Overview of this study Excursus: Lévinas' ethics of the Other
e)k tou/twn ou)=n fanero\n o(/ti tw=n fu/sei h( po/lij e)sti/, kai\ o(/ti o( a/)nqrwpoj fu/sei politiko\n z%==?on, kai\ o( a)/polij dia\ fu/sin kai\ ou) dia\ tu/xhn h/)toi fau=lo/j e)stin h\) krei/ttwn h\) a/)nqrwpoj.
Aristotle Politics 1253a3
From this therefore it is clear that the pole around which living together is situated arises of itself and that humans by their nature are living beings that live together and that a human divorced from the pole of living together either through their nature and not through fortune is either worthless or better than human.
Standing out in the open, you or I can respond to the beings standing over against us by way of speaking. What shows itself of itself in the openness of the truth of being comes to language. Articulated expressly in language, beings in their being are communicated from one Dasein to another. This communication can be taken in by the other because the other also stands out exposed, gathered into the open and also takes in beings as such as they reveal themselves.
We share the truth, not, in the first place, because we agree on how things show themselves, but, prior to this possibility and underlying any possibility of agreement or disagreement, because we share in common the openness within which beings as such can come to stand over against us at all. This granting openness is common to us and also allows all difference, not only in beings themselves in their self-definition, but also between us in what we take to be true (correct). You or I can call up beings to stand over against us in their definite, defined outline by using language; language summons things (which are themselves granted by being to language) to stand in presence and allows them thus to be shared. Sharing the truth in this originary sense does not mean that you and I tell the truth as opposed to lies, nor that you or I see things in their true light as opposed to a false or distorted light. That things can deceive us, or that one of us can speak deceptively to the other is only possible because we both already stand in the truth of being within which beings as such reveal themselves and therefore can also conceal themselves, or reveal themselves only obscurely, partially or distortedly. Deception or illusion is not the opposite of truth, but an essential part of it as the event-uation of openness. Deception or illusion are the dis-essencing or de-generation of truth, but nevertheless likewise belong to the same openness.
Seeing eye-to-eye is by no means the precondition for us standing together in the truth, but is only one possible, even exceptional, mode of standing together in the truth. Even my lying to you presupposes that we are both standing out in the truth (openness, clearing) of the being of beings. (I cannot lie to my dog, and my dog cannot lie to me.) Truth in the sense used here is all-encompassing,(1) thus making possible the yoke, or conjugation,(2) of being together. Truth as the openness of the being of beings in their totality is a unity not only for the beings that are thus unified under the One (to\ e(//n), but also for us who stand out together in the common (i.e. catholic, to\ kaqo/lou) openness of truth. The openness of being is thus (at least) two-fold, on the one hand, enfolding everything that is into one, and on the other, enfolding us together into a unified togetherness of being out there in the open while at the same time keeping us apart as distinct and individual Dasein.
The oneness of the openness of the truth of being goes so far that those who lie to and deceive each other, who even loath, despise and hate each other are together nonetheless, inextricably and ineluctably. In other words: Dasein inevitably and ineluctably means Mitsein, and such a statement about being comes before any factical specificity. Misunderstanding each other, not seeing eye-to-eye with each other are further deficient or deprived modes of sharing the truth of being. The world is open for beings to show themselves as they are. This showing of themselves is taken in by understanding, which in its details (singularity) can and does vary from individual to individual. Since the way beings present themselves to understanding is always individual (i.e. to an individual who individually takes in what is granted to it in the openness of being's truth), misunderstanding prevails between individuals for the most part. Understanding between people (Dasein) happens for the most part as misunderstanding. I cannot, by contrast, misunderstand a stone or a dog, for we are not together in the same dimension of openness (of being). Between me and the dog there is neither understanding nor misunderstanding. We have, in truth, nothing in common.(3) as well as the lectures from Winter Semester 1928/29 in Freiburg.(4)
"I am" is a simple statement, and so is "I am myself". The deceptive simplicity of these statements hides their ontological depth, since the reflexivity of "myself" points to the selfhood that I can never shake off. "I am" implies "I am myself", although the two statements are not equivalent. In the present context, "I am" is not just an ontic statement of fact, but should be taken in its ontological weight and depth. "I am" means "I am myself", i.e. selfhood is an essential moment of Dasein. But what does selfhood mean? It has been referred to as individuation, as my-very-ownness, as non-substitutability, as non-interchangeability. These are all aspects of selfhood, but they do not get to the core of the matter which can only be achieved if "I am" is shown in its essential connection with being, and being is shown in its essential connection with time. For it must be kept in mind that Heidegger's main work is called Being and Time, and the philosophical explication of the "and" which conjoins being and time constitutes the guiding thread of his thinking in the twenties and beyond. There is an intimate relationship, an essential connection between Dasein and time, which has to be presented here in order to make sense of "I am".
The essential connection between Dasein and time is that Dasein is nothing other than a generative coming about of time. This does not mean of course that Dasein is a generator which generates time, but that Dasein is nothing other than this generation itself as a coming about. "Generative coming about" here is the translation of a peculiar German noun "Zeitigung" derived from the verb "zeitigen" which in turn bears an intimate relationship to "Zeit", "time". How does time come about, how is it gezeitigt or generated? It comes about in the generative coming about of the ecstasies of time which remove and transport (entrücken) Dasein into the three dimensions of time: future, past (been-ness) and present, whereby the future has a primacy, as will be explained below.
In the first place, Dasein has a future, which means that it always already stands out or is ex-static toward the future. Standing out toward the future is a casting of itself, i.e. Dasein casts itself in the sense of shaping and moulding its own future in relation to other beings. Casting is taken here in the dual sense of throwing itself into the future (with its projects) and of shaping and moulding the future it is to have out of its powers and possibilities. This casting is a casting of itself, i.e. in casting into the future, the self of Dasein also opens up as an abyss of possibility; it casts and can cast only for itself (which has nothing to do with it being selfish). Dasein is necessarily for its own sake, for the sake of its self which is in casting into its very own projects according to its abilities, powers and possibilities, all of which represent renderings of the German, Seinkönnen. Dasein's sake is the issue which it is and remains for its self as long as it exists.
In the second place, in casting itself into the future, Dasein comes back to itself as the who it has been, i.e. Dasein always has its own history, and any project it casts for itself always has to recur to this history which, in having passed by, conjoins with the future in this way. Dasein's history is thus precisely not past, but, in having passed by, is in determining how Dasein has been cast thus far. In having been, Dasein stands out into its own past, its own beenness. What Dasein has been is not irrelevant (un-related) for how it casts itself into the future. Any possibility of Dasein casting itself must return to whom Dasein has been. Dasein only has a future in returning to its own history that has already cast it into its present situation.
In the third place, in returning to who it has been in casting itself into the projected future of its projects, Dasein brings to presence what is necessary for realizing its project of self-casting. This is only possible because Dasein also stands out into the present which is brought to hand as Dasein exists its self. This bringing to presence-at-hand is bound up essentially with Dasein's bodiliness. Both things and other Dasein have to be made to present themselves in presence for an individual Dasein's project to be realized. Thus, everything and everybody that surrounds Dasein in the present is always already transcended in Dasein having always already cast its self in one way or the other and incorporated them into its projects. Incorporation means that other beings must be within Dasein's grasp for them to be present, even if it merely is the grip that holds the telephone receiver. Everything and everybody are enmeshed in Dasein's projects and seen from their perspective. This transcendence takes place starting from Dasein's casting itself beyond beings into the future, which is always its very own future, the future of its self. Dasein is nothing other than this coming about of time granted for its casting of its self with which both what it has been and what it is at present must also dovetail.
