Archive for the ‘Martin Heidegger’ Category

Iain Thomson “Death and Demise in Being and Time”

December 17, 2015 Leave a comment

Thomson, Iain 2013. Death and Demise in Being and Time. – Wrathall, Mark A. (ed). The Cambridge Companion to Heidegger’s Being and Time. New York: Cambridge University Press, 260-290.

In a crucial passage in Being and Time (which I shall refer to subsequently as P1), Heidegger distinguishes between three terms we might otherwise tend to use interchangeably, namely, “perishing” (Verenden), “demising” (Ableben), and “dying” (Sterben): „[P1] The ending of that which [merely] lives we have called perishing [Verenden]. Dasein too “has” its physiological death of the kind appropriate to anything that lives . . . but [“has” it] as co-determined by its primordial way of being [namely, “existing” or “standing-out,” Ek-sistere , into temporally structured intelligibility]. Dasein can also end without authentically dying [eigentlich stirbt], although in this latter case it does not, qua Dasein, simply perish. We designate this intermediate phenomenon as demise [Ableben]. Let the term dying [Sterben] designate the way of being in which Dasein is toward its death [Tod]. We must thus say: Dasein never perishes. Demising, however, is something Dasein can do only so long as it dies. (247)“ (264)

Derrida misses the crucial point that, for Heidegger, Dasein can experience its end (indeed, as we will see, this experience is precisely what Heidegger calls “death”). (265)

Heidegger thinks that the converse is also possible; one can experience one’ s own end without yet having demised. As this suggests, after distinguishing perishing from demise, Heidegger then goes on to distinguish demise (the “intermediate phenomenon”) from death. Heidegger insists that we need not demise in order to die, in large part because of his aforementioned conviction that Dasein can experience its own end. Indeed, Heidegger thinks we can experience our intelligible world’s having ended (and that we do so in what he calls “death”), even though, by all appearances, we cannot live through our own demise in order to experience that end from beyond it. (265)

[…] how can Dasein – an entity whose being is constituted by worldly projects that stretch into an unknown future – ever comprehend itself as a whole? What most readers seem to miss, however, is that Heidegger is able to solve this problem only by introducing his existential-ontological conception of death in distinction from demise. […] As he puts it: “In such being-toward-itsend, Dasein exists in a way which is authentically whole, as that entity which it can be when ‘thrown into death.’ Dasein does not have an end at which it is simply stops, but instead [it has an end at which it] exists i nitely[existiert endlich].” (329) (266)

Bereft of all its worldly projects , Dasein can fully grasp itself in its own “finitude” for the first time – and thereby come to understand itself as a “primordial existential projecting” (330), as we will see. (266)

[…] we can die without dmising is that „death“ nor „dying“ (nor even „authentically dying,“ to which we will return) requires us to suffer the terminal world collapse of demise. (267)

„Death is a way to be, which Dasein takes over as soon as it is.“ (245) (267)

To anyone familiar with Kierkegaard’ s brilliant text (as Heidegger was), it is clear that Being and Time’s phenomenology of existential death seeks to secularize the mystical Christian idea that, in order for one to be born truly into the life of the spirit, one must first die to the material
world – so that one can be reborn to the world in a way that will unify the spiritual and material aspects of the self . (267)

For when not just one but all of our life projects break down in what Heidegger calls “anticipation” (Vorlaufen) or “running-out” toward death, we experience ourselves as a kind of bare existential projecting without any existentiell projects to project ourselves into (and so understand ourselves in terms of). We can thereby come to understand ourselves as, at bottom, a “primordial existential projecting” (330), a brute projecting that is more basic than and independent of any of the particular projects that usually give our lives content and meaning. (269)

In fact, Heidegger’s insistence on the “uncanniness” or “not-being-at-home” in the world seems to be his way of secularizing – and so preserving the core phenomenological insight contained in – the Christian idea that we are in but not of the world.) (270)

To grasp what Heidegger thinks the self ultimately boils down to (in this existential version of Husserl’s phenomenological reduction), it is crucial to remember that when my projects all break down or collapse, leaving me without any life project to project myself into, projection itself does not cease. When my being-possible becomes impossible, I still am; my ability-to-be becomes insubstantial, unable to connect to the world, but not inert. My projects collapse, and I no longer have a concrete self I can be, but I still am this inability-to-be. Heidegger calls this paradoxical condition revealed by anticipation “the possibility of an impossibility” or death. In his words: „Death, as possibility [i.e., as something we project ourselves into], gives Dasein nothing to be “actualized,” nothing which Dasein could itself actually be . It is the possibility of the impossibility of every way of comporting oneself toward anything, of every way of existing. (262)“ (271)

