PHILOSOPHY 335: INDIVIDUAL & SOCIETY
Being and Time - Notes for discussion
This handout has two functions. First, it has been put together to assist in your comprehension of an
arcane text. Given this goal, it goes beyond a mere list of questions generated to spur your own
thinking. But this goal of thought provocation is another aim of this handout. So interspersed with my explanatory and
clarificatory comments are certain question which are especially relevant to our pertinent theme: the they
[das Man]. The numbers of these questions are highlighted in bold.
All references to page numbers refer to the page numbering as found in the margins of the text.
First Introduction: Sections 1 - 4
- It is difficult to see this in the Stambaugh translation of Being and Time [Sein und Zeit], but
Heidegger makes a clear distinction between being [Sein] and being [Seiendes] in the original German.
(See I told you it was hard to see in English.) The difference is usually manifested in Heidegger's talk of
(1) being (in the most universal sense) and (2) beings. Beings
[Seienden] "have" being, so to speak, but they, themselves, are not the whole of being. You, for example,
are a human being but not being-itself. Thus the distinction Heidegger is drawing is between that which can be a being
and that which cannot (be a being.) See for example, marginal page 6 where
he says, "The being [Sein] of beings [Seienden] "is" not itself a being [Seiendes]" or also
marginal page 9 where he says, "Being [Sein] is always the being [Sein] of a being [Seienden].
- MacQuarrie and Robinson (translators of another English language translation of Being and Time)
treated this distinction by translating Sein as "Being" (with a capital "B") and Seiende
- "Being" is derived from the verb "to be". So the conjugations, "is", "am", and "are", are all ways of
- a priori means necessarily so, prior to an experience thereof.
- The word "retrieve" is a translation of Wiederholen. This word has a twofold sense. In its most common
usage, the word means repetition. One sees this word quite often when learning German, for instance, because of the many
repetitions necessary to learn a language. But it also has the sense of retrieve as well. What Heidegger is doing, which
is characteristic of his style, is to play on the complete meaning of the terms he uses. Thus, when he says on marginal
page 4 "to retrieve the question of being means first of all to work out adequately the formulation of the
question", he means to give vital sense to the question of being, a vital sense which has been
lost in the history of (western) philosophy. Thus it is to repeat the question, but to do so with the vital intent
as was done in the first questioning of being itself. (See number 9)
- See marginal page 5, section 2 where Heidegger distinguishes between "thatness" and "whatness". The distinction is
between the individual thing (as, for example, "that thing over there") versus the kind or species which
it is. "Whatness", the what of something, refers to the thing not as it is that individual but as it is a kind of thing,
its essence. In other words, I can refer to you as you are this or that person, or I can refer to you as an example of the
species homo sapiens. In doing the latter, your personal presence is only accidental; I could have picked any
other student in the class to provide the example. In the former, "you" are that to which I am referring.
What do you think Heidegger means by "the average, vague understanding of being"? (marginal page 6)
Dasein means literally being-there. Da can mean there (or sometimes here, depending on context).
- "Dasein is a being that does not simply occur among other beings. Rather it is ontically distinguised by
the fact that in its being this being is concerned about its being. Thus it is constitutive of the being of Dasein
to have, in its very being, a relation of being to this being. And this in turn means that Dasein understands itself
in its being in some way and with dome explicitness. It is proper to this being that it be disclosed to itself with and
through its being. Understanding of being is itself a determination of being of Dasein. The ontic distinction
of Dasein lies in the fact it it is ontological." [marginal page 12]
- The second sentence has a German idiom [es geht um] for its verb structure. The sense of this
idiom is very hard to translate given Heidegger's penchant for etymologizing. But his point is that Dasein is that being
for whom its being "goes around" with beings, indeed for whom in this concernful going aroung with beings its being is
What starting point has Heidegger chosen for this interrogation? Why has he chosen this as his
starting point? Of what being or entity is Heidegger inquiring?
- Heidegger draws a distinction between ontology and the ontic sciences, see
especially sections 3 & 4. Roughly, ontology is the study of (enquiry into) being in the widest sense whereas
the ontic sciences are the special positive sciences of beings, e.g., mathematics, physics, biology, history, and even
- Heidegger also distinquishes between existentials and categories. Existentials can be said to be the stuctures
of human Dasein's way of being. Categories are the way other beings are "in" the world. The word "category" has a long
and illustrious philosophical history stemming from Aristotle's first book of his logical works, the
Categories. The 10 categories that Aristotle discusses in this book (e.g., subtance, quantity, quality,
relation, location, time, positionality, possession, acting (active sense), being-acted-on (passive sense) are the various
ways in which one uses the verb "to be" in a proposition. In Heidegger speak, one can speak categorially of objects but
never of Dasein.
Second Introduction: Sections 5 & 6
- Heidegger also distinguishes between existential and existentiell ways of understanding. Generally
speaking, existentiell ways of understanding are contingent to the particular whereas an existential understanding
grasps being for any Dasein.
- The issue is not the "what" content of Dasein but rather the "how" of Dasein.
What does it mean to say "Dasein is ontically not only what is near or even nearest--we ourselves
are it, each of us. Nevertheless, or precisely for this reason, it is ontologically what is farthest removed"?
- "wir sind es sogar je selbst": we are it immediately it itself. It should be noted this is a
very interesting way of saying this, given the title of Heidegger's work, Being and Time. "je" is a temporal
particle meaning some particular time. Thus we are Dasein immediately (as) that time itself.
- see marginal 17 where Heidegger says: "time is that from which Dasein tacitly understands and interprets
something like being at all"
What is this "average everydayness" spoken of below?
- NB: "this manner of access and interpretation should show the being [das Seiende] as it is
initially and for the most part--in its average everydayness. Not arbitrary and accidental structures but
essential ones are to be demonstrated in this everydayness, structures that remain determinative in every mode of being of
factual Dasein. [marginal 16, bottom]
- When Heidegger says on marginal 18 that "time has long served as the ...ontic...criterion for naïvely
distinguishing the different regions of being", he is marking a philosophical distinction between individuals
and universals. Universals, like numbers, colors, species, etc., are not "in" time, since these sorts of objects have a
kind of eternality to them. Two, for instance, cannot be said to be born or die and one can't destroy the number two.
But one can destroy two things, or twins can be born and can die. These latter objects are in time, and one can
read off (so to speak) two-ness from our perception of these collections. The distinction is classically drawn as one
between objects of the intellect (universals) and objects of perception (individuals).
What do you think Heidegger means when he says "In its manner of existing at any given time, and
accordingly also with the understanding of beings that belongs to it, Dasein grows into a customary intepretation of itself
and grows up in that interpretion"? What is this interpretation of Dasein [Daseinsauslegung] of which Heidegger
speaks, do you think?
Heidegger says that Dasein has an inclination to be entangled in the world and in a tradition.
What does he mean by entanglement, do you think?
In what sense are you Dasein?
- Was heißt »Sein«?