Dasein existing for the sake of its self in casting itself within the coming about of time is synonymous with its freedom. Freedom is thus, in the first place and always, individual freedom, i.e. political and social freedoms, if they are anything at all, are also always ultimately individual. The three ex-stasies of time that come about as Dasein form the horizon of its world, which however is not only its very own. The horizon of world is the envelope that envelops the ex-stasies of time. Heidegger refers to this enveloping horizon as "ekstematic":
Das Ekstematische zeitigt sich schwingend als ein Welten; nur sofern dergleichen wie ekstatische Schwingung als je eine Zeitlichkeit sich zeitigt[e?](5), geschieht Welteingang [des Seienden ME]. (GA26:270, emphasis in the original)Because casting my self, returning to myself and turning to others and other things all occur for the sake of my self on the basis of how I understand the world, i.e. beings in their being and as a whole, it appears that existence in this sense of a coming about of a temporal horizon of world for an individual, very own self is solipsistic. However, because self-casting always also involves understanding, being affected by and thus casting others in the third person within the project of my self, there can be no solipsism (even in the case where this casting of self is egoistic through and through). Others are always already included in my world, which is a worlding of my self, even if only privatively in my excluding them from consideration or by my 'using' them for my own ends. World is the timespace, i.e. the temporal horizon, that envelops the ex-stasies of time that come about as Dasein's being. The coming about of future in self-casting, the coming about of having been in returning-to... and the coming about of presence in turning-to... and calling-to... and being-with..., all these three temporal moments or ex-stasies together constitute the temporally happening horizon of my world.
The casting of my self occurs in terms of others from the very start, so that casting for the sake of my self already includes casting others within my world. The others do not first appear in turning to them in the present. Casting into the future from the undetermined nothingness of my Da and returning to my self in my already having-been-cast is my freedom. All casting takes place in terms of others in both the second and third person (a point that Heidegger does not make), for, in casting myself, I can only cast the role that others are to play in my own self-casting. My self, my freedom is irrevocably individual and exclusively my own. This individuality of self implies that the others are cast a role in my self-casting at first and for the most part in the third person, no matter whether my self-casting is egoistic or altruistic, i.e. the others enter my world at first and for the most part through me understanding them and integrating them into a casting that I posit, no matter how much my self-casting may be for the 'good' of the others or take others into account or be sensitive to their needs and desires. Others are thus initially at the disposal and the 'mercy' of my self-casting. Only in the second person do I enter into the world of others and am confronted directly (unmittelbar) with their freedom (see below).
The temporal horizon of world that envelops time in its ongoing coming-about is universal (one, e(/n), i.e. valid for all Dasein, but it is Dasein's individual self that in each case is cast within it. Dasein's self is the first person, whereas the others are (at first) only incorporated into Dasein's self-casting in the third person. The first person thus signifies the individualization, selfhood and freedom of Dasein as a being enclosed within its self-world. Dasein's self-casting transcends (swings over) not only things, but also other Dasein in casting its very own project (for the sake of its very own good) onto the horizon of time. Thus, the universal oneness of the temporal horizon allows other beings, including other Dasein, to enter Dasein's world, which however nevertheless is and remains the world in which and into which Dasein casts its own individual self. Incorporating other beings, including other Dasein, into my self-casting (in the first person) initially in the third person amounts to approximating others ontologically to other things at hand in the third person that I employ in daily life, e.g. my car is for getting me around, and the shoemaker is for repairing my shoes.
The phenomenological origin (in the truth of being) of the (grammatical) difference between first person and third person lies in this structure of Dasein as self and Mitdasein as an other who is at my disposal like a thing. The other only enters into my world as a separate self who eludes my disposition in the second person.
3. Addressing others(6)Now we turn to how others become present in my world in the second person. This mode of presencing has to be kept distinct from how Dasein casts others within its self-casting, for now it is a matter of others being called directly to presence, i.e. of us directly entering each other's world. Calling-to... (appellating) is the primary mode in which turning to the other takes place ontically in the present. The other comes to presence directly in the openness of my Da in being invoked, called to, in being addressed, appellated. The other cannot be simply manipulated like a ready-to-hand thing which I likewise turn to in realizing my projects of self-casting in the present, even though I may regard the other simply as a means to my end. The other cannot be simply manipulated because the other is also Dasein and thus free, a free self open to being. Taking account of other Dasein and casting them into a role within my self-casting into the future has to be distinguished from calling to or addressing other Dasein in turning to them in the present. In writing a letter, for example, I am addressing the other directly in the present, even though the other is not immediately present to sense perception or within my bodily grasp or reach. I am not just addressing some representation of the other that I have in my 'head' but am turning directly to the other. Being present to my senses in the same space or, say, on the telephone, is only one mode in which the other or anything else can be present to me.
Only by addressing the other in the present does the second person happen (ontically); only by addressing the other does Dasein open up the possibility of encountering the other (cf. below), and such an encounter can only take place, if at all, in the temporal ecstasy of the present. This holds even when there is no simultaneity of address and response, as when writing a letter and receiving a reply, for both addressing and responding are acts that belong to the individual present of each Dasein involved, albeit with a forward projection into the future. In the other temporal ecstasies of future and past, in my casting of my self and returning to my self in who I have been, others are always already there, but there in the third person, whereas in the present, in addressing others and being addressed by them, the other presences immediately in a singular mode in my world which can be designated as second person presencing. The second person as mode of being together is the condition of possibility of becoming involved immediately with other Dasein as Dasein, i.e. of allowing our respective worlds to intermingle. This intermingling is only possible (ontologically) because each Dasein has a world and these worlds can be shared, and in one sense always already are shared, under the oneness of being (cf. below).
Being addressed or addressing is the way an other Dasein enters my world in the second person. Such presencing takes place only in the present and not, say, in casting out into the future. Other things can and do enter my presence not through me addressing them or through me being addressed by them but by them happening to me (thus calling for a response or, more strictly, a reaction from me) or by me taking them to hand in using them for some purpose or other. My reaction to things happening to me and thus intruding into or at least impinging upon my world always implies some kind of modification to my casting, i.e. a re-casting, no matter how slight, based on a revised understanding of my world that calls for a re-action. On a trivial everyday level, e.g. if my car breaks down, this impinges on my world and I have to re-cast my existence to arrange for my car to be repaired, or more seriously, if my house burns down, my entire existence may have to be re-cast. When things intrude unwilled or unwantedly into my presence without being turned to on the basis of a self-casting, what happens to me immediately becomes what has happened to me, thus altering how I have been cast and compelling me to react by re-casting my self to a greater or lesser extent, in other words, by adapting my self-casting to changed circumstances. The ecstasy of the present is where things can and do happen to me within the temporal world-horizon. This happening-to... in the present changes who I have been and forces a modification of the casting of my self out of the future, which has to dovetail with who I have been. In this happening-to..., the present and my having-been as temporal ecstasies gain ascendancy over the future and compel me to modify my self-casting.
