of the ocean is apt. Through a psychic symbol one contacts something, the most of which is ineffable; beyond reduction, beyond the mind's grasp.

    Das Man is symbol of a psychic force. To pit oneself against it would be to enter self-conflict. Is that true?
  • frank
    2.7k
    OK, but I wasn't suggesting with that analogy that it is a metaphysical issue, rather that it is a phenomenological one. You could also say 'psychological' if you like, but I think 'phenomenological' indicates that we are speaking about something that is more general.Janus

    :up:

    I would say that religion as it is commonly understood and practiced is a paradigm case of the dominance of das ManJanus

    I disagree. The religious follower adheres to God's commands. A humanist adheres to das Man for lack of any objective moral truth (or as a substitute for it). True?
  • Janus
    7.5k
    I disagree. The religious follower adheres to God's commands. A humanist adheres to das Man for lack of any objective moral truth (or as a substitute for it). True?frank

    I'm not sure humanism would necessarily be associated with "lack of any objective moral truth". I wasn't thinking so much of the question of moral principles, in any case, but rather the issue of people following ways of behavior that are laid out for them by institutions, rather than (without necessarily transgressing any accepted moral norms) finding more creative, more original, more "authentic" ways to respond to situations..
  • frank
    2.7k
    Being a religious follower would only be inauthentic if it was done without any understanding or without finding any meaning in it.

    Atheism, on the other hand, offers no anchor for meaning. It leaves the proponent to find that anchor. Das Man doesn't provide one, but it provides sand to bury the head. :)
  • Janus
    7.5k


    How many religious followers have "understanding"? See Kierkegaard's criticism of the Christians of his day. I haven't said that religious faith cannot be authentic. On the other hand, atheism can provide a window onto new meaning...so, who says we need an "anchor"? Das Man provides meaning too, but it is mediocre meaning or the meaning of mediocrity, which certainly may be sand! Or sleep...("I am the Sandman"). It is not really a matter of "either/ or"!
  • frank
    2.7k
    How many religious followers have "understanding"?Janus

    I don't have specific data on that. Quite a few, though.

    so, who says we need an "anchor"?Janus

    I did. I'm surprised you didn't get my memo. But the existentialist forecast was that the disintegration of religion in the west would result in a profound psychic challenge. Were they right?

    Das Man provides meaning too, but it is mediocre meaning or the meaning of mediocrity, which certainly may be sand! Or sleep...("I am the Sandman"). It is not really a matter of "either/ or"!Janus

    One existentialist theme is that an encounter with death can snap a person out of adherence to das Man and set them on a path to authentic expression of the self. I've found that to be true. I was very ill a few years back and my priorities changed a lot. Do you know what I mean? Das Man is embraced by people who apparently think they're going to live forever.
  • Janus
    7.5k
    But the existentialist forecast was that the disintegration of religion in the west would result in a profound psychic challenge. Were they right?frank

    I think the challenge was already there as soon as humans became reflectively self-aware; how to cope with the knowledge of one's own inevitable death? Religious beliefs in afterlife are (in part at least) one one kind of attempt to provide answers to that challenge (by refutation or denial). In a way I think religious notions of afterlife are motivated by human incapacity to accept or even parse the idea of personal mortality.

    One existentialist theme is that an encounter with death can snap a person out of adherence to das Man and set them on a path to authentic expression of the self. I've found that to be true. I was very ill a few years back and my priorities changed a lot. Do you know what I mean? Das Man is embraced by people who apparently think they're going to live forever.frank

    Yes, I think that kind of transformation is very possible. Is it not, though, predominately among religious people that you will find those who think they will live forever?
  • frank
    2.7k
    Is it not, though, predominately among religious people that you will find those who think they will live forever?Janus

    The atheist with sand-covered head is living as if she thinks she'll live forever.
  • fdrake
    2.3k
    There's definitely a romanticism in Heidegger about normativity, there are heroic figures who realise their own destiny by grasping their finitude, and there are those cowards who are lost in small talk and banality. These two caricatures take on a methodological significance for him, through understanding the hero we understand how a human can understand their environment and stand forth from it, through understanding those cowards we can understand the regularity of our lives and how that stops us from reaching greater heights.

    Though, the hero in Heidegger is not an action figure, the hero is anxious. And the coward is not oblivious, they are guilty. It is tempting to read the flow of argument in Being and Time as a transformation from philosophical cowardice to philosophical heroism; the existential structures exemplified by the hero; 'ontological moods' like anxiety, their fundamental authentic Being-toward-death, and their gleeful anticipation of the future; drive Heidegger's account towards an understanding of mortality and time. The existential structures exemplified by the coward are treated as merely existentiell understanding, as concerned with the behaviour and norms of entities; which covers their true nature and thus prevent true understanding or mastery. This covering drives Heidegger to an understanding of the usual function of language and readiness-to-hand. Heroes bring being into language, cowards disperse into it.