Nevertheless, it is by embracing this finitude – giving up our naïve desire for either absolute freedom or a single correct choice of life project and instead accepting that our finite freedom always operates against a background of constraint (in which there is usually more than one “right” answer, rather than none at all) – that we are able to overcome that paralysis of our projects experienced in death. It is thus important that Heidegger sometimes hyphenates “Ent-schlossenheit” (literally “un-closedness”) in order to emphasize that the existential “resoluteness” whereby Dasein freely chooses the existential commitments that dei ne it does not entail deciding on a particular course of action ahead of time and obstinately sticking to one’s guns come what may, but, rather, requires an “openness” whereby one continues to be responsive to the emerging solicitations of, and unpredictable elements in, the particular existential „situation,” the full reality of which only the actual decision itself discloses. (273-274)

By “death,” we have seen, Heidegger means the experience of existential world collapse that occurs when we confront the ineliminable anxiety that stems from the basic lack of i t between Dasein and its world, an anxiety that emerges from the uncanny fact that there is nothing about the structure of the self that can tell us what specii cally to do with our lives. By “dying,” I have suggested, Heidegger means the mere projecting , disclosing , or ek-sisting (“standing-out”) that we lucidly experience when our projects collapse in death. By “authentically dying,” let me now suggest, he means the explicit experience of undergoing such world collapse and thereby coming to understand ourselves as, at bottom, a mere projecting , that is, a projecting into projects, a fundamental existential projecting that survives even the (nonterminal) global collapse of these worldly projects. (274-275)

Heidegger’s phenomenological attestation of death thus begins with an analysis of our everyday understanding of demise . After isolating and “formally indicating” the most significant structural characteristics of the ordinary ontic phenomenon of demise (in which, however, these formal characteristics have quite different meanings), Heidegger then seeks to flesh out these structural characteristics, collectively, in a way that will reveal the heretofore unnoticed ontological phenomenon of “death” that supposedly conditions the phenomenon of ordinary ontic demise. (276)

[…] what we are really afraid of about demise is what he calls death, namely, losing our world and still being here to experience that loss. (280)

For there is an experience in which what we are afraid of about demise – namely, not being, or, more precisely, being our not being – can actually happen to us. […] this strange experience of being in a way in which we are not able to be anything is precisely what Heidegger calls death. (281)


Stephan Käufer “Temporality as the Ontological Sense of Care”

November 26, 2015 Leave a comment

Käufer, Stephan 2013. Temporality as the Ontological Sense of Care. – Wrathall, Mark A. (ed). The Cambridge Companion to Heidegger’s Being and Time. New York: Cambridge University Press, 338-359.

[…] temporality is the transcendental condition of existence, that it unifies the various aspects of existence, and that it constitutes the structure of the self. (339)

[…] the sense, the „upon which“ Heidegger wants to make explicit in paragraph 65 is not the sense of this or that type of entity, but the sense of the understanding of being in general. (341)

[…] the question about the „sense of care“ is about Dasein’s self-understanding. (341)

Inauthentic Dasein identifies itself with a role or profession (college professor), while authentic Dasein identifies itself entirely as being-possible. So authentic existence comprises a thoroughgoing self-identification with being-possible. (342)

Nevertheless, Heidegger does not reject the notion of the self altogether. His point in paragraph 64 is that the self is not a substrate, but that selfhood is already implicit in the care-structure. To understand the self, we must interpret the care structure more carefully: „Fully understood, the care structure includes the phenomenon of selfhood within it.“ (343)

This phenomenon of being your beenness Heidegger calls the originary past. And, finally, resolute being-amidst entities is only possible in making present or „enpresenting“ these entities. This enpresenting is the originary present. With coming-toward, having-been, and enpresenting, Heidegger thus points out three aspects of originary temporality. He calls these the temporal „ecstases“, in order to emphasize their character of „standing beyond“. Together they form the „unitary phenomenon“ of temporality. (345)

