GA 2


Sein und Zeit

Being and Time

When Being and Time was published in 1927, it became a sensation. This study established Heidegger as an important and original thinker. Being and Time is arguably the most important philosophical work of its century. Of the originally projected two parts, each comprising three divisions, only the first two divisions of Part I were published by Heidegger.

In the main work, Heidegger raises anew the perennial question of the meaning of being; that is, the central problem of ontology. The goal of his project is to work out a fundamental ontology. The originality of his approach is expressed in his attempt to ground ontology in an ontic fundament. The fundament is the being of an entity for which, in its being, its own being is an issue for it, and which thereby displays a pre-ontological understanding of being. Heidegger formally indicates the being of this entity as being-there. In Being and Time, Heidegger sets himself two tasks: (1) The development of the existential analysis of being-there that should lay bare time as the horizon for an interpretation of the meaning of being in general (Part I); and (2) the destruction of the history of ontology (Part II).

The starting point of the existential analysis of being-there is the fact that in its being, being-there has an understanding of being. The facticity of being-there shows itself in the equiprimordiality of the existentials that constitute its ontological structure. This also has important consequences for Heidegger’s method. Existentials cannot be deduced from one another; they can only be described phenomenologically as they show themselves; that is, in their facticity.

In the first division of Part I, Preparatory Fundamental Analysis of Being-there, Heidegger describes the basic constitution of being-there as being-in-the-world. Since in phenomenology we have to go from the dark to the light, we must start by describing being-there in its usual everydayness, that is, in its unowned or “inauthentic” existence. Being-there is first and usually not itself, but absorbed by the world and the “they.” The “they” turns out to be the “who” of everyday being-there.

Being-in-the-world is a unitary phenomenon consisting of three elements: (1) The worldhood of the world; (2) the “who” that is in the world; and (3) Being-in. The worldhood of the world expresses itself in the practical structure in which our everyday life takes place. Involvement and significance characterize worldhood. Every entity in the world can be a source of concern and have meaning. The who of being-in-the-world is being-there. Disposedness, understanding, and discourse determine being-there. In the fundamental disposedness of anxiety, being-there understands its essential finitude. Being- there is first and foremost thrownness, and exists in unowned or nonindividualized modes. Heidegger describes the unitary basic structure of being, i.e., its being, as care.

In the second division, Being-there and temporality, Heidegger describes the possibility of the owned or individualized self in its being-a-whole. Being-there’s most unique possibility is disclosed in its anticipating its ultimate possibility: death. The possibility of owned or individualized existence is both expressed and “attested” to by the call of conscience. Being-there remains guilty, because it can never completely master the circumstances into which it is thrown and accept the limitations of its possibilities. All possibilities of being- there spring ultimately from its possibility of death. Being-there unlocks and discloses its factical possibilities in resoluteness, that is, in choosing to be itself.

The original unity of the structure of care lies in temporality. As being-ahead-of-itself, being-there is grounded in the future; as being-already-in having been; and finally as being-among (entities) in the present. Original or primordial time is finite. In the moment of insight, resoluteness anticipates the possibility of its death and repeats the possibility of its birth. Temporality temporalizes possible ways of itself that enable the manifold modes of being-there’s being, and especially the basic possibility of owned and unowned existence. The dynamic of temporality is temporalizing in the unity and equiprimordiality of the ecstases: future, present, and having been. These different ways are grounded in the unitary structure of care. Temporalizing is an inter-joining of the “whereto” of each of the temporal ecstases that Heidegger explains as schematizing. Temporality actualizes its different dimensions through various horizonal schemas. Traditional ontology failed to understand the being of being-there from temporality, and thus made it impossible to disclose the meaning of being from the horizon of time.

Heidegger worked out several versions of the third division, Time and Being, of Part I. Part II exists in the form of lecture notes and works like Kant and the Problem of Metaphysics. Yet, Heidegger was unable to “complete” Being and Time according to the initial plan he had outlined. As the turning opened up a new path of thinking (Denkweg), Heidegger would later reflect on this difficulty in such essays as Letter on Humanism. There, he would point to his difficulty in arriving at a language that could break free from the limitations of metaphysics, which was necessary in order to proceed along the path of the turning and thereby transpose the key terms of inquiry from “being and time” to “time and being.” In his effort to overcome metaphysics, Heidegger would reconsider being-there in terms of its belonging together with being, and, conversely, understand time anew from the history of being.