When the other addresses me, s/he enters my world in the temporal ecstasy of presence. Only in the present do I come to taste the other immediately in their freedom, i.e. as Dasein. The other happens to me, but in a mode that differs from the way things impinge upon my world, for things cannot address me. Their impingement calls on me to react, not to respond. The other, in addressing me, evokes a response, not a reaction. This terminological convenience is introduced only to keep the differing modes of incursion of the other and things into my world distinct. In the response to the other who is addressing me there is acknowledgement, recognition of the addresser. As what is the addresser acknowledged and recognized? As Dasein, i.e. as also here in the openness of the truth of being. It is not just that each perceives and understands the other as Dasein, but that each recognizes and acknowledges the other as Dasein, i.e. as a free being. This does not necessarily mean that the other's freedom is conceded, for even in brutally denying the other's freedom, it must be fundamentally acknowledged, albeit negatively.(7)
We always meet each other; there can be no unilateral meeting. If I ignore someone who addresses me, no meeting in the second person comes about. The ignoring is a refusal and foreclosure of the second person and injures the other by denying their status as free Dasein. But even ignoring, in its negativity, is only possible because of an underlying positive recognition of the other as Dasein.
Addressing each other is the way we immediately enter into each other's world in our respective involvement with things. By entering into each other's world, we are also able to share each other's concerns. Forging a joint undertaking in a meeting is only one possible way in which we can share each other's world. For the most part, meeting each other is a fleeting passing by. The transactions of daily life too which are performed in taking care of everyday matters are a fleeting occurrence, but they are nonetheless based on a reciprocity of acknowledgement of the other as Dasein, no matter how politely formal this acknowledgement may be.
Aufgrund dieses Überschwunges ist das Dasein jeweils dem Seiendem über, wie wir sagen, aber freilich gerade so, daß es das Seiende in dem Widerstand allererst erfährt als das, wogegen das transzendierende Dasein ohnmächtig ist. (GA26:279)Dasein's transcendent freedom is, on the obverse side, nothing other than the resistance of beings. Without freedom, no resistance, and conversely: the resistance of things is the ontological reaction of things to Dasein's freedom. This resistance, as Heidegger points out, is a metaphysical resistance, i.e. it lies on the (ontological) plane of being. In this generality, all beings offer resistance to Dasein, not just other Dasein. Dasein is always already beyond beings by incorporating or casting them within its own cast of self. The overswing over beings is the metaphysical origin of their resistance, a resistance that cannot be overcome because it is an essential moment of Dasein's very metaphysical transcendence. So beings only enter Dasein's world with resistance and Dasein is metaphysically impotent against their resistance, i.e. Dasein's impotence is the essential, obverse side of its freedom as Dasein. As the coming about of time, Dasein is enveloped by the unified horizon of world that provides the shared, unified temporal dimensions for Dasein's freedom, and this freedom comes up against the resistance of other beings, including the resistance of other Dasein.
But the resistance of other Dasein, as discussed so far, is its resistance in the third person and is thus so far on a par with the resistance of things. In the sense of the metaphysical superiority introduced by Heidegger in the above passage, Dasein is metaphysically "above" other Dasein in the third person. The metaphysics of the second person encounter of Dasein and Dasein, including the resistance encountered in the second person, have yet to be considered.
Can it be said that in meeting you I am confronted fundamentally with your resistance? This is a question not pursued or even posed by Heidegger. But Heidegger does at least admit the following question:
... muß dann nicht auch die Duheit in der gleichen Weise zum Thema werden und muß nicht Duheit gleich ursprünglich mit Ichheit zusammengenommen werden? Gewiß ist das ein mögliches Problem. (GA26:242)And he adds as qualification:
Aber die Ichheit als Gegenphänomen zur Duheit ist immer noch nicht die metaphysische Egoität. Hier wird klar, daß der Titel 'Ich' immer in die Richtung der Isolierung meiner selbst drängt, im Sinne einer entsprechenden Abschnürung vom Du. Wogegen Ichheit eben nicht das faktische Ich meint, als vom Du unterschiedenes, sondern Egoität meint diejenige Ichheit, die auch dem Du zugrunde liegt und welche gerade verhindert, das Du faktisch als ein alter ego zu fassen. Warum ist aber ein Du nicht einfach ein zweites Ich? Weil das Ichsein im Unterschied vom Dusein gar nicht das Wesen des Daseins trifft, d.h. weil ein Du ein solches nur ist qua es selbst, und ebenso auch das / 'Ich'. Daher gebrauche ich meist für die metaphysische Ichheit, für die Egoität den Ausdruck Selbstheit. Denn das 'selbst' kann vom Ich und Du in gleicher Weise ausgesagt werden... (GA26:242f)This possible question and its extensive qualification never comes to enjoy concentrated attention in Heidegger's thinking. In fact, Heidegger does not consider the phenomenon of the second person in its own right at all. His treatment of Mitdasein, i.e. of other Dasein, and Mitsein in Sein und Zeit and elsewhere is largely restricted to the encounter (Begegnung) with Mitdasein in the third person. Where the phenomenon of the second person comes to light, as, say, in the phenomenon of listening-to... (Sein und Zeit § 34), this is not explicitly underscored. This is apparent throughout § 26 of Sein und Zeit, where Mitsein is dealt with most extensively. Cf. e.g. the following passage:
Dasein versteht sich zunächst und zumeist aus seiner Welt, und das Mitdasein der Anderen begegnet vielfach aus dem innerweltlich Zuhandenen her. (SuZ 120(8))Thus e.g. the "boat anchored on the beach" (SuZ 118) refers to an acquaintance who is thus "encountered" via the boat. The person-to-person encounter is left or pushed aside in favour of the encounter mediated by what each Dasein is currently involved with. Thus Heidegger employs a very general usage of the word 'encounter', for in his usage an encounter with the other takes place 'at first and for the most part' in the third person, mediated by things, i.e. impersonally. As we have pointed out above, a (personal) meeting in the second person only takes place in the present, and I reserve the term 'encounter' here precisely to an exceptional possibility within personally meeting the other in the present (cf. below 'Barely encountering you'). Being with others in the broad sense that Heidegger uses the term is not, properly speaking, an encounter with the other but a coming-across the other and sharing a common concern. Here however we are involved with the problem of the meeting of two free selves. How can the meeting of individual freedom and individual freedom be thought? It will be necessary to make a distinction between encounter and meeting in order to keep the various aspects of the phenomenon now at the focus of attention apart. This question demands some further preparation.
... wenn ein Dasein neben ein anderes Dasein tritt, so tritt das eine in den Raum der Offenbarkeit des anderen, genauer ihr Sein bei... bewegt sich in demselben Umkreis von Offenbarkeit. [...] Wenn nun ein anderes Dasein faktisch zugegen ist, dann ist dieses nie lediglich auch da, sondern seinem Wesen nach mit da, und zwar ist es nicht auch seiend, sondern mit seiend, weil es Da-sein ist, sich in denselben Umkreis von Offenbarkeit stellt. [...] Wenn nun aber Dasein und Dasein nie neben dem anderen existiert, dann heißt das: Jedes ist als wesenhaft heraustretendes auch schon eingetreten in die Offenbarkeit des anderen. Sie halten sich notwendig, auch wenn sie sich nicht umeinander kümmern, als Da-sein, das sie sind, in derselben Sphäre von Offenbarkeit; diese qua Dasein mit sich bringen, heißt: sie mitteilen mit Seiendem seinesgleichen. (GA27: 134, 137, 138)This means that Dasein cannot help but share the truth, its sphere of openness, with other Dasein. The truth as the sphere of openness in which beings are disclosed as such, is always already shared, it is always already in common, so that Dasein and Dasein are always together or with each other and never merely alongside or next to each other. This essential insight of Heidegger's, which is key to overcoming the metaphysics of subjectivity and its attendant theories of intersubjectivity, must be held onto in any attempt to think through the phenomena of meeting and encounter as essential possibilities of existence which are not to be equated simply with the existenzial-ontological condition of togetherness (Mitsein).