[…] Heidegger spells out two consequences of his conception of originary temporality: first, that the future has priority over the past and present; and second that originary temporality is finite. Both of these highlight a more basic claim, that originary temporality is not to be conceived in terms of ordinary notions of time as a flow or sequence of moments. In the ordinary conception, time is infinite, and the future does not have priority. Although Heidegger calls the originary ecstatic unity „temporality“, he is quite explicit that he does not mean time in any straightforward sense. Time as we ordinarily think of it is not originary because it is derivative from, that is, arises out of, orignary temporality. (345)

The transcendental claim is that any comportment toward particular, factical possibilities (compare: empirical synthesis) presupposes the general ability (compare: pure synthesis) to disclose possibilities as possibilities and constitute them within a horizon of possible Mirzugehörigkeit, that is, disclose them as possibly mine. This general ability is originary temporality. (351)

Here is a good way to characterize Heidegger’s transcendental claim in analogy to Kant. For Kant, the empirical synthesis provide us with determinate representations. These are made possible by the pure temporal order in which representations can have their determinacy. For Heidegger, care discloses the world as meaningful, constituted by solicitations and purposes. These are made possible by the temporal ecstases that first constitute you as a discloser in such a way that the possibilities can be yours and the solicitations have a grip on you. (352)

[…] Heidegger analyzes the self as an existential structure that is already implicit in care, that is, a self that consists of ability-to-be and disposedness. (354)

Part of the concept of a self is that it stands in a relation to itself in which it identifies itself as itself. In Kant and in most of the philosophical tradition, this self-relation is cognitive. In fact, Kant claims that there are two types of self-identification. On the one hand, „through inner sense we intuit ourselves only as we are internally affected by out selves, i.e. as far as inner intuition is concerned we cognize our own subject only as appearance but not in accordance with what it is in itself“. On the other hand, „in the synthetic unity of apperceptionm I am conscious of myself not as I appear to myself, nor as I am in myself, but only that I am. This is a thinking, not an intuiting.“ So we know ourselves both as we appear to ourselves in intuition and as the subject of thinking the unifies experience. This doubling of self-consciousness is a special case of the transcendental idealism that underlies Kant’s analysis of cognition in general. (355)

In contrast to Kant and the tradition, Heidegger argues that self-identification is not a cognitive but an existential one: „The self must be able to identify itself as existing. It must be able to understand itself in every concrete instance as the self-same futural-having-been, uniting the resolve to a possibility and the commitment to the past. This displacing-yourself-into-yourself (Sich-in-sich-versetzen), extending into all dimensions of temporality, makes up the real concept, the existential concept of self-identification.“ (355; Heidegger, 395)

The only possibility that is unavoidably yours is this paradoxical one – that you exist as being-possible, as projecting and pressing into possibilities, without being able to safely be any one of the possibilities you disclose. This is death, the „unsurpassable“ and „ownmost“ possibility. In disclosing possibilities, you also understand this „nullity“ that you cannot safely be any of your possibilities. Originary temporality is finite because you come toward yourself against the background of the limit or impossibility of your existence. „The originary and authentic future is the toward-yourself, toward your self, existing as the unsurpassable possibility of nullity.“ (357)

William Blattner “Temporality”

November 13, 2014 Leave a comment

Blattner, William 2005. Temporality. – Dreyfus, Hubert L. and Mark A. Wrathall (eds). A Companion to Heidegger. Malden; Oxford; Victoria: Blackwell Publishing, 311-324.

Being and Timesets out to “pose anew the question concerning the sense of being” (SZ: 1). To answer this question, to say something about what being means, requires us to acknowledge the role of time: time is the “horizon of all understanding of being,” i.e. being makes sense in terms of time. (311)

[…] for Heidegger “time” refers ultimately to something more fundamental than time as ordinarily conceived. It refers to originary temporality. Time is not the abstract “container” that we imagine “clock-time” to be, but a basic structure of Dasein’s being. (311)

Existence is that aspect of Dasein’s being that it always is what it understands itself to be. Dasein understands itself by projecting itself forward into some way of life, or as Heidegger puts it, possibility of being. (312)

Facticity is that aspect of Dasein’s being that it is concrete or determinate. Facticity is Dasein’s distinctive form of factuality. This determinateness discloses itself to Dasein through affectivity, which is the way things matter to Dasein. Everything Dasein encounters, from the most significant and oppressive events of one’s life, to the most trivial and irrelevant, matter to it. (313)