    Presenting Heidegger in this way I imagine would be quite unpleasant to him, as archetypes of the collective unconscious are the typifying stories of life; they are what accrue through its living as the history of personality and affectation. They further dramatise this history, as if it is played between fictions rather than people. In that regard, they belong to what is said and thought about people, and do not enjoy questions about how they arise. The collective unconscious is then an image of our folk theory of personality, it is populated by corpuscles of norms which typify into everymen which then display the character of those norms as if those norms were more essential than the people they tell stories about.
  • Janus
    7.5k
    The atheist with sand-covered head is living as if she thinks she'll live forever.frank

    Not thinking about one's (seemingly) inevitable mortality in relation to how one's life is lived is a very different thing than thinking one will live forever, I would say.

    'A free man thinks of nothing less than of death, and his wisdom is a meditation, not on death, but on life.' Spinoza
  • Dan123
    63
    So what do you do with das Man? Do you wrestle with it? Hide from it? Use it creatively? Is there some aristocracy that finally graduates from it? And if so, what does that really mean?frank

    Das Man names the ascription of oneself to the possibilites of the Anyone in the fleeing of anxiety. Through this ascription - this self-understanding and way of self-relating - one finds oneself embedded in the world. Das Man is the inauthentic mode of being attuned, engaged, and opened to a world of significance wherein objects, people, oneself, choices, events, situations, institutions, places, setting, and dynamics are what they are insofar as they are meaningful. As such, Das Man pervades and underpins all of one's actions, choices, deliberations, relations, and ways of making sense as one goes about one's worldly situations, relationships, and encounters.

    We cannot just choose to hide, flee, embrace, wrestle, or graduate from the throws of Das Man: any such attempt will presuppose it. We have always-already embraced Das Man in fleeing from ourselves. The ways in which our daily lives are structured and unfolding, "proximally and for the most part", 'happen' or are in already anxiously projecting ourselves onto the possibilites of Das Man. Think the way we make sense of ourselves in relation to the world of transportation (the relations of ourselves with highways, cars, lines, signs, numbers, odometer's, police cars, work, safety concerns, and passengers as we drive), the structure of the typical work-day (the meaning of 9am, lunch time, hierarchical relations between employee's and manager's, how to speak, what to wear, what clothes are for a man vs a woman at work, the urgency of finishing assignments in the contexts of making money, what money is, a firm handshake, the absence of your co-worker on a busy day). In these contexts, we, each ourselves, have already ascribed to the worlds of the "One", including the ways "One" acts, thinks, operates, makes sense of things, and understands oneself. Das Man is, while not so much impossible to overcome, a mode or way of finding oneself in the contexture of the world that we always-already understand or grasp. We cannot not be in its grip.

    Authenticity is a different way of being attuned, open, or disclosed to the world. And we can talk about that.
  • frank
    2.7k
    Authenticity is a different way of being attuned, open, or disclosed to the world. And we can talk about that.Dan123
    What are your thoughts on that? I enjoyed your post.
  • Dan123
    63
    Authenticity is a different way of being attuned, open, or disclosed to the world. And we can talk about that.
    — Dan123
    What are your thoughts on that? I enjoyed your post.
    frank

    I wish I had the answers but I think my grasp of authenticity is much weaker than that of inauthenticity. Partially because the language of Division Two is highly obscure. With that said, if we take sense-making as such to be the core of Heidegger's early thought, while steering clear of Cartesian and substantiative thinking, then with this in mind, we should get a little clearer on authenticity.

    Recall: in being-open to the world, Dasein has always-already projected upon possibilities. Some interpreters take projected possibilities to be identities that Dasein has already ascribed to or "seized" upon. In these self-understandings, one's relation to the world is constituted. Something like this. Though there much more nuance to the story that I am not too equipped to detail.

    In inauthenticity, Dasein seizes upon possibilites of the "One" or "the-They." These possibilities are in some sense already taken from one's own culture or tradition. Our attuned, 'constellation of the world', as thus grasped, is in terms of 'what one does', 'how one speaks', 'what it means to be this person or that person', etc. For example, forks and knives are for eating, to be handled in the proper ways, for the proper occasion, for these people but not those people, to be placed in this way at this time for this situation, etc. What a fork is[/i), and the being of entities more generally, is meaningful in light of "One". As derivative from this picture, Authenticity is an openness where the possibilities we understand our situation through are not the possibilities of the "One".

