From: Henk van Tuijl <h.vantuijl@xxxxxx>
Date: Tue, 25 May 1999 22:49:54 +0200
Malcolm Riddoch wrote:
> [...] but are you saying that fearful fleeing isn't then an existential
> structure belonging to das Man, the one which we all are together?
This is not what I am saying. What I am saying is that "Man" may be a way
of looking at the world. It is not a nobody in a sociological sense but a
nobody in its way of being in the world (cf. SZ 128).
> I don't think Heidegger's claiming a merely sociological status here for
> in/authenticity. Quite the contrary, he is arguing that these are essential
> structures for all human being, and that his own joyfully defamiliarizing
> angst in the face of death is also not merely a 'world view' but gives a
> privileged properly philosophical access to the temporal structure of life as
Nor do I think so, nor did I say so. I pleaded against the sociological
view, taking Mulhall's remark as a starting point.
> [...] and I still don't see why arguing about the existential structure of
> angst and its being towards death are merely sociological on the one hand cos
> they are just Heidegger the Man's personal point of view, and yet
> philosophical on the other hand cos this particular' Man' was the "thinker
> who becomes aware of Being".
Aha! I finally see your point, I hope. There is indeed some
ambiguity in utterances like "my lectern". It is Heidegger's
lectern and at the same time Heidegger does not refer to
"my lectern" because it is his. "My lectern" is a shifter, like
"my Angst". The same goes for "Man". Heidegger's "Man"
is his way of looking at the world, for example when he is
hammering - and it is probably not the same way as mine
when I am hammering. But as "Man" we have something in
common: we both don't think about death, nor do we think
about Being, etc. Not that Heidegger is sociologically
interested in how other people experience "my lectern",
"my Angst", or "Man". He is describing his way from
"Man" to "my..." - as he is describing "my lectern". Not in
the least interested in autobiographical details but
interested in answering the question concerning what the
conditions are that make it possible to think about Being.
> And I definitely can't see why this should mean that we can't question his
> apparently 'sociological' depiction of the they self and angst [...]
If "Man" were a sociological concept we would compare
Heidegger's "Man" with the findings of sociological research .
If Angst were a psychological concept we would (as some
have done) describe different forms of Angst, anxiousness and
fear and compare these with Heidegger's.
However, if "Man" is a way of looking at the world we may
remain with Heidegger - and try to follow him on his way from
"Man" to "my ...".
> [...] ourselves to questioning...what? Being qua being? Or is it all just
> sociology...a philosophical anthropology like Husserl thought?
No, not Being qua being but, for example, why Angst plays such a
central role for those who go with Heidegger from "Man" to
"my...". This is not necessarily an anthropological question, in
my view: it is about why one way of looking at the world is
supplemented by another by means of "my Angst".
> So das Man is Heidegger's own relation to das Man, and it's a
> preontological understanding of this preontological relation? So das Man is
> here explicitly Heidegger's own personal view, it has no transcendental
> status, it's merely a sociological description of his own life...which is
> what I was arguing anyways as regards the existential status of 'fearful
> fleeing'. So we sort of agree here. But does this mean Heidegger's whole
> description of inauthenticity is just sociology for Mulhall?
Certainly not, unless "my lectern" cannot be a shifter. In that
case it is necessarily a biographical utterance, and nothing
more. But reading Heidegger's thought experiment concerning
"my lectern" I do not understand it as an autobiographical
note but as a reference to something we all have more or less
in common when saying "my lectern". And what we have in
common is a way of looking at the world.
> But tell me, do you get into making the world strange? When you face death
> as an ontological possibility are you swept into an ecstasis of joyful
> angst in an impassioned and radically individuated freedom towards death?
> And when you do this do you need to see the others as a fearfully fleeing
> mass of tranquilized non-individuated individuals?
This is the question that divides us!! I believe it cannot be asked.
Heidegger's description of his way from "Man" to "my..." has in
its details nothing in common with mine. As his description of
"my lectern" has nothing in common with my description of "my
lectern". It is Heidegger describing himself as fearfully fleeing,
as a nobody in his being among others, never thinking about
death in his everyday life. And it is also Heidegger describing
himself as being "swept into an ecstasis of joyful angst".
Descriptions are ontic (cf. SZ, p 63). What should concerns us
is the difference between two ways of looking at the world. Is
there such a difference? And why is "my Angst" so all
> I don't buy the reactionary herd thing over against the radically
> individuated ecstatic philosopher...but it's just a question of emphasis
> for me. People _are_ generally reticent about death, and philosophy _does_
> offer different and uncommon ways of understanding the world. What do you
Heidegger's descriptions are sometimes very colorful but
not too colorful for my taste - for the reasons I have given:
Heidegger sees himself as part of that herd - but tries at the
same time to reach farther. Sometimes it sounds or looks
as if he is overreaching himself. In general I am impressed
by his attempts - and the results.
I agree with you about our reticence about death. And that
this need not be a fearfully fleeing. One of the reasons may
be that talking about "my death" is not very informative. I
don't know anything about my death - and will never know.
My fear of dying may be more informative. Although "my
fear" as such is hardly an interesting subject for anyone
else. Only by broadening the context it may have a function.
In other words, it is the sensible thing to do for "Man" to
leave the description of "my death" to philosophers or
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