Existence and facticity do not just both happen to characterize Dasein’s being. Rather, they are equally important (“equiprimordial”) and interwoven. In II.2 of Being and TimeHeidegger describes facticity as the ground or basis (Grund) of existence. That is, we project forth into the possibilities we pursue becausethey matter to us as they do. I press ahead into being a father becauseit is fulfilling, into being a teacher becauseit is rewarding. If those possibilities did not matter to me as they do, I wouldn’t pursue them. (313)

Finally, the third element of Dasein’s being (of the “care structure”) and of disclosedness is falling. Before diving into a description of falling, however, we must cut through a significant terminological ambiguity in Being and Time. On the one hand, falling refers to Dasein’s tendency to fall away fromauthenticity and ontothe world of its mundane concerns in fleeing from the anxiety of a confrontation with death. On the other hand, it names Dasein’s essential encounter withand absorption innon-human things in the course of pursuing its possibilities. Equipment, paraphernalia, gear (das Zeug) are available (zuhanden) to Dasein as it goes about its daily business. (313)

“Future” does not here mean a Now, which not yethaving become “actual,” sometime will be, but rather the coming in which Dasein comes toward itself in its ownmost ability-tobe. (SZ: 325) Temporalizing does not mean a “succession” [“Nacheinander”] of the ecstases. The future is not laterthan beenness, and this is not earlierthan the present [Gegenwart]. (SZ: 350) In other words, Dasein’s possibilities are not the sorts of items that can be actualized in the present. I never can have become a musician, even though I am now pressing ahead into being one. I call this claim the Unattainability Thesis (Blattner 1999). (314)

In II.1 Heidegger defines death as the “possibility of the impossibility of existence” and characterizes it as a “way to be Dasein.” Heideggerian death is a way to be Dasein and, therefore, not non-existence per se. The latter, the end or ending of a human life, Heidegger calls “demise” (Ableben), in contrast with death (Tod). For clarity’s sake, I will call Heideggerian death “existential death.” Existential death is the condition in which Dasein is not able to be or exist, in the sense that it cannot understand itself, press ahead into any possibilities of being. Existential death is a peculiar sort of living nullity, death in the midst of life, nothingness. (315)

To tie all this together, Heidegger accords the phenomenon of existential death ontological importance, because it signals something about the very nature of human possibilities. If existential death looms constantly as a threat to who I am, then who I am, my possibilities, can never characterize me in any settled way. If they did, then I could never find myself unableto be them. Hence, my originary future is not the sort of thing that can bepresent, not a property that can positively characterize me in the way in which a determinate height or hair color, or even a determinate social status, can characterize me. It is a future that is not later than, that does not succeed, the present. (315)

Just as the “ahead” in “being-ahead-of-itself” describes a future that can never come to be present, so Heidegger argues that the “already” in “being-already in a world” picks out a past that never was present. Dasein’s originary past is, recall, its attunements, the way things already matter to it. I am always already “thrown” into the world and into my life, because I am always attuned to the way it matters to me. […] My attunements were not at one time present, after which they slipped into the past. Rather, at every moment that an attunement characterizes me, even at its first moment, I am already thrown into it; it is already past. (315)

Time as we encounter it in our everyday experience is not originary. How do we encounter time in our everyday experience? Heidegger distinguishes, in fact, two sorts of everyday time, world-timeand time as ordinarily conceived. Time as we ordinarily conceiveit (der vulgäre Zeitbegriff) is time as the pure container of events. Heidegger may well build the term “conceive” into its name, because he wants to emphasize that when we disengage from our ordinary experience and talk about and contemplate time as such, we typically interpret time as such a pure container, as the continuous medium of natural change. When we are pre-theoretically engaged with time, however, we experience it as world-time. World-time is the sequence of meaningfully articulated,
everyday times: dinner time, bed time, rush hour, the Great Depression, the Cold War Era, the 1960s, and the like. (316)

World-time differs from ordinary time in that the times of world-time are overtly defined in terms of their relation to human interests, whereas ordinary times are conceptualized as independent of human interests. (316)

World-time is world-time, both because it is the time in which worldly events are measured and ordered, and because it belongs to the very structure of the world. The world, in Heidegger’s technical sense, is the concrete social milieu in which the available has its place and in terms of which human beings understand themselves, hence in which human beings lead their lives. (This is the world in the onticexistentiell sense, sense 3, defined on SZ: 65, as elaborated in ¶18.) As Heidegger writes, the world is “that ‘in which’ a factical Dasein ‘lives’” (SZ: 65). (317)

