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Phenomenology and the Formulation of the Question

That is, we alone have the ability to make sense of things, and we do so by connecting a possibility of ourselves (a need, interest, or purpose) with a possibility of something we encounter. We take whatever we meet as related to our everyday concerns and goals. When things are discovered in such a relation with human beings within a given context or world, they make sense. And world is what brings that about.68


THE WORLD AS A REALM OF MEANINGFULNESS
possibilities
of things
HUMAN CONCERNS AND POSSIBILITIES ➙ MEANINGFULNESS
possibilities
of things

Heidegger says, “As existing, the human being is its world.”69 That is, the world is ourselves writ large as a matrix of intelligibility. It is our thrown-openness structured as a set of meaning-giving relations. The world consists of lines of referral to our concerns and possibilities (represented by the arrows above) that in turn establish the meaningfulness of things. We are a hermeneutical field of force, like a magnet that draws things together into unities of sense insofar as these things are connected with a possibility of ourselves as the final point of reference.70 Anything outside the scope of our embodied hermeneutical ken does not make sense.

# # #

“The world,” as Heidegger understands the term, is the prior “open space” or “clearing” that we need in order to understand X as Y or use something in



68. See Heidegger’s summary of his world-analysis: SZ 297.15–26 = 343.32–344.9.
69. SZ 364.34–35 = 416.8: “Dieses [= das Dasein] ist existierend seine Welt.” GA 9: 154.18–19 = 120.24–25: “Welt ist in all dem die Bezeichnung für das menschliche Dasein im Kern seines Wesens.” Also SZ 64.9–20 = 92.32; 365.38 = 417.11; 380.28–30 = 432.17–18. GA 24: 237.8–10 = 166.33–35.
70. GA 9: 279.1–4 = 213.10–12: “zusammenbringen auf Eines . . . Wohin? In das Unverborgene der Anwesung.”


Thomas Sheehan - Making Sense of Heidegger