    Some interpreters of Heidegger believe this means that Das Man is, necessarily and in principle, constitutive of every which way we, each ourselves, are open qua situated-as-sense-makers, thus making authenticity impossible. Others don't go this far, but say inauthenticity means or entails that we, each ourselves, are first and 'primordially' historically and culturally situated beings, entangled in a tradition from the start. The latter is to say that authenticity is a derivative phenomenon that depends on inauthenticity for its possibility. My sense is that this is closer to what Heidegger is saying. Though this is a huge topic.
  • Joshs
    694
    I'm thinking Das man pertains directly to being-with -others and not also to the being-at-hand or present-at-handness of things, even if those things have to do with human concerns(and most things do).
  • Dan123
    63
    I'm thinking Das man pertains directly to being-with -others and not also to the being-at-hand or present-at-handness of things, even if those things have to do with human concerns(and most things do).Joshs

    Das Man pertains to all of Dasein's encounters and situations. 'What one does', 'who one is', 'how one acts', 'what things are for one', etc. prescribes the ways we encounter the other (even if the other is encountered as 'missing'), ourselves ('I am one who does this'), and things, both present-at-hand and ready-to-hand.
  • frank
    2.7k
    The latter is to say that authenticity is a derivative phenomenon that depends on inauthenticity for its possibility. My sense is that this is closer to what Heidegger is saying.Dan123

    That's cool. I don't think we need Heidegger's insights to inform us that the concept of the self is dependent on its negation. A sense of ownership of the self does appear, though, and it waxes and wanes as if the psyche is wandering a spectrum between complete isolation and becoming lost in the crowd.

    My death is mine in a radical sense; it is the moment at which all my relations to others disappear. Heidegger captures this non-relationality by using the term ‘ownmost’. And it is the idea of death “as that possibility which is one's ownmost” (Being and Time 50: 294) that engages the second transition highlighted above. When I take on board the possibility of my own not-Being, my own being-able-to-Be is brought into proper view. Hence my awareness of my own death as an omnipresent possibility discloses the authentic self (a self that is mine). Moreover, the very same awareness engages the first of the aforementioned transitions too: there is a sense in which the possibility of my not existing encompasses the whole of my existence (Hinman 1978, 201), and my awareness of that possibility illuminates me, qua Dasein, in my totality. — SEP article on Heidegger

    If Heidegger meant to say that contemplating death is the only way a sense of true self emerges, I disagree, but I'm not super interested in arguing with Heidegger. I guess I've been drawing on existentialism in general (with a large dose of Jung) to discuss the issue. :)
  • Joshs
    694


    You wrote: "Das Man pertains to all of Dasein's encounters and situations" . It pertains in the sense that it belongs to a mode that is equiprimordial with Being-in-the-world. But it is of a different kind than ready to hand or present to hand things and isnt encountered directly through those modes of interpretation. That is to say, it is not thematically encountered.

    "All of the structures of being of Da-sein, thus also the phenomenon that answers to
    this question of who, are modes of its being." Thus the answer to the question of the 'who' is a mode of being.

    "By investigating in the direction of the phenomenon which allows us to answer the question of the
    who, we are led to structures of Da-sein which are equiprimordial with
    being-in-the-world: being-with and Mitda-sein. In this kind of being, the
    mode of everyday being a self is grounded whose explication makes visible
    what we might call the " subject" of everydayness, the they .

    "The "description" of the surrounding world nearest to us, for example,
    the work-world of the handworker, showed that together with the useful things found in work, others are "also encountered" for whom the "work" is to be done."
    "In our previous analysis, the scope of what is encountered
    in the world was initially narrowed down to useful things at hand,
    or nature objectively present, thus to beings of a character unlike Da-sein.
    This restriction was not only necessary for the purpose of simplifying
    the explication; but, above all, because the kind of being of the existence
    of the others encountered within the surrounding world is distinct from
    handiness and objective presence."

    "Da-sein understands itself, initially and for the most part, in terms
    of its world, and the Mitda-sein of others is frequently encountered from
    innerworldly things at hand. But when the others become, so to speak,
    thematic in their Da-sein, they are not encountered as objectively present
    thing-persons, but we meet them "at work," that is, primarily in their
    being-in-the-world."

    "Taking care of things is a character of being which
    being-with cannot have as its own, although this kind of being is a being
    toward beings encountered in the world, as is taking care of things. The
    being to which Da-sein is related as being-with does not, however, have
    the kind of being of useful things at hand; it is itself Da-sein. This being
    is not taken care of, but is a matter of concern."