Ordinary time, however, is the pure flow of clock-time, meaningless, empty, and potentially precise. It is, as Heidegger says, a “pure succession” (SZ: 422). The characteristic “datability” and “significance” of world-time are missing. (317)

„There is, in itself, the possibility that humans not be at all. There indeed was a time when humans were not. But strictly speaking, we cannot say: there was a time when humans were not. In every time, humans were and are and will be, because time only temporalizes itself in so far as humans are. There is no time in which humans were not, not because humans are from eternity and to eternity, but rather because time is not eternity, and time only temporalizes itself in each case in every time as human-historical.” (Intro to Metaphysics: 64) (317-318)

Time is not an entity, but rather an ontological structure. For this reason Heidegger rarely says of time that it “is,” except when he is articulating a common or even philosophical misconception. Rather, he uses the verb sich zeitigen, which in ordinary German means “to ripen” or “come to fruition.” (318)

Just as ordinary time is a leveled off version of world-time, so world-time is a leveled off form of originary temporality. Just as immediately above, we have a reduction in complexity or features, a narrowing down of understanding from a full-blooded phenomenon to one that is thinner. In this case, however, the thinning out is not the thinning of a now. Originary temporality, after all, does not consist of nows. Rather, we have a disconnection of the now from the ontological horizon in terms of which it makes sense. (319)

Heidegger calls the ecstasis of the originary present enpresenting (Gegenwärtigen, making-present). The horizon of enpresenting is, Heidegger says, the in-order-to (SZ: 365). The in-order-tois Heidegger’s general term for the involvement relation that binds the available to the human practices in terms of which they make sense and are defined. Contact cement is involved in home repair, because it is in order to bind objects together. The in-order-to constitutes the significance of the available. Various uses of equipment are appropriate or inappropriate only in virtue of the equipment’s defining in-order-to relation. It is, furthermore, only in terms of the web of in-order-to relations that nows themselves can be significant. Significance, the worldliness of the world (die Weltlichkeit der Welt), is constituted by the in-order-to. This in-order-to is made accessible to Dasein in enpresenting. (319)

We can recognize phenomenologically that the now experienced in engaged everyday practice is part of a larger whole, the whole that is the care-structure of Dasein. Heidegger calls the structural unity of care originary temporality. When we considered this above, however, we quickly arrived at the question of why originary temporality should be thought of as a sort of timeat all. Heidegger answers by showing how if we do classify originary temporality as a form of time, we are able to explain aspects of ordinary time that otherwise remain mysterious, such as its continuity. The continuity of natural time is the way in which natural times stretch back to their immediate predecessors and forward to their immediate successors. This continuity or unbrokenness of natural time remains a brute fact about time, unless we can explain it metaphysically. For this reason, metaphysicians have long sought to do so, but always failed. Heidegger’s suggestion is, then, to explain the continuity of natural time as a reduced or leveled off form of the span of world-time. The spannedness of world-time, what is more, is merely a leveled off form of the inherent unity of originary temporality, the way in which the originary future and originary past are intrinsically bound up with one another and with the originary present, which opens up the now for us. In short, originary temporality should be called a form of time, because it is explanatorily fruitful to do so. “Apotiori fit denominatio”: the name derives from the more powerful (SZ: 329). (Heidegger believes, moreover, that he can offer explanations of the irreversibility and infinitude of time as well.) (321)

Therefore, Heidegger aims in one stroke to answer two central questions: why call originary temporality “time,” and why hold that time is dependent upon originary temporality? In both cases, the answer is that the three varieties of time (originary temporality, world-time, ordinary time) form a degenerating series. If we view ordinary time as a thinned out version of world-time, and if we regard world-time as a disconnected abstraction from originary temporality, we gain explanatory leverage on time. We can now see why ordinary time is continuous, infinite, and irreversible, where beforehand these were bald mysteries. Moreover, if we accept this account in terms of degeneration, we have an excellent reason to regard originary temporality as a form of time: it is a fuller and explanatorily more fundamental form of time. (321)

The concept of historicality aims to capture the distinctive way in which Dasein stands in time, distinctive in virtue of its originary temporality. In a nutshell, Dasein is historical, in that it inherits its possibilities from its forebears and inherits them as already mattering. Dasein’s possibilities are handed down to it by way of tradition. Heidegger’s discussion of historicality may be illuminating for its own sake, but it does not spell out originary temporality itself. (321-322)

