Sunday, January 29, 2012

In my reading of Inwood’s introduction to Heidegger’s theory on Being and Time, I was particularly struck by this quotation regarding Being and Others: “Dasein alone is incomplete, it has no nature of its own in which to bask, but has to decide how to be. But then virtually everything Dasein does or is cries out for others.” Unlike the Newtonian method of understanding, (i.e. The whole is merely the sum of all its parts), Being cannot be understood by simply examining one thing that is, or even several for that matter. You cannot understand me or my decisions by simply studding my organs, or even my history. All things that are, are distinctly and inseparably caught up in the existence of others physical, theoretical or otherwise.  Therefore, to even scratch the surface of this seemingly bottomless question one must take into account all possibilities and ways of Being. However, while Heidegger attempts to take an ‘objective’ look into Being, I believe it is impossible to separate the human experience from this question because the question itself depends upon human nature to define and bring meaning to it. Simply by being a human and posing this question we are subjecting the answer our own inescapable methods of human reasoning.  People want to find meaning, to understand, to "carve up the world" as Inwood puts it. This is all I have so far.


  1. I think your reference to the Newtonian method of understanding is really effective here. This ties in well with my post about not looking at just a single human being but more at beings in general. You'd never be able to understand how a species like humankind works by looking at a single human being.

  2. I know it's a lame move to respond to an insightful comment with a quote from someone else, but that's not going to stop me. In my class with Dr. Culbertson, we're reading a book called The World is Made of Stories, and in it is a quote by Thich Nhat Hanh: "Just as a flower is made of only non-flower elements, the self is made of only non-self elements." I think you're right about the composite nature of beings, and especially about how this complicates our understanding of the world. I don't think Heidegger ever disputes that we can't escape this, though. He seems to make it part of his exploration, all the while remembering that the nature of the question (& the questioner) is limiting in itself.