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310. Written by: critical (on Scribd.com). MARCH 96 310.th2
THE ONTOLOGICAL AND THE ONTICAL PRIORITY Each field of knowledge falls within the domain of a particular being or group of beings within the domain of the totality of Beings. Our interpretations or life experiences with these beings before positivistic study and even in the present now affect fundamentally the way we study and conceptualize these beings. Since we have long considered the question of Being to be unimportant or a non-question, we have ignored the fact that we are now limited by the interpretations of Being that we started with when our present bodies of knowledge were only developmental. In turn this 'prescientific' understanding of the various beings
within the domain of the totality of beings affects the body of knowledge we develop about the particular beings of the spheres of study. This turns out to be not quite true in relation to the sciences. As we will see later even the fields of physics and mathematics are reshaping their fundamental conceptualizations of the beings of their study. As its body of knowledge grows
and develops a science which is truly dynamic will be capable of re-interpreting the fundamental conceptualization of being which is its object of study -- but not in an experiential conceptualization of Being. The elaboration of the area [of knowledge] in its fundamental structures is in a way already accomplished by prescientific experience and interpretation of the domain of Being to which the area of knowledge is itself confined. The resulting "fundamental concepts" comprise the guidelines for the first concrete disclosure of the area (pp. 50 my emphasis). These "fundamental concepts" also referred to as "basic concepts" are the very important result of what Heidegger calls prescientific experiences and
interpretation of the domain of being to which the areas of knowledge belong. Heidegger's ontological priority of the question of Being is based on the fundamentally generative nature of the Being of beings themselves to all areas of study and fields of knowledge. More accurately, Heidegger asserts that our
interpretation of the beings of our study ultimately comes before "all positive investigation" (pp. 51-52). Heidegger's illustration of the priority of the
phenomena of interpretation, above, quite aptly involves a concrete example of some of the most stable or 'hardest' sciences -- mathematics, physics and biology.
The real "movement" of the sciences takes place in the revision of these basic concepts [of Being], a revision which is more or less radical and lucid with regard to itself. A science's level of development is determined by the extent to which it is capable of a crisis in its basic concepts. In these immanent crises of the sciences the relation of positive questioning to the matter in question becomes unstable.
Today tendencies to place research on new foundations have cropped up on all sides in the various disciplines (pp. 50-51 his emphasis). He then goes on to describe a crisis of foundation which the fields of mathematics, physics and biology have undergone. I discuss only Heidegger's biology example here. The very idea that the nature (or Being) of living beings could be defined as something other than mechanistic or vitalistic became the crisis of biology. Accordingly, Heidegger asserts, the
biologists sought a new interpretation of life that would get "behind" vitalism and mechanism as constitutive frameworks for definitions of life (pp. 51). What occurs in these crises of the fundamentals of science is the replacement of one object with another. It is as if the object of study changes with each new crisis. Perhaps if we were to seek out the root of our conceptualizations of objects we could be more clear on what it is we study. In this way when we overturn one theoretical framework with another we could perhaps add to the root of what we held pre-scientifically and thus have a better picture than before not just a different picture. What the sciences do is either ignore the pre-scientific
interpretation from experience of a being altogether or assume that Being is no longer a question worthy of answer. At the same time these revolutions or crises in the sciences cited by Heidegger show how vital the particular interpretation of the Being of a being of study can be
to the dynamism of the sciences or what he calls the real "movement" of the sciences. Although the sciences do not seek out a foundational experiential
unconcealedness of Being they do illustrate how important the conceptualization of an object can be to the dynamism of a body of knowledge. What is properly considered primary by Heidegger in the foundations of a field of study is the interpretation of the nature of being of the object of study through life experience -- not theory. That which is prior to the conceptual frameworks of theory is the everyday sense of the Being of a being. According to Heidegger an intuition based on our prior knowledge via experiences is far more productive than ordinary logic within the framework of theories (pp. 52). This sort of leaping
ahead of intuition yields a disclosedness of a being in its constitutive Being -- as opposed to merely arriving at a conceptualization or theoretical framework as in the sciences (pp.52). What Heidegger is developing here is a conceptualization of thought that says poeticizing can take you leaps and bounds beyond simple deductive logical thought. The means of achieving this disclosedness is something which is not easily described or explained it merely happens when you properly concern yourself
primarily with the question of being and let go of the theory that constricts the object of study. Heidegger holds up the example of Kant's Pure Reason and the
works of both Plato and Aristotle. These men were all 'leapers' who set the very foundations of the sciences we now hold dear. These men leaped ahead to give us the frameworks upon which we now only 'limp' along within the confines of logic. This ontological intuitive poeticizing is prior to the ontic studies and is in fact their precursor, but it is also a way to achieve the conditions of the ontological questions themselves. The question of Being seeks not only to reach the possibility of
condition of the foundation of sciences, but also it seeks the foundation of the foundation of the sciences -- it properly seeks the ontology of the ontologies. Without seeking out and exploring the various possibilities of modes of Being ontology has no real meaning or structure -- no "guideline" (pp. 52). Thus the
question of Being itself must guide ontology or it will lose its path. The ontological priority of the meaning of Being is to unconceal the ontology of the ontologies. The ontical priority of the question of Being involves Dasein as the being that questions its own Being. As a being Dasein appears quite unique in that it is
concerned with Being at all let alone the question of its very Being. Thus it is constitutive of the Being of Dasein that it questions its own Being. Part of
Dasein's existence involves its ontological nature of Being that questions its own Being as well as seeking the constitutive Being of all other beings (pp. 53). Heidegger describes Dasein as pre-ontological as it has a way of being that is
fundamentally an un-intentionally ontological mode of Being.