You and I are both Dasein. The meeting or encounter between Dasein and Dasein has to be thought without losing sight of what constitutes Dasein as such: its 'Da', or presence (including absence) here. Each Dasein brings its temporal circle of presence here along with it. Its Da is the three-dimensional temporal openness that allows it to exist and cast itself as self. For a meeting in the second person, however, something more is involved. For other Dasein, I have always already opened myself as Dasein, i.e. other Dasein understands me and is attuned to me as Dasein, as being that has its own Da. The possibility of meeting is only given by virtue of Dasein's being addressable. Addressability, however, goes hand in hand with Dasein bearing its own proper name. Without a proper name, Dasein cannot properly be addressed. Proper-namedness(9) is thus likewise a condition of possibility for a meeting between you and me to take place.
The second person comes about as an ontic event through invocation of another Dasein which is always already disclosed as addressable and as bearing a proper name, even though this name might be factically unknown and thus generic names such as Madam or Sir or Dr substituted for the sake of politeness. Addressability goes hand in hand with a deference to other Dasein's freedom and its own individual openness to the truth of being. Although other Dasein is always already (preontologically) understood as such, so that the openness of its Da in which beings as such appear is always already shared, an entry into other Dasein's world on the basis of an interchange or commerce between Dasein and Dasein can only factically occur in the present and on the basis of the existential-ontological conditions of addressability and proper-namedness. These two existential-ontological features constitute conditions of possibility for the dimension of the second person, which is a dimension of invocation in which you and I can immediately (i.e. 'personally') enter each other's Da. You and I invoke each other in the second person in addressing each other by our proper names.
Addressability is the ontological gateway to Dasein and Dasein sharing world in the second person and is at the same time the way in which Dasein is implicitly acknowledged and recognized by other Dasein as free. As a rule, other Dasein does not simply man-handle Dasein (which would negate its freedom by way of physical assault), but addresses it, no matter how minimally (thus implicitly acknowledging its freedom and its essential metaphysical resistance). Even in negating, i.e. riding roughshod over Dasein's freedom through rudeness, violence, compelling subjugation, etc., other Dasein has acknowledged it, albeit negatively. The commerce between Dasein and Dasein when they meet is always essentially an interchange based on the mutual acknowledgement of Dasein as free.
Even when Dasein is addressed as "You!" or "You, dog!"(10), even then, it's existential-ontological freedom is acknowledged. Just as Dasein's freedom comes up essentially against the resistance of beings against which it is metaphysically impotent, Dasein comes up essentially against the freedom of other Dasein, which is metaphysically inviolable. Just as all the unleashed power of technology cannot overcome the metaphysical resistance of beings, even immeasurable violence done to other Dasein cannot violate its metaphysical-existential freedom.(11)
Heidegger writes with regard to Dasein's metaphysical impotence:
Die Ohnmacht ist metaphysisch, d.h. als wesenhaft zu verstehen: sie kann nicht widerlegt werden durch den Hinweis auf die Naturbeherrschung, auf die Technik, die heute wie eine entfesselte Bestie in die 'Welt' hineinwütet; denn diese Herrschaft ist der eigentliche Beweis für die metaphysische Ohnmacht des Daseins, das die Freiheit nur in seiner Geschichte sich gewinnt. (GA26:279)In the same way it can be said that all the violence done to Dasein by Dasein which factically negates its freedom is impotent to touch Dasein's essential metaphysical freedom as Dasein, which is therefore metaphysically inviolable. Not only is other Dasein's freedom inviolable, but other Dasein's freedom is always acknowledged as such, even in violating it factically. Dasein has always already opened itself up as Dasein so that it is always already disclosed as such. This means in particular that its freedom is always already disclosed, and other Dasein always (implicitly, preontologically) comprehends it as free Dasein. Even in being factically denied, it is not possible to do away with the disclosedness of Dasein's freedom. The disclosed truth of Dasein's freedom is existential-ontologically inviolable.
One misunderstanding should be avoided here. Dasein's freedom being existential-ontologically inviolable has to be distinguished from a declaration of fundamental human rights or an enunciation of an ethical principle about the value of human freedom. The inability and impotence (Nichtseinkönnen) to violate Dasein's freedom stems from its ontological status as belonging to Dasein's being, so that any ontic actions of others, no matter how violent, brutal and atrocious, cannot impinge on its ontological condition, which is situated on a completely different plane the plane of being. Dasein's inviolable freedom is the ontological condition of possibility for declaring human rights or enunciating any ethical principle and therefore comes prior to any political or moral considerations.
This has already been said: We meet within the openness of the truth of being; but this answer leads only to further questions, for it is the specificity of the first and second person, of you-and-me that is in question here. The first person of being consists in my being myself; first-person being is selfhood. I am this singular, singled, indivisible, individual existence, and there is no getting away from or around that. I am my very own existence, an ontological condition that Heidegger calls Jemeinigkeit, my-very-ownness. But what is the gist of the second person, its ontological peculiarity?
You and I share a world that we are both cast out into, opened up to taking in beings granted in their being, i.e. we are 'blessed' (or 'cursed') with an understanding of being and, for the most part, take it for granted. Not taking it for granted means engaging in ontology that works up implicit preontological understanding into explicit ontological concepts. Thie preontological understanding of being can be shared in speech, and any dialogue at all presupposes an implicit sharing of an understanding of being. Beings are called into presence by being talked about and, in being called or invoked to come forward into the opening of being to which Dasein is inevitably 'witness', we can share the presence of these invoked beings. The dialogue that arises between you and me reveals the invoked beings from various angles and perspectives; they are decrypted (i.e. removed from the crypt of concealedness) and become malleable in the medium of our speech. Our respective callings and namings of the matter at hand may diverge widely at first call, and these views may either converge or diverge even more widely during the course of our dialogue, i.e. our speaking-through of the matter at hand.
In talking about matters the whole problematic of interpretation opens up. Hermeneutic dialogue allows the matters at hand to come to presence. Usually it is assumed (hopefully) that a dialogue will lead to a convergence of interpretation of the phenomena concerned. Dialogue and hermeneutics in this sense is a sharing of the truth of beings in the third person. Beings show themselves as such to our understanding, and this understanding can be shared and re-formed through speech.(12) A political dialogue, by contrast, aims not at an eventually shared interpretation, but at a compromise of interests or at defeating the opponent at a vote, and is therefore a power struggle.
But talking about matters in dialogue is not the encounter of you-and-me.
Viva la joia! was in her eyes.
A transient spark of amity shot across the space betwixt us
She looked amiable!
Laurence Sterne Tristram Shandy Vol. VII Ch. 43
You and I only show ourselves as selves in a mutual showing of each other that takes place in the interstices of (and almost incidentally to) the showing of beings in the third person. For, the world of beings in the third person never drops away entirely when you and I meet each other. Or said the other way round, the phenomenon of you-and-me only flickers on the sidelines of our mutually having dealings with things. The phenomenon of you-and-me the point at which the meeting turns into encounter only barely takes place, but it takes place nonetheless. Barely-but-nonetheless is the essential hallmark of you-and-me as an event-uation that scarcely 'is' if measured against the traditional metaphysical yardstick of substance, i.e. well-defined, standing presence.