    "The others" does not mean everybody else but me-those from
    whom the I distinguishes itself. They are, rather, those from whom one
    mostly does not distinguish oneself, those among whom one is, too."
  • Dan123
    63


    Let us not forget that, from Heidegger's perspective, to be a human being is to already be entangled in worldly situations. It is our condemnation yet our freedom; it is the enabling condition of our existence that in the same instance constrains us. So, we, each ourselves, approach the world from some perspective that 'clears a space' for our human-world to be as it is, á la we are Being-in-the-world. If we are to speak of 'the Self', let alone a "true self", it must be understood as being within the scope of this dynamic.

    'By the time' we have reached any sense of 'our true self', we have already been determined in so many ways. Our relations to others, the ways we grasp ourselves, the entities we deal with that surround us in meaningful ways, what it means to be this kind of person rather than that kind of person, what things are for, our value frameworks, what counts as normal vs strange, how to speak, when to speak, what gets priority, what things are, our place in it all, etc. are always-already right "there" constituting the ways we are open and attuned to our intelligible worlds.

    For Heidegger (I think), the notion of a 'true self' lying beneath the surface of the world, as if there were really some coward beneath the noble appearance of the soldier's armor, misses the mark. Inauthenticity is one way or mode of being open (in which the possibility space of our worldly situatedness is in terms of das Man), and authenticity is another (in which the possibility space is in terms our openness to death as the possibility of our impossibility). But to be open in one mode is neither to say we are or are not embracing a true self that lurks beneath. We are insofar as we are open. To abstract out a 'true self' from the ways in which I am already situated is to miss the ways in which I am actually already situated. This 'true self' is not some inner, really real self lying beneath. This does not mean there is always more than there appears; we do not completely understand ourselves upon a 'first look' or even deep self-reflection. There is always 'more to the story' that constitutes the ways that we already find ourselves. My thrownness qua 'the totality of myself as open' outstrips the surface of my intelligibility. But this does not mean there is some true self beneath.

    Let's use your example to highlight the point.

    Think of a person who rarely eats what she wants. She eats what one is supposed to eat. In all things, wearing clothing, picking friends, picking lovers, even in private moments cleaning the kitchen sink: it’s always done by a set of rules she imagines are right and praiseworthy. She’s getting something out of this. Horney suggests the exchange is related to coping mechanisms set up in childhood. She’s receiving a sense of belonging, approval, the promise of well-being. Nietzsche and Kierkegaard both picked the image of pawning. She’s pawned herself. She’s given up what she wants to eat, who she really likes, what she wants to wear and the right to paint the stove with gold paint. For all practical purposes, she’s gone. All there is to her is das Man.frank

    Let's say Horney's psycho-analysis is more or less correct here; much of this person's eating habits, activities, etc., are ways of coping with issues related to childhood. But this is not evidence of a split between a 'true self' and a 'fake self'. Her childhood issues and ways of coping with those issues are constitutive of the way she finds herself out in the world, how she understands herself, what she finds meaningful in the ways that she does, etc. To abstract a second self from this person is to prioritize some way in which 'her best' would be if we could 'craft' her. What would this person's true self even be? We would have to rework the way she already finds herself, privileging certain aspects of her world-relatedness over others, and then crafting 'her best' self in a situation in which 'all is aligned'.

    So, authenticity, for Heidegger is not a true self beneath the inauthentic self, but a whole different mode of being-open.

    Just some thoughts!
  • Dan123
    63
    You wrote: "Das Man pertains to all of Dasein's encounters and situations" . It pertains in the sense that it belongs to a mode that is equiprimordial with Being-in-the-world. But it is of a different kind than ready to hand or present to hand things and isnt encountered directly through those modes of interpretation. That is to say, it is not thematically encountered.Joshs

    Sure. Ready-to-hand and present-at-hand are entities-in-the-world. Das Man is that in terms of which the ready-to-hand and present-at-hand, as encountered, are. So Das Man is not encountered at all, it is the constitutive of that wherein any thing entity is *to us*.
  • frank
    2.7k
    So, authenticity, for Heidegger is not a true self beneath the inauthentic self, but a whole different mode of being-open.Dan123

    All well said. Imagine a piano and the person who plays it. Artist and medium are inextricable. Each resides in the foundation of what the other is. I think what you're saying is that we shouldn't think of some other artist in the shadows waiting for her chance to play. We shouldn't think of some battle between the true artist and the vacant, soulless one who won't give up her seat at the piano.

    Rather, the soulless artist is in a kind of sleep. Or trance, maybe. True self, ownmost, individuated, authentic, these are all ways of talking about what happens when the artist becomes a little more aware.
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