“Dasein and Temporality” in Division II of Being and Time (1927)


Division II of Being and Time begins with the header entitled “Dasein and Temporality,” announcing “the outcome of the preparatory fundamental analysis of Dasein,” which is oriented towards “the task of a primordial existential interpretation of [Dasein]” (274). What follows, though, is a brief review—or recapitulation—of the sum of Division I, culminating in “[an] understanding of Being which lies in care; that is to say, it must be possible to define the meaning of Being” (273). From here, Heidegger raises the following question: “But is the phenomenon of care one in which the most primordial existential-ontological state of Dasein is disclosed?” The answer to this question is seemingly no—if we can say that care is a state in which Being lies, we are not speaking of Being at its “most primordial existential-ontological state of Dasein” at all.

Essentially, “care” does not disclose Dasein at its most primordial, since care is, as Paul Tillich adopts the term in the 3-volume Systematic Theology, “our ultimate concern.” For Tillich, the primordiality of Dasein lies in “Kairos” (or “event”) and what can be described as a basis for Being in “Reason”—“our ultimate concern,” then, is with Being in “Reason” through “thrown-ness,” and yet, “our ultimate concern” is not with primordiality, or the level at which primordial being is unconcealed as/in/through “Aletheia.” This, of course, falls in line with Heidegger’s assertion that “the Being of Truth is connected primordially with Dasein” (274). So, if unconcealment (i.e. the goddess “truth” in Heidegger’s Parmenides) does not primordially disclose Being through the phenomenon of care, Heidegger is right to question if “the structural manifoldness which lies in [care ever presents] us with the primordial totality of factical Dasein’s Being” (273). The answer is certainly no, as well—“care” (or “our ultimate concern”) is always in terms of Reality, readiness-to-hand, and presence-at-hand with, as Heidegger proposes, “entities with a character other than that of Dasein” (273). This brings Heidegger to a final question: “Has our investigation up to this point ever brought Dasein into view as a whole?”—to which the answer is still indubitably no (273). The phenomenon of care does not “[bring] Dasein into view as a whole”—only the primordial existential-ontological state of Dasein can do so.

In beginning Division 2, Heidegger’s task is to “[bring] Dasein into view as a whole,” especially if, as Heidegger implies, we are not “entitled to the claim that in characterizing Dasein ontologically qua care we have given a primordial Interpretation of this entity” (274). Are we not, however, still “entitled” to something unavoidable in the characterization of Dasein ontologically qua care? Not only is Tillich “ultimate concern” unavoidable, but the same can be said of Rudolf Bultmann’s “myth” (i.e. the goal of demythologizing) —like Heidegger, both acknowledge that the characterization of Dasein only goes so far qua care, if this kind of interpretation is nothing more than an ontological investigation (note: a lower case “I” in both cases).

To be sure, Heidegger is aware that “ontological investigation is a possible kind of interpreting…as the working-out and appropriation of an understanding” (275). Heidegger continues to assert that “every interpretation has its fore-having, its fore-sight, and its fore-conception” (275)—all of which can be certainly viewed as elements of Gadamer’s fore-structure of understanding in Truth and Method. Essentially, “every interpretation” arises out of a hermeneutical situation, as “the totality of [fore-having, fore-sight, and fore-conception as] ‘presuppositions’” (275). With these, what makes such situations hermeneutical—such as with Descartes cogito ergo sum and the opening of Calvin’s Institutes of the Christian Religion as knowledge of God versus knowledge of ourselves—is that “presuppositions” only abridge Dasein in ontological investigation. But, for a hermeneutical situation to consider Dasein’s primordiality—by which, in the more accurate words of Derrida in Of Grammatology, “there is no outside text” (163)—Heidegger argues that “it must first have brought to light existentially the Being of Dasein in its possibilities of authenticity and totality” (276).

After discussing in Part Two’s Chapter 1 the possibility of Dasein’s being-a-whole in terms of Being-towards-Death (i.e. striking a tenor of Angst similar to Kierkegaard’s Sickness Unto Death), Heidegger outlines, in Chapter 2, “an authentic potentiality-for-Being for Dasein, which will be attested in its existentiell possibility by Dasein itself” (312)—this occurs by way of (the call of) conscience as a disclosedness of Dasein’s basic state “constituted by state-of-mind, understanding, falling, and discourse” (314). Chapter 3 takes a “methodological step” from Chapter 2 to “the laying-bare of temporality as a phenomenon” towards approaching temporality as the ontological meaning of care—this brings about a discussion of the hermeneutical situation to interpret the meaning of the Being of care and care’s constitutive elements of existentality, facticity, and fallenness. While, in Chapter 4, Heidegger ties temporality to everydayness by providing a temporal Interpretation the disclosedness of Dasein’s basic state, Chapter 5 ties temporality to historicality, in order to assess Dasein’s historicality. H’s Chapter 6, then, goes further, tying temporality to “within-time-ness,” offering an existential-temporal analytic of Dasein, but only provides the unanswered: “Does time itself manifest itself as the horizon of Being?” (488).

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