As we saw in the preceding section, the three modes of being are all fundamentally structured by modes of time and temporality. These varieties of time are bound together by the complex relations of degeneration and dependence we have explored. Ordinary time is a degenerate form of world-time, and world-time a degenerate form of originary temporality. In some sense, we are learning to see time as ordinarily conceived as a superficial and degraded version of originary temporality. We are learning to see what time “really is.” At its conceptual core – which is not a pared down logical scaffolding, but a fuller whole that makes sense of its degenerate faces – time is originary temporality. Because time is at bottom originary temporality, being is at bottom Dasein’s existence. “Of course, only as long as Dasein is…‘is there’ [‘gibt es’] being” (SZ: 212). This is to say that being at large depends on Dasein. It is not to say, however, that entities depend on Dasein: were all humans to pass from the scene, the stars would not blink out of existence. (323)

Stephen Mulhall “Human Mortality”

November 13, 2014 Leave a comment

Mulhall, Stephen 2005. Human Mortality: Heidegger on How to Portray the Impossible Possibility of Dasein. Dreyfus, Hubert L. and Mark A. Wrathall (eds). A Companion to Heidegger. Malden; Oxford; Victoria: Blackwell Publishing, 297-310.

[…] there is a specific state-of-mind through which Dasein discloses itself to itself in a simplified way; and its very simplicity is what allows it to give Dasein access to itself as a structural totality. This is the phenomenon of anxiety (angst, dread), a distinctively objectless state-of-mind; and what it reveals is that the being of Dasein means beingahead-of-itself in being-already-in-(the-world) as being-alongside (entities encountered within-the-world). In short, it tells us that the being of Dasein is care. (297)

[…] for as long as Dasein exists, it can never achieve wholeness; it will always be ahead of itself, essentially related to a possibility, to something that it is not yet. As Heidegger puts it, Dasein’s mode of being is such that something is always left outstanding, or say incomplete; but if Dasein
cannot bring its own existence into view as a whole, then how could it produce an existential analytic of its own kind of being that might bring it into view as a whole? (298)

[…] in being-ahead-of-itself, Dasein does not simply or solely relate to itself as standing out into the future, and hence as incapable of or beyond completion; it also understands itself as relating to – as standing out toward – its own future completion, toward a point at which there will be nothing of itself outstanding. But this endpoint, the point at which Dasein’s span of existence completes itself, is also the point of its own nonexistence, its “no-longer-being-there” – its death. (298)

The most obvious strategy for gaining access to death that Heidegger contemplates is to make use of the already-established fact that Dasein’s being is being-with-Others; for if we cannot directly grasp our own death, can we not experience as intimately and directly as possible the dying and death of other Dasein? (300)

Heidegger in fact thinks that our tendency to think that being-with-Others in their dying and death might allow death to be phenomenologically representable is an expression of a more pervasive tendency on our part to think that one Dasein might represent (go proxy for, substitute or otherwise stand in for) another. To be sure, one Dasein can vote for another Dasein, or take her place with respect to some specific task or object of concern, or even die in another’s place (say by placing oneself in the way of harm that would otherwise be inflicted on another); but no one can take another’s dying away from her. Death is not, is never, theend; it is my end or yours, or hers. Death, in other words, is in every case “mine,” the death of some particular Dasein, the being to whom mineness belongs. Hence, if dying is constitutive of Dasein’s totality or wholeness, it must be conceived as an existential phenomenon of a Dasein which is in each case one’s own. (300-301)

No present-at-hand or ready-to-hand object’s particular relationship to its end can stand in for Dasein’s particular relationship to its end because none manifests the kind of being as such that
belongs to Dasein. (301)

He tells us that, while we can refer to the end of anything living as its perishing, and although Dasein “has” its death, of the kind appropriate to anything that lives, it cannot be said, quaDasein, to perish. Rather, it either dies authentically, or it suffers “demise” (which occurs when Dasein ends “without authentically dying” (SZ: 291) – without, that is, realizing that way of being in which it “is” toward its death, of which more later). (302)

[…] the central negative points Heidegger wishes to make here seem coherent enough, turning as they do upon his unwavering employment of the term “Dasein” as an ontological or existential category, and hence as essentially not synonymous with any biological or zoological category. If “Dasein” is not a synonym for “Homo sapiens,” any more than it is for “soul” or “self-consciousness” or “human being,” then any analysis of Dasein’s relation to its end cannot be fruitfully furthered by taking for granted the ontological presuppositions of the results of the ontic life sciences. (302-303)