Understanding of Being is itself a determination of the Being of Dasein (pp. 54). So here we have an interweaving of the ontic and the ontological priority of the question of Being. Dasein is ontological. The study of Dasein itself elicits an
understanding of the various possibilities of its Being "to be itself or not to be itself (pp. 54)." The understanding that Dasein has of itself through interpreting itself by experiencing itself is what Heidegger calls an existentiell understanding. This term is not to be confused with 'existential' which is a constitutive analysis of structure and possibilities of existence (pp. 54). Dasein is the ontological creature whose existence allows a seeking for the unconcealedness of the ontological existence of the other beings of the world. Dasein itself is the basis on which the ontologies of the other beings are 'founded and motivated'. This is the primacy of Dasein as the motivator of all the This is the ontic
ontologies of the totality of beings that are unlike Dasein.
priority of Dasein. That is, it is only through Dasein's study of other beings that the unconcealedness of those other beings can be realized. Dasein is also in itself ontological because it's being is an 'existentiell' understanding of itself -- this is Dasein's ontological priority. The third priority of Dasein is an ontic-ontological
priority which involves its constitution-of-Being to "understand the Being of the other beings of the world" (pp.55). The ontic priority of the question of Being is to adopt a mode of inquiry of knowledge that is embraced in an existentiell way as a possibility of the existence of each Dasein. Only through this way of approaching the various fields of inquiry will Dasein achieve a clear understanding of ontological questions. And only in this way will Dasein get at the question of Being -- through the disclosedness of the coherence (existentiality) of existence (pp. 56). Therefore, the ontical priority of the question of Being must be dealt with before the ontological priority of the question of Being. Some link or disclosedness with Dasein's preontological
existence must be made to clarify the question to then disclose that which in the origin of Dasein has been forgotten or repressed.
ANXIETY The search for the question of Being as shown above has ultimately been described in a number of priorities. The first priority is an analysis of Dasein. To disclose Dasein with a mind to the question of Being requires a disclosure of the most original interpretation of Being of beings -- Dasein's preontological self. The
means of analyzing Dasein requires careful consideration. To merely place Dasein into a theoretical category of one sort or another without carefully considering the possibilities of its Being could quite likely scare away the very disclosure we seek. The path that Heidegger recommends and indeed undertakes is to carefully allow Dasein to reveal "itself to itself on its own terms" (pp. 59). This path must be undertaken as a means of disclosing Dasein's interpretation of Being of beings through its life experiences. What better way to travel this path than to seek out the attitudes elicited by these life experiences. Only after the disclosedness of the original interpretation of Being of Dasein can we undergo the path of ontological analysis. This analysis of Dasein then is not interpretive but merely discovery oriented first the disclosure then the interpretation of the disclosure will follow. Thus Heidegger describes the goal of this first task as the "horizon for the most original interpretation of Being" (pp. 60). This horizon is merely the discovery of a
range of the original interpretations of Being which must then be in turn analyzed leading to another horizon ultimately culminating in some sort of fundamental horizon. Anxiety is a mood that will help disclose this first horizon, as it will reveal in part our attitude in relation to the totality of beings. More specifically Heidegger sees Anxiety as a means to explore nothingness. Humanity is fundamentally concerned with its relation to the world and its attitude guides the pursuit of this relating to the world. And especially in its scientific pursuits humanity guided by its attitude "irrupts" into the whole of beings. What we must do to take explicit control of the Dasein that is revealed or disclosed by this relationship is to accept certain facts: The relation to the world is always a relation to beings -- and nothing besides. All attitudes are in relation to beings -- and nothing besides. The irruption of
humanity in science is the result of confrontation with beings -- and nothing besides. This repetition of "and nothing besides" is no accident on Heidegger's part. He finds that although we are constantly concerned with beings we always define those beings in relation to the nothing (pp. 95). To Heidegger the question of the nothing is a question we have too long ignored. In the past we have assumed a pat answer to the nothing and seen negation as merely the product of the syntax of language. Heidegger sees a way to access the
nothing through the characteristics of Dasein's trinity of relation to the world, attitude, and irruption. Attitude becomes the key here as it is in Dasein's
attitudinal relation to the world that allows or guides its irruption into the domain of the whole of beings. On this path to the nothing Heidegger recognizes and adds body to his reasons for finding logical thought limited. In the face of the question of the nothing it
appears that there can be no logical way of analyzing it. Nothing is the absence of being the absence of everything. It in fact defies being questioned altogether. To word a question would be to view the nothing as having properties that it clearly does not have. To ask about the nothing, (what is the nothing?) is to view it as a being. Since we cannot grant the nothing the status of being we cannot even
phrase a question about it. In taking recourse to thought as a 'leaping' poetic intuition, instead of a 'limping' logical process, Heidegger believes he can get somewhere with the question of nothing. Heidegger views the difficulty of
phrasing the question of the nothing as a mere 'formal impossibility' -- not beyond the intellect merely beyond the bounds of logical discourse (pp.96-97).
