The Basic Categories of Life [90-91]

a) Character of the world in caring: meaninglulness

Living, in its verbal meaning, is to be interpreted according to its relational sense as caring: to care for and about something; to live from [on the basis of] something, caring for it. The character of caring does not imply that life is one long woebegone affair. In unrestrained rapture, in indifference, in stagnation — here, as everywhere, “to live” means to care. What we care for and about, what caring adheres to, is equivalent to what is meaningful. Meaningfulness is a categorial determination of the world; the objects of a world, worldly, world - some objects, are lived inasmuch as they embody the character of meaningfulness.

In its broadest relational sense, to live is to care about one’s “daily bread.” This must be understood very generally, as a formal indication. “Privation” (privatio, carentia) is both the relational and the intrinsic basic mode and sense of the Being of life. Where the opposite character asserts itself, where life is full of possessions, e.g., in a so - called Objective life, which is totally lived in the world of Objects and which is, as it were, “self - sufficient,” this basic mode is even more inexorable, because it then eats in and corrodes insidiously. Self - sure Objectivity is insecure flight from facticity, and this Objectivity mistakes itself precisely in believing that this flight increases Objectivity, whereas it is precisely in facticity that Objectivity is most radically appropriated.

The categorial sense of meaningfulness is to be taken: 1) in an appropriately broad way, and 2) as a categorial character of objects (formally: that toward which caring is directed: “something” (object)), a character that is not in any way founded. This last means that we must keep at arm’s length an especially intrusive theory of objectivity as such.

The world and worldly objects are present in the basic mode of life as relational, namely, caring. An act of caring encounters them, meets them as it goes its way. The objects are encountered, and caring is an experience of objects in their respective encounterability. The basic mode of the existence of worldly objects lies in their character as encountered things. And experience is the basic mode of going out toward them, meeting them. Experience is not understood here in the theoretical sense, as empirical perception versus rational thinking or the like. Experience is to be taken as broadly as is caring in its relational sense. The theoretical sense characterizes experience only according to a subsequently established mode of actualizing experience, i.e., insofar as the cognitive character, the search for knowledge as such, is predominant in caring in a definite way.

Every experience is in itself an encounter and indeed an encounter in and for an act of caring. The basic character of the object is therefore always this: it stands, and is met with, on the path of care; it is experienced as meaningful. To interpret what is meant by saying that the world “is there” (i.e., to interpret the character of the actuality of the

Martin Heidegger (GA 61) Phenomenological Interpretations of Aristotle: Introduction to Phenomenological Research