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§20. Temporality [392-393]

at all legitimate—are possible only because the Dasein, as existent, is itself an intrinsically understanding entity.

We shall now attempt to clarify the structure of the understanding that is constitutive of existence. To understand means, more precisely, to project oneself upon a possibility, in this projection to keep oneself at all times in a possibility. A can-be. a possibility as possibility, is there only in projection, in projecting oneself upon that can-be. If in contrast I merely reflect on some empty possibility into which I could enter and, as it were, just gab about it, then this possibility is not there, precisely as possibility; instead for me it is, we might say. actual. The character of possibility becomes manifest and is manifest only in projection, so long as the possibility is held fast in the projection. The phenomenon of projection contains two things. First, that upon which the Dasein projects itself is a can-be of its own self. The can-be is unveiled primarily in and through the projection, but in such a way that the possibility upon which the Dasein projects itself is not itself apprehended objectively. Secondly. this projection upon something is always a projecting of.... If the Dasein projects itself upon a possibility, it is projecting itself in the sense that it is unveiling itself as this can-be, in this specific being. If the Dasein projects itself upon a possibility and understands itself in that possibility. this understanding, this becoming manifest of the self, is not a self-contemplation in the sense that the ego would become the object of some cognition or other; rather, the projection is the way in which I am the possibility; it is the way in which I exist freely. The essential core of understanding as projection is the Dasein's understanding itself existentielly in it.* Since projection unveils without making what is unveiled as such into an object of contemplation, there is present in all understanding an insight of the Dasein into itself. However, this insight is not a free-floating knowledge about itself. The knowledge of insight has genuine truth-character, adequately unveiling the existence of the Dasein which is supposed to be unveiled by it. only if it has the primary character of self-understanding. Understanding as the Dasein's self-projection is the Dasein's fundamental mode of happening. As we may also say. it is the authentic meaning of It is by understanding that the Dasein's happening is characterized—its historicality. Understanding is not a mode of cognition but the


* The term "existenziell"—the standard translation in Being and Time for existenziell—is defined by Heidegger In the following way: "Dasein always understands itself in terms of its existence—in terms of a possibility of itself: to be itself or not itself. Dasein has either chosen these possibilities itself, or got itself into them, or grown up in them already. Only the particular Dasein decides its existence, whether it does so by taking hold or by neglecting. The question of existence never gets straightened out except through existing itself. The understanding of oneself which leads along this way we call 'existentiell.'" Trans. Macquarrie and Robinson, Being and Time, "The Ontical Priority of the Question of Being," p. 33 (Sein und Zeit, p. 12). In short, the existentiell is what happens or is given in and by existing. It is to the existential as the ontical is to the ontological.


Basic Problems of Phenomenology (GA 24) by Martin Heidegger