The nothing is the complete negation of the totality of beings (pp.98). This definition which apparently flowed quite readily from Heidegger's pen is a demonstration that a search always has within it an anticipation of what will be
found. We already know the answer to the question of the nothing we just have not unconcealed it yet. A proper place to start the analysis of the nothing is in our experiences of it since we seek the original life experience or interpretation that Heidegger posits as prior to our scientific fields of knowledge. If the nothing is the negation of the whole of beings then we must seek out the whole of beings and thus negate it (pp. 98). Perhaps we could image the whole of beings and thus negate this image but as Heidegger points out we can not understand the whole of beings. Not only is the above an impossible task, we
cannot get outside of the whole of beings to operate its negation. Hence the only alternative is to address the whole of beings as we are in relation to it. We are in the midst of the totality of beings. Our attitude in relation to the world is about as concrete as we can get to an experiential relation to the totality of beings and this is where Heidegger begins to describe our various ways of being to the beings of the world. Not just any way of being will do as we need understand our experiences with the whole of the beings of the world not just in relation to specific beings which we are frequently related to at specific points in time (pp. 99). Feelings are the fundamental, and perhaps among the most original, ways we relate to the world. Feelings are ways of attuning to beings (pp. 100). Heidegger seeks
the nothing in moods which bring Dasein into attunement with beings as a whole. But of course when our attitudes of boredom or joy in the face of beings is evoked the nothing is more concealed not less. We are distracted by the mood and at the same time the mood may carry us far away from ideas of the nothing. What we seek to disclose the nothing must be something more original than these moods something which is as original as we imagine the nothing to be itself. The fundamental mood of anxiety affects our relation with the whole of beings to bring us in the face of the nothing. This anxiety is a "fear in the face of" which does not lead a person to "lose their head" (pp. 100). Perspective is calm but "ill at ease" the whole of beings begins to slip away. This mood is the nothing disclosed. The nothing is not experienced as a negation of the whole of beings it is at one with beings in the slipping away of the whole. This anxiety is what Heidegger
claims is the original separation of beings from the nothing in experience of Dasein. Within the original mood of anxiety is the discovery that beings are beings -- and not nothing. Thus he asserts that the nothing is the source of negation and not the reverse. It is through anxiety that Dasein is able to grasp beings and even itself. This is achieved through the experience of the nothing and the slipping away of beings in the face of nothing. Dasein requires the nothing as a means of a disclosure of
beings of a disclosure of even itself. Heidegger describes this relation Dasein has to the nothing as 'being held out into the nothing'. This phrase is now adopted as a definitive description of Dasein (pp. 103). As it holds itself into the nothing Dasein is 'beyond beings as a whole'. It is the essence of Dasein that it transcends all beings. Dasein does this by holding itself into the nothing. Without holding itself into the nothing Dasein would not have a relation to any beings whatsoever -- even itself. The nothing allows beings to exist in relation to Dasein through allowing Dasein to relate to beings. Without the
original anxiety the unfolding of the nothing with the slipping away of beings would not have been revealed to Dasein. It is to this disclosure of the nothing that Dasein owes its very existence as Dasein (pp. 104). It is through the disclosure of Dasein's most original attitudes that Heidegger draws us nearer to the question of the meaning of being. It is only through the intimate connection between the revelation of the ontological and ontical priority that we can truly understand anxiety. Within the exposition of the ontological and ontical priority Heidegger's new language unfolds as also the relation of Dasein to these priorities unfolds. through in part anxiety that Dasein in itself is explored. And of course it is