Since no Dasein can directly apprehend or encounter its own death, we must shift our analytical focus from death understood as an actuality to death understood as a possibility; only then can we intelligibly talk of death as something toward which any existing Dasein can stand in any kind of substantial, comprehending relationship. In other words, we must reconceive our relation to our death not as something that is realized when we die, but rather as something that we realize (or fail to) in our life. (303)

[…] death is not just the possibility of our own non-existence, of our own absolute impossibility; it is an impossible possibility – or more frankly, an existential impossibility. But if it amounts to a contradiction in terms to think of death as an existential possibility, of however distinctive or even unique a kind, then it would seem that Heidegger must be wrong to think that he can achieve phenomenological access to death by analysing it in existential terms. (304)

Heidegger’s point in calling our relation to our own end our “being-towarddeath” is to present it as an ontological (that is, existential) structure, rather than as one existentiell state (even a pervasive or common one) of the kind that that structure makes possible. In short, we cannot grasp Heidegger’s account of death except against the horizon of his account of the ontological difference – the division between ontic and ontological matters. (304)

[…] although we can’t coherently regard death as an existentiell possibility, neither can we understand our relation to our own end apart from our relation to our existentiell possibilities, and thereby to our being-ahead-of ourselves. More specifically, Heidegger’s suggestion is that we should think of our relation to death as manifest in the relation we establish and maintain (or fail to maintain) to any and every authentic possibility of our being, and hence to our being as such. (305)

Precisely because death can be characterized as Dasein’s ownmost, non-relational and not-to-be outstripped possibility, and hence as an omnipresent, ineluctable, but non-actualizable possibility of its being, which means that it is an ungraspable but undeniable aspect of every moment of its existence, it follows that Dasein can only relate to it in and through our relation to what is graspable in our existence – namely the authentic existentiell possibilities that constitute it from moment to moment. (305)

In other words, just as Heidegger earlier reminded us that death is a phenomenon of life, so he now tells us that death shows up only in and through life, in and through that which it threatens to render impossible – as the possible impossibility of that life. (305)

Or, to put matters the other way around: being-toward-death is essentially a matter of being-toward-life; it is a matter of relating (or failing to relate) to one’s life as utterly, primordially mortal. (305)

A mortal being is one whose existence is contingent (it might not have existed at all, and its present modes of life are no more than the result of past choices), whose non-existence is an omnipresent possibility (so that each of its choices might be its last), a being with a life to lead (its individual choices contributing to, and so contextualized by, the life of which they are a part), and one whose life is its own to lead (so that its choices should be its own rather than those of determinate or indeterminate Others). In short, an authentic confrontation with death reveals Dasein as related to its own being in such a way as to hold open the possibility, and impose the responsibility, of living a life that is authentically individual and authentically whole – a life of integrity, an authentic life. (306)

[…] it is the objectlessness of anxiety that allows Heidegger to claim that its peculiar oppressiveness is generated not by any specific totality of ready-to-hand objects but rather by the possibility of such totalities: we are oppressed by the world as such – or more precisely, by being-in-the-world. Anxiety gives Dasein access to the knowledge that it is thrown into the world – always already delivered over to being ahead of itself, to situations of choice and action which matter to it but which it did not itself fully choose or determine. In other words, anxiety confronts Dasein with the determining yet sheerly contingent fact of its own worldly existence. (307)

Angst is no more a specific mode of Dasein’s thrownness than death is a specific possibility of its projectiveness. It is rather an ineluctable aspect of its thrownness, the omnipresent ground and condition of Dasein’s specific states-of-mind. One might say: whatever Dasein’s particular state-of-mind and project, it is always already anxiously relating to its mortality, whether in resolute anticipation of it or in irresolute, self-alienating flight from it. (308)

If Dasein’s being is inherently being-ahead-of-itself, no meeting of any particular demand in action can eliminate or silence the need to re-encounter that demand (or to choose not to do so) in the next moment of our existence. If we are in this sense essentially incomplete or lacking (Heidegger goes on to call this our being-guilty), then we are also essentially irreducible to what we have hitherto and presently achieved or attained. We are, in other words, inherently self-transcending or transitional, always capable of becoming more or other than we presently are. (309)

Human mortality and finitude is accepted only insofar as one avoids conflating one’s existential potential and one’s existentiell actuality, and instead accepts one’s inevitable failure to coincide with oneself. (309)