About You

The second intuition animating Heidegger’s philosophy derives from the influence of Edmund Husserl, a philosopher largely uninterested in questions of philosophical history. Rather, Husserl argued that all that philosophy could and should be is a description of experience (hence the phenomenological slogan, “to the things themselves”). But for Heidegger, this meant understanding that experience is always already situated in a world and in ways of being. Thus Husserl’s understanding that all consciousness is “intentional” (in the sense that it is always intended toward something, and is always “about” something) is transformed in Heidegger’s philosophy, becoming the thought that all experience is grounded in “care”. This is the basis of Heidegger’s “existential analytic”, as he develops it in Being and Time. Heidegger argues that to describe experience properly entails finding the Being for whom such a description might matter. Heidegger thus conducts his description of experience with reference to “Dasein,” the Being for whom being is a question.[28]

In Being and Time, Heidegger criticized the abstract and metaphysical character of traditional ways of grasping human existence as rational animal, person, man, soul, spirit, or subject. Dasein, then, is not intended as a way of conducting a philosophical anthropology, but is rather understood by Heidegger to be the condition of possibility for anything like a philosophical anthropology.[29] Dasein, according to Heidegger, is care. In the course of his existential analytic, Heidegger argues that Dasein, who finds itself thrown into the world (Geworfenheit) amidst things and with others, is thrown into its possibilities, including the possibility and inevitability of one’s own mortality. The need for Dasein to assume these possibilities, that is, the need to be responsible for one’s own existence, is the basis of Heidegger’s notions of authenticity and resoluteness—that is, of those specific possibilities for Dasein which depend on escaping the “vulgar” temporality of calculation and of public life.