If there is a sharing of world between us in talking about matters, there is yet another between, an in-between, which is the dimension of our encounter proper as you-and-me. Whereas the between of worldsharing can be brought out into the open by language in talking about our concerns and other issues,, when we meet, the in-between of you-and-me is scarcely perceptible, for it is the dimension in which we experience each other in our mutual singular openness for each other and the world, which is at the same time the openness of our profound withdrawal from each other into our ineluctable respective individualities. When we experience you-and-me in an encounter, we each gaze into the abyss of the other's being-here and share it as such. It is as if the metaphysical isolation of the my-very-ownness of my existence had been suspended in a moment of union, but only as if. This union is not a symbiotic melting of one into the other, nor is it the tearing away of the veil to reveal our innermost souls to each other; but rather it is the inkled sharing of our mutual self-encryption, the sharing of its aura. At the innermost soul there is nothing to see. When lovers look into each other's eyes and feel one with each other, they feel simultaneously the pain of their insurmountable metaphysical isolation from each other as individuals. This contradiction expresses the impossibility of encounter that is barely possible nevertheless. You-and-I is a 'we' that does not exist or ek-sist, standing out in the open, but hovers ever so slightly in a resonant inkling. Its fuzziness makes it suspect for 'logical' thinking. Therefore, today's philosophy almost entirely ignores the phenomenon of encounter and passes it on to religion.
You-and-I is the immediate experience of a complicity of being together in the world. It is the fleeting moment in which each of us realizes that we are both cast out into and exposed to the openness of being's truth. You-and-I is the chimerical sharing of ecstasy as such, but ecstasy by no means in the usual sense of a state of intoxication or, say, erotic rapture, but rather ex-stasy in the sense of standing-out into the openness of being's timespace. This sharing of world in the sharing of our individualized out-standing temporal ecstasy is the ever so slight communion of realization that we are together in the world as Dasein. In the moment (Augen-Blick, the look into each other's eyes) of you-and-me, a flickering realization takes place that each of us exists their singular existence in the timespace of being, each casting their self chasmally out of nothing. We both share the timespace and are located here in the dimensions of past, present and future, although forever separated from each other within our respective individual selves. Although forever (i.e. metaphysically) separated and isolated in our individual selves, this individuation can paradoxically be shared in certain fleeting moments that cannot be held on to, seemingly suspending isolation momentarily. Thus being enables us to come together as you-and-me in togetherness while at the same time keeping us apart in our respective very-own selves. The truth of being allows the sharing of third person beings in their being, and, in the interstices, it barely allows also the sharing of you-and-me when we brush against each other ever so slightly.
This possibility of brushing against each other slightly and unexpectedly does not depend on familiarity, for familiarity is more akin to knowing about each other in the third person, i.e. knowing each other's histories and personalities and characters in terms that can be gathered into language and understood. Understanding each other is not the experience of you-and-me in the encounter. There is an aura, a nimbus of selfhood surrounding each of us which can perhaps mutually event-uate and commingle in an encounter. This aura does not persist or perdure; it is a momentary eventuation perceptible in the inkling of mood rather than in understanding; it cannot be brought to stand within definite contours.
The encounter between Dasein and Dasein in which you-and-I come about in the present is only possible because as Dasein we always already share the clearing of being's truth in which beings appear as unencrypted and disclosed. This a priori ontological sharing of truth is the basis, i.e. the condition of possibility, of having any commerce and communication with each other at all and also of encountering each other. Thus in a sense one Dasein never steps into the open circle of truth surrounding another Dasein, for the circles of truth are always already shared simply by being here. But in another sense, one Dasein does step into another Dasein's circle or horizon of openness by entering into the concrete, factual present situation of another Dasein. Such a concrete situation is always specific to the Dasein concerned and ever-changing and open to contingencies of all sorts. The specificity of an individual Dasein's situation is particular, not singular, and therefore can be specified coming from a general understanding of being; another Dasein can comprehend this specific situation on the basis of the shared openness of truth, but this comprehending is still as long as Dasein and Dasein do not address and enter into a dialogue with each other a comprehension of truth in the third person, even when the one Dasein has particular empathy (Mitbefindlichkeit) and sensitivity for the other's situation. Empathy means that Dasein is able to take in the attunement of the situation that the other Dasein is in and to be itself attuned by it. All truth of individual Dasein is attuned, and this attunement is always already shared, along with the truth of beings given to understanding.
One Dasein steps into the open horizon of disclosed truth of another Dasein in an essentially different way by addressing the other Dasein. This addressing of the other transforms the other from third person to second person and initiates a relation in the second person which we have called a meeting. The existential-ontological preconditions for addressing the other are the essential addressability and proper-namedness of Dasein, as introduced above. This kind of personal sharing of truth has to do not just with the situation that is shared, but the mode of immediacy in which one Dasein is present and presents itself to the other. Only when Dasein and Dasein move on from a common involvement with a matter at hand in a concrete situation in which they meet to an immediacy of presence as selves for each other as such is an encounter in the second person initiated. Thus, not all second person relations with the other are encounters. Nor can an encounter be intentionally willed by one or other or by both; it is beyond willing and just 'happens'. The you-and-I relation of meeting that comes about in the present when one Dasein enters concretely into the sphere of another Dasein's truth by addressing them is essentially different from the third person ('impersonal') sharing of truth that otherwise takes place in the Mitsein of one Dasein with another in dealing with a common concern. In the dimension of the second person broached by addressing the other, the other's Dasein as selfhood is implicitly acknowledged, even though the intercourse may be purely formal and directed towards a shared matter of concern. In the encounter this implicitness turns into explicitness, and two selves as such recognize each other directly, albeit only in the mode of inkling. The selves themselves are disclosed to each other in their mutual withdrawnness and nakedness, where nakedness is here understood in the sense of being stripped of all involvement with beings and thus as the nothingness from which each self casts itself into involvement with the world.
Whereas the sharing of a common circle or horizon of unconcealedness is the ontological precondition for Dasein and Dasein sharing the truth of a concrete situation (by meeting), an encounter in the second person is the possibility of the mutual 'blind' insight of Dasein into each other, i.e. a mutual appreciation in which each Dasein sees, or rather, resonates and empathizes with the individualized Dasein of the other as such. This resonant, empathic appreciation is eery, for it is an in-sight into nothingness that sees nothing. The mutual, seeming insight of encounter is akin to two fleeting windows through which two Dasein can appreciate each other as Dasein. It is a 'blind' insight into nothingness because each Dasein is essentially exposed to being and its own being, and has to cast its self freely out of the temporal openness of its possibilities. On the one hand, Dasein is cast into the world and is always powerless vis-à-vis having-already-been-cast. Thus it has always already gotten itself into situations, "through others, through circumstances and contingencies" (GA27:337). Dasein can never get on top of its thrownness and master it. On the other hand, since it is open to and even confronted by its very own possibilities, it is always called upon by the openness of being to be its self, i.e. it is always confronted with the decision to cast itself one way or the other, into one mould or the other, into one possible role or other and thus, despite its already-having-been-cast, to be a beginning, over and over again, from scratch. Its freedom of self-casting is at the same time its nothingness, since as existence Dasein is nothing other than the ongoing coming about of its very own timespace as the horizon of world within which it casts its self out of a starting-point (a)rxh/) which itself has not been effected by a preceding cause, nor is tied irrevocably to a future telos. Dasein is essentially exposed to the struggle for its self-stand in a free casting. As a free casting out of nothingness, Dasein is also responsible and to blame for how it casts itself in the world; the buck stops with Dasein's nothingness as a free starting-point. (This is not Dasein's "Schuldigsein" as it figures in §58 of Sein und Zeit, usually translated with overly moral undertones as 'being-guilty', but rather its photographic negative.)
