Being and Time (Contemporary Continental Philosophy)

Being and Time (Contemporary Continental Philosophy) - Martin Heidegger, Joan Stambaugh This is the single most important book for me for which I have ever read. The first time I read this book about a year ago it was a struggle and I only got the pieces of the story and didn't get the whole. Upon my second reading and after having dipped my toes into many other philosophy books, I now realized that Heidiegger is an incredibly good writer and he knows how to tell his story coherently. I am not a philosopher. Heidegger is not necessarily abtruse after a first reading.

Dasein, the being (thing) that takes a stand on its own being is unlike any other being in the universe. That kind of being always has in its background a variation of the the three big questions along the lines about our design (where did I come from), purpose (what am I supposed to do) and reason (where does my purpose lie). All three questions presuppose the existence of a self as a human being (Dasein). Hence the question of the most interesting being of all, our own being.

Heidegger starts the book with Hegel (consciousness is the 'indeterminate immediate') and ends the book with Hegel (time as now, but Heidegger is clearly not happy with that either). Hegel's 'Phenonomology of Mind (Spirit)' is my second favorite book and I read it (and his Logic) after I had read 'Being and Time' the first time. Hegel uses the abstract to explain the abstract and uses a dialetic (thesis, antithesis, synthesis) to bring it to reality (at least his version of reality).

Heidegger does something different. He'll start with things but end with time as if he wanted to do that all along, but he ends the book murkily because he is not comfortable with time. Einstein takes time out of the universe (as Parmenides does) through his 'block universe'. Einstein's original sin (his words) was entwining the absolute speed of light with a physical clock (Bergson knows this and does get cited in this book and Einstein 'theory of relativity' gets cited in a footnote but mostly to explicitly ignore it). Heidegger wants to put becoming back into the world and does his best at trying.

I want to get to the reason why I love this book so much. Dasein is thrown into the world and we lose our authentic selves because the "they", the idle chatter (gossip, Facebook), the entanglement, and the atunement (mood of the world) takes us away from our ownmost, nonrelational (never relating to death), and inseparable self. The self that allows us to understand most appropriately.

Dasein is always in guilt from the anxiety and fear from the potential being ahead of death that we all have. The guilt can be thought of as the debt we always owe ourselves because we know that we will die (Camus' 'the absurd'). An analogy I came up with that would not have been possible in 1927 is that the debt we have is similar to the near violation of the conservation of matter that happens when a virtual particle is created in space. The particle is created and near simultaneously (but not quite at the exact time) an anti-particle is created and it is destroyed unless this happens on the horizon of a black hole. The particle that is originally created only exists in the emptiness of space as long as it knows that a debt must be paid leading to its own annihilation. Otherwise, the particle could not exist without violating a conservation law.

It is our authentic existence that makes Dasein care (our conscience calls ourselves). The worldviews we have are a 'facon de parler' (convenient fiction). The book "Sapiens" gets this point. Heidegger states "that science has its origins in authentic existence", but "I will not show that in this book". He'll speak of history as a science to show that how we understand history is analogous to how we experience ourselves. Dilthey's 'generations' which is footnoted and I looked up to confirm that it meant the cohorts that we're put in with make us partly who we become, often less authentic.

I usually detest (maybe loathe is a better word) self help books ("The Purpose Driven Life" is probably the single worst book I've ever read). I've never have seen a better self help book than this book. Our purpose for life lies within understanding our own understand of being in the world and understanding the variation to the three big questions. This book has that and also provides insights and justifications into why I think the way I do. I just love his insult at people who say "I don't have the time", they, according to him (and me) are inauthentic irresolute' because the person who understands will have 'anticipatory resoluteness' and always make time appropriately.

Appropriately is how we must lead our ownmost being. Our ethical, moral, and ontological (in a way, philosophical) views come from our understanding, discourse, attunement and entanglement with being in the world and is up to us to grab onto our authentic selves. As Heidegger says, 'speaking a lot about something does not in the least guarantee that understanding is thus furthered". So therefore, I'll stop writing about why I love this book so much.