According to Dasein’s essence laying in its existence, embodiment is saved from the limitations by which an individual is delivered over to their specific Being. Beginning division two of Being and Time is an examination into the characterization of Dasein as delivered over to its own Being that resultantly has two concurrent consequences. Firstly, the Being-what-it-is [Was-sein] of Dasein, its essence is only its “to be” [Zu-sein], its potentiality. In short, Dasein is not a “what” as if a entity such as a table and comprised of ontic categories and determinations, but is composed of “how” it is; which is possibility. Heidegger states that Dasein is distinct from other beings in that Dasein’s characteristics lie not in that it ‘looks’ a certain way and open to the objective categorization of the present-at-hand, but is in each case only one possible way for it to be and given to possibility to not be so. This is in contrast to the phenomenology of embodiment as asserted by Merleau-Ponty where body specifics are non-contingent to the extent that he says “a handless or sexless man is as inconceivable as one without the power of thought…everything in man is a necessity”[1] down to the finger opposing thumb. While in Heidegger, embodiment may be non-contingent, but the body is bounded only by possibility. David Cerbone writes that Heidegger leaves open the possibility for Dasein to be embodied in radically different ways so that in vast diversity and possibility each Dasein exists as though a species unto itself.[2] This is related to the second consequence of Dasein being delivered over to its own Being in that Dasein can not be spoken ontologically as an instance of a genus. This is the primordial existentiale of Jemeinigkeit, where Dasein has in each case only ‘mineness’. This means that Dasein is spoken of as ‘I’ and ‘you’ but not however as ‘we’.

            Equiprimordial to one’s mineness [Jemeinigkeit] is one’s befindlichkeit, or situatedness. In Being and Time’s thirty first paragraph befindlichkeit, translated by Macquarrie-Robinson as ‘state of mind’, is likewise stated by Heidegger to be equiprimordial with understanding. Undertanding and situatedness as worlded place them in the sphere not of explanation but interpretation. As humankind has uniquely language as the clearing of Being, Dasein is unique among entities. Heidegger examines Ek-sistent Dasein and animal existence in Fundamental Concepts of Metaphysics where he concludes that animals are captivated and ‘encircled by a disinhibiting ring’ where animal capacities disallow them to be worlded in the way humans are. Dasein’s embodiment is most properly interpreted through its possibilities and within its historical situation, not as a present-at-hand abstraction. “The fact that physiology and physiological chemistry can scientifically investigate man as an organism is no proof that in this “organic” thing, that is, in the body scientifically explained, the essence of man consists.”[3] As the body is open to interpretation, David Cerbone writes that an interpretation of the body must mace bodily performances in a broader existential structure where Dasein is in every case what it can be, in its actions, interpretations and meanings. Rather than the capacities of the animal organism as elucidated by Heidegger, Cerbone offers the body as an open system of capabilities whereby one’s embodied concern is of a ontological nature other than mere behavior. The interpreted body is an intentional, meaningful body and is a thrown and projecting project of possibilities and placed in a hermeneutical circle of processing interpretation. Dasein as an embodied sheltering of equally truth and untruth is at once meaningful and unessential. The nature of interpretation, the language that bears it, and the shared ethical co-world [Mitsein] naturally have implications towards the divisions of gender and Dasein’s Being.


[1] Merleau-Ponty, Maurice. Phenomenology of Perception trans. C. Smith (New York: Routledge. 1962), 170

[2] Cerbone, David R. “Heidegger and Dasein’s ‘Bodily Nature’: What is the Hidden Problematic?” International Journal of Philosophical Studies, Jul2000, VOl. 8 Issue 2, p209-230, 22p; DOI: 10.1080/09672550050084018; (AN 4220610), 214

 

[3] Heidegger, Martin. “Letter on Humanism” Basic Writings David Farrell Krell. Ed. (New York: Harper Collins. 1993) (New York: Harper Collins. 1993), 228

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