In certain moments of Dasein, this existential condition of being cast into the nothingness of freedom, can be seemingly shared with another Dasein. This eery moment of empathic appreciation of each other across the gulf of metaphysical isolation is encounter (as distinct from meeting). Such inadvertent moments, occuring, as has been noted, not through a willed, intentional turning-toward, are fleeting, they are almost nothing at all, they are in-significant. But this fleetingness, nothingness and in-significance of the encounter between Dasein and Dasein as you-and-me does not mean that the encounter is ontologically insignificant. The encounter is the ontic possibility of directly experiencing worldsharing as such, i.e. the Mitsein of Dasein and Dasein as such in their respective selfhood, thus providing an experiential basis for the fundamental existential-ontological structure called Mitsein in such a way that even the metaphysical isolation of Dasein from Dasein in their very Mitsein becomes a mutual, unverifiable, inkled experience.
The encounter is a unique possibility of worldsharing that in turn opens up the possibility of sharing a world-attunement, a resonance which lingers on and continues to resound in each Dasein. The bare touching of Dasein and Dasein as you-and-me, in which each fleetingly gains an appreciation of the eery nothingness of the other and thus shares the predicament of existence, is enough to attune each other lingeringly. Being together in the world is thus coloured and attuned by a mood/mode of shared existence. How we are in the world is momentarily, seemingly shared. This experience of encounter is only possible in the second person, or rather, it is essentially the experience of the second person on its deepest, purest, most fragile level, a level on which an ontological significance can be made out, even though the experience itself seems in-significant and eludes signification.
In the third person, the other is not you in a personal reciprocity but other Dasein that is understood, even empathetically and sympathetically, as another being and mostly via the mediation of other beings (since the other is being-in-the-world and thus involved with beings in their referential structure). This does not mean that in the third person the other is understood objectively or with cool rationality or the like as opposed to a subjective understanding of the other in the second person in which, say, the heart is involved. A mood or attunement with the other is by no means lacking when experiencing the other in the third person, nor are inclinations toward, say, compassion or responsibility or charity in a moral dimension excluded. Between the third person and the second person the pertinent difference is not that between objectivity and subjectivity. The difference is rather that in the second person encounter, Dasein and Dasein are immediately present to each other as such in mutually invoking and recognizing the other, which in turn opens up the possibility that the essential temporal nothingness of individual Dasein in their selfhood is shared directly, no matter how fleetingly and misunderstandably (for an encounter can never be validated and is, in a certain sense, a mere auto-suggestive chimera, an impossible experience of an intimate 'we' ruled out in principle by the metaphysical state of isolation).
Dasein's irrevocable (metaphysical) individuation is seemingly briefly suspended in a fleeting and unpredictable moment of mutual appreciation of each other's terrible exposure to the time granted individually by being, i.e. to freedom. The fleetingness of encounter and its terrible insight may cause Dasein to take flight into a faith in God, who is imagined as reliably 'there' for me. The faithful togetherness with God apparently remedies the defects of a mere encounter with you in its barely fleeting presence. God fills the terrible nothingness of freedom. Each of us has to play the game of being in being thrown and drawn into the necessity of each of us casting a self out of the open possibilities arriving from the future, and this destiny of belonging to being as individual, free selves can apparently be shared directly in rare moments of a mutual inkling of each other's selves as such.
The terrifying existential nothingness out of which each Dasein gains or has gained its self remains totally concealed in third person togetherness (in which others appear alongside other thingly beings) and also for the most part in second person togetherness (when we meet and perhaps exchange views). In fact, second person togetherness takes place for the most part as if Dasein were not essentially a fragile self-casting out of nothingness, but instead as if it were the commerce between firmly constituted, substantial subjects with a standing having intercourse with each other.
To recapitulate: Second person togetherness takes place for the most part by no means scarcely and barely but on the basis of apparently consolidated, standing selves, of selves that have already posited through will their own stance in the world and have thus established themselves as selves. Everyday intercourse does its utmost to cover up the nothingness lying at the core of every individual, and philosophy overwhelmingly goes along with this cover-up. A scarce sharing of world with each other is enabled not simply by the openness of the common, shared truth of being but presupposes beyond that the appreciation of each other as such in the immediacy of the second person, which in turn opens up the possibility of gaining a fleeting, eery, apparent insight into each other's terrible nothingness. We may scarcely have anything to do with each other, but we are, in the fleeting truth of encounter as you-and-me, together and open to each other as essentially cast into and cast out of temporal nothingness. Having-been-cast into the world in situations, against which Dasein is powerless, is Dasein's beenness, its having-been. Being cast into nothingness is the free spontaneity of the present moment. Casting out of nothingness means that each of us has to gather up and cast its self forward into the future out of the individual possibilities to which it is empowered, and which, for the most part, are simply adopted from the self-images mirrored from the world, from 'people'.
The being of Dasein, being in the Da of timespace generated by Dasein's existing, is thus shared, but in essentially different ways. Mitsein is folded into various modes or dimensions, namely, Mitsein in the third and second persons; and second person Mitsein as having to do with each other in turn bears the exceptional, scarce (im)possibility of encounter within it. The question of Mitsein is that of the being of togetherness. The phenomena of solitude and loneliness point to togetherness, not by dint of pointing to the natural opposite or complement to them, but as an essential aspect of togetherness itself, for solitude and loneliness are only possible within the dimension of togetherness. Here on this ontological level, opposites belong together as belonging to the same, namely, the e(/n of the clearing of being that gathers together, but ineluctably gathers together individually. Being together or alone as ontic possibilities are only possible because Dasein is essentially Mitsein and individual Selbstsein at one and the same time (a(/ma). Simultaneous solitude and togetherness is no contradiction ontologically; Dasein itself ex-ists this contradiction
The fleeting moment of, if not recognition, then inkling each other as individualized Dasein is not simply an ontic occurrence or an ontic option, but is an exceptional ontic (im)possibility that signals an existential-ontological peculiarity, namely, that Dasein's selfhood and thus its metaphysical isolation is paradoxically shared in togetherness (Mitsein). This experience of 'existential solidarity' may mean (ontically) that Dasein is more able to bring itself to stand in selfhood in its individual existence. The apparent ephemeral suspension of the metaphysical isolation of one Dasein from another may enable an individual Dasein to better come to terms with its ineluctable lot of having to gain a foothold in the world by casting and establishing its self in the world. Such sharing of the predicament of existing, by gaining momentary, apparent insight into the truth of the 'common lot' that the other is in the same predicament, may give heart, it may encourage. Being's call to (come to a) stand as self is a common call to all Dasein, enabling a certain kind of 'solidarity'. This ontic possibility is just one way of indicating the tension between the metaphysical isolation of individualized Dasein and its essential Mitsein. A fleeting, inadvertent encounter in the second person allows togetherness to be experienced apparently with existential immediacy as a chimerical, intimate 'we'. For the most part, everyday life is not encounter, i.e. you and I do not encounter each other in everyday life, but rather we only have to do with each other indirectly in our common involvement with the matters that currently concern each of us. In coming together in a meeting we take care of the business at hand, and the abyss of encounter, which takes place only rarely and suddenly and ineffably in the unpredictable interstices of the world, remains in withdrawal.
The encounter of you-and-me in rare, unforeseen moments is a mere brushing by one another as if nothing had happened. And nothing has indeed happened the reciprocal inkling of the nothingness of each of our ex-sistences. The truth of encounter is non-graspable. The phenomenon of you-and-me is still a phenomenon experienced individually, i.e. only I experience the immediacy of the encounter as shared with you. I can never experience immediately what you experience, and the encounter as a fleeting experience of sharing mutual, apparent insight into each other is my experience. Paradoxically, it is I who experiences the togetherness of encounter with you in its immediacy, thus imputing a mutuality of recognition and insight to us both that can never be validated. It is precisely this imputation that constitutes the encounter: the moment of immediate togetherness in the world in which our metaphysical isolation is paradoxically mutually shared. The experience of apparent, mutual recognition and insight in the encounter is an uncertain, implicit and even impossible imputation that respects the other's essential concealment and withdrawnness into their own irrevocable, individual selfhood. The insight is blurred, atmospheric, merely inkled. The in-betweenness of encounter is the shared presence of withdrawal from each other, a presence for each other of each other's absence from each other. Even (and especially) if the other asseverates our intimate togetherness verbally, this asseveration confirms also the distance between us as individual selves that have come apparently near through the encounter.
Speech is always already one step removed from the immediacy of encounter, whose disclosive truth remains always essentially precarious and chimerical, ambiguous, ineffable and incommunicable. The moment of togetherness as such remains withdrawn beyond language; it cannot be thematized without turning into something about which we speak. Only the directness of a gesture can perhaps match the directness of an encounter. The ineffability of encounter is not because it is too great for words, like a mystical vision, but because it is too slight and evasive for words. In the very moment of the seemingly most intimate, though fleeting, togetherness with you (who may be a complete stranger), I am thrown back onto my individualized self, forever encapsulated in metaphysical isolation, and even the immediate sharing of this isolation remains uncertain, beyond the grasp of a gathering into language, a mere atmospheric, resonant inkling.
As a free individual I remain, by virtue of metaphysical necessity, forever encrypted in my freedom, inaccessible to any other. Each of us holds onto and withholds its own self in openly encountering the other in the world. Withholding ourselves within the singularity of our respective isolated selves, we mutually give of ourselves in apparently appreciating each other's status as a self. (Our exchange of proper names can be a sign of this acknowledgement.) The encounter does reveal our selves to each other but it does so in revealing that we as selves are essentially withdrawn and hidden from each other, even though our being-in-the-world is necessarily reciprocally transparent. This withdrawal is something that in no way depends on us or our respective wills and is not an ontic state that could be otherwise; rather it is an ontological withdrawal and encryption against which we are metaphysically impotent to undertake anything at all, just as we are metaphysically impotent to make our being-in-the-world opaque to others. The others always already understand me implicitly, preontologically as Dasein, and they always are able to see me as self insofar as my self is both a mirroring from the world and is mirrored in my way of living in the world.
Because it is free and cast spontaneously and individually out of nothing, the self is essentially encrypted within itself. Even the most ruthless and desperate attempt to be brutally frank or unreservedly open, to strip one's self to nakedness cannot overcome or suspend each Dasein's withholding of its very own self, for Dasein cannot elude its existential condition of freedom, its insubstantial nothingness. Insofar it can also never be understood and grasped by the other, since it is ultimately and essentially unfathomable. Any explanation of the other has to resort to the third person and the causality of circumstances and imputed motives, which necessarily misses the other's free individuality. So it would seem that truth, in being ineluctably shared between us, can only be shared deficiently insofar as withdrawal of self is a kind of concealment. But this concealment is itself revealed, since the encounter opens up each other's encryption as such to a momentary, uncertain, impossible view. The ontological truth of the encounter is the truth of our existential-ontological withdrawal from each other precisely at the point where one could say that we are closest to each other. The truth (disclosedness) of the encounter is the shared openness of the encryption (enclosedness) of each other's self, analogously to how Heidegger thinks the self-encryption of being itself in the clearing. The self-encryption of Dasein itself as free self corresponds to, is a response to the event-uation of the clearing of self-encryption.
Encryption of the self is open in the encounter and forms the backdrop to all (everyday second person) commercium between Dasein and Dasein, in which beings in their (third person) being are decrypted as a matter of course and mutually shared explicitly in their truth and untruth, especially through speaking with one another. Whereas thingly beings can show themselves of themselves, albeit perhaps incompletely or distortedly, they are not essentially encrypted because they have no selves, no essential nothingness as a site of withdrawal. On the contrary, their being-in-the-world is necessarily open to view, cast within a definite historical world-understanding. Thus even Dasein in the third person say, as the subject of psychology has no secrets and can be subjected to unconcealment, for it is not essentially encrypted. The subject of psychology can be empirically interrogated and theoretically modelled. Modern science, to be science, must take a third-person view of the human being, for only in this way can it adhere to the modern scientific method first consummately articulated by Descartes. Encryption here does not mean that the other is encoded and has to be decoded, as if you and I were a puzzle or mystery or enigma for each other that had to be deciphered or decrypted, but rather: encryption signifies the empty, open crypt (not a being) in which each and every individual Dasein is enclosed and encapsulated and sheltered (geborgen) within its very own, singular, individual, free self. This free self is the openness for the world itself out of which it freely casts and moulds itself, thus showing its self off in the world for all to see, mostly in the third person.
The crypt of the self is both openness and closedness, decryption (of beings in standing out in the world) and encryption (of itself), decalyption and encalyption at one and the same time (a(/ma). The encounter between you and me, as an ontic experience, is more than this; it is not just the (ontological) insight into the simultaneity of openness and closedness, etc., but the mutually shared openness of enclosedness of the self, the precarious, uncertain, mutual decryption of the self's encryption, the decalyption of encalyption for each other. The encounter is the flickering, experienced truth of our reciprocal withdrawal from each other into ourselves, which is thereby apparently shared in a mood of togetherness. It is the ontic indication of the existential-ontological truth of mutual self-encryption.
It is not just that in the encounter, which is of its nature fleeting, I do not know everything about you, for, even on getting to know you, and even after knowing you for a long time, and hearing your personal history, this in no way overcomes or outflanks or suspends the encryption in which you withhold yourself as free self with your very own openness for the world. Nevertheless, your withholding yourself, your self-encryption as such is open or obvious to me because I am open to your freedom, even and especially (in the case of power relations) in denying it. This is why the idea of an intersection and overlapping of open circles of truth between you and me is entirely inadequate to the phenomenon of encounter being interpreted here, for it is adequate only for considering intercourse between Dasein and Dasein in the second person of a meeting in which the truth (disclosedness) of beings in the third person is shared in a common concern with a matter at hand, perhaps a political issue. It is our very closedness, hiddenness or self-encryptedness from and for each other as free selves that we share with each other in an encounter, not just by each of us taking in the truth of such encryptedness but by sharing it with each other in a flash of apparent mutual recognition.
The reciprocity of recognition is only ever inkled and surmised, since there is no overarching vantage point from where a reciprocity between you and me could be established with certainty. Togetherness as such is without a topos from where it could be observed from the outside; it is U-topian. Only our two selves can each inkle in a mood that the isolation of individual selfhood has been fleetingly held in abeyance in the togetherness of a moment. The 'we' of encounter is only barely present in a chimerical inkling, so that its ontological status is more fragile than the 'we' of an agreement that can attain third-person presence, say, in a written contract.
The encounter is also always unique, and that in two senses. Firstly, each encrypted self is singular, individual; I cannot confuse you in your encryptedness to me with anyone else in their encryptedness to me, because your self in its encryptedness bears your name, a mark of your singularity, even when you remain completely anonymous. (For anonymity itself is situated within namedness as a deficient mode of namedness.) Moreover, the encounters that may happen between you and me at different times have no continuity and history, but are unique each and every time. The encounter as singular moment does not achieve any stability, constancy or continuity in time, so that, in not constantly presencing, it is scarcely an entity; you-and-I (in the second-person fold of encounter) are neither you nor I, and are scarcely beings at all but only the rare event-uations of momentary encounters. In encountering each other, we have no identity in the sense of a sameness that maintains itself through time (although we are named and thus in this sense identified). The encounter contradicts any meaning of being as a standing constancy of presence. A repetition of encounter is always an unexpected surprise. Rarity here means temporal sparseness. The coming about of Dasein's individual existential time is punctuated by rare encounters whose rarity is not simply an ontic fact but an index of the ontological status of (second person) encounter as an interstice in the event-uation of the prevailing third-person world and the everyday commerce among Dasein in which the involvement with beings in the third person predominates.
The simple withdrawal from each other into our respective selves is what is most obvious, although, precisely because of its obviousness and simplicity, it is mostly overlooked, and that first and foremost in philosophy with its foundations in an ontology of standing, well-defined and therefore constant presence where the 'soul' or 'ego' is postulated as a kind of entity alongside other entities. The withdrawal from each other cannot be overcome, nor, on the other hand, can the withdrawal from each other into our respective selves be covered up. No matter how much you may try to disguise yourself or refrain from telling me pertinent details about yourself, this has no effect on the ontologically fundamental obvious disclosedness of your withdrawal from me into your individual, singular self, for this withdrawal is your ontological destiny, granted, or rather dealt out, by the truth of being, and disclosed explicitly by the existential ontology of Dasein as a self.
This ontological destiny becomes obvious as such in the second person encounter where the synapses of you-and-me briefly flash. Dasein's being essentially Mitsein of Dasein and Dasein means that the self's encryption is necessarily shared; moreover, this encryption can be fleetingly shared as such, i.e. as the disclosedness of self-encryption, in an encounter. This sharing of the truth of encryption can take place either (non-mutually) in the third person or (mutually) in the second person (i.e. in the encounter). In the third person, this sharing means that I, and you too, have always already understood the other preontologically as Dasein and thus as a self, but this sharing of encrypted selfhood is not a sharing with each other as such. In everyday intercourse, where we meet in the second person, the truth of encryption is also not shared with each other but is only acknowledged implicitly in addressing each other as Dasein. Only in the experience of the encounter in the second person do we explicitly share with each other, no matter how fleetingly and uncertainly, our common existential predicament as free selves, each casting itself temporally for the sake of its self out of nothingness.
The sharing of a mood in being brushed by the resonant experience of you-and-me in the world is not mystical, i.e. esoteric, and should not be put on a higher plane that depreciates the understanding for each other we may develop in getting to know each other. Such understanding and familiarity are not to be spurned as objectification or reification of an 'authentic union' with the other in some sort of mystical 'encounter' (which is mysterious nonetheless). Nor should the converse misunderstanding arise: the encounter between you and me in its flickering, ephemeral slightness should not be regarded as a mere vacuous, passing feeling that has to be translated and gathered and solidified into a rational understanding to gain substance. Togetherness as you-and-me does not have any substance; there is nothing solid underlying it. And yet, this flickering moment of togetherness draws us together as beings each of whom is each open to being and thus belong to each other although forever withdrawn from each other in singular self-encryption in a shared ontological destiny. This shared as, the as as shared with each other, is already an ontological clarification of the experience of encounter. We belong to each other in belonging to the open clearing of being which is itself in withdrawal, encrypted. In the experience of the shared as, the world can shape up and be shared in speech; it can be spoken about and turned this way and that (cf. below). But the encounter as such is the mutual recognition of each other's non-substantial selfhood in its singular self-encryption. In this moment, matters at hand (the daily concern with taking care of things) fall away and become momentarily (i.e. in the interstices of time's movement) inconsequential (analogous to how, in the experience of Angst, the world falls away for me in my solitude and becomes meaningless(13)). There is no thing, no common matter at hand that brings or holds us together, but only the terrible moment of shared, blind insight into our individual freedom as selves in our common belonging to being.
How is the mood of being together as you-and-me to be named? What is the attunement of the encounter that attunes us? Is it only one mood, one resonance? In the encounter, you and I interface; you in your withdrawal into your very own, singular self flickers and lights up for an instant, and my very own individuality lights up fleetingly in your eyes. It is the brief (non-)experience of mutual recognition that we are both Dasein, each encrypted in the very-ownness of their own individual existence. This experience of each other attunes us to mildness, a mood neither rough nor sharp nor severe, but calm and moderate, since the encounter, in momentarily and apparently lifting the curtain that separates one individual existence from the other, shows that each of us is existing, i.e. cast out into and exposed to the clearing of being in which each has to lead and mould their own existence. The encounter is the shared experience of an eery realization of having a common, although individualized, destiny as belonging to being. Eeriness and mildness paradoxically go hand in hand here and complement each other; they stake out the dimension of the mood of encounter. Eeriness is the mood of catching a glimpse of each other's self in its encrypted nothingness, whereas in the face of each other's metaphysical isolation each of us is attuned to a mildness that tends to encourage a gentle and conciliatory disposition toward each other rather than the opposite of a sharp and severe one. The latter disposition is suited rather to defining and marking off one's own self-stand against the other's.
What does this attunement mean? Nothing but itself. The mildness commingling with eeriness is not associated with any specific action towards each other. In particular, the attunement of mildness does not call on one of us to perform, say, any charitable act such as a Levinasian "giving the other the last morsel of bread from one's own hungry mouth". The encounter is before any obligation and therefore does not place any obligation on you or me, but rather confronts us with each other's freedom as cast individually into being and casting one's own being as a common destiny. It is not in itself a call to take responsibility for the other (cf. below 'Freedomsharing'). Rather, the mood of mildness emerging out of eeriness is the fleeting experience of Mitdasein as such, i.e. of sharing being-here with another, forever individualized individual. The mood of mildness carries me beyond you to being, disclosing that we each belong to it as individuated selves. So mildness as mood says precious little; but this precious little that is overlooked at first and for the most part is the in-significance of being itself in our shared, but singular way of belonging to it. Hence, precious little is very much.
Mildness does open up the potential for an acceptance for the other also being here, for as Dasein we are metaphysically impotent against togetherness and insofar we belong to each other. You and I both share the destiny of being cast out there in the clearing as free individuals, so we have to make 'the best' (to\ a)gaqo/n) of it. Being free means having to make the best of existence, including being-together in the world. The encounter, with its attunement to the eeriness of metaphysical isolation and the mildness of togetherness accepted, does not necessarily mean that you and I like each other, for liking presupposes an inclination toward and an acquaintance with and thus an understanding of each other's individual ways of being in the world to provide a basis for judging the other in their singularity according to one's own attitudes, interests, background and predilections. The encounter undercuts all such knowing and judgements, for it is 'only' the experience of recognizing each other in our naked existence as Dasein, stripped of any worldly importance we may have or any specific involvement with the world. It is a passing moment in which the moments of the simple contradiction between individuality and togetherness in the world fuse.
Die Rede ist die bedeutungsmäßige Gliederung der befindlichen Verständlichkeit des In-der-Welt-seins. (SuZ 162)Each Dasein has a temporally horizonal world in which beings show themselves in the openness of the truth of being. In this showing lies Dasein's understanding of the world, which is always an understanding on the basis and from the perspective of Dasein's casting of itself towards its very own possibilities, i.e. understanding is always within the context of Dasein's self-casting in a given direction which provides the sense (including the possibility of senselessness) of its existence. This understanding of oneself can be expressed in language. This is where Dasein and Dasein come to explicitly share the truth of being (which is always the individualized truth of their own being as self-casting selves) with each other. This does not mean, of course, that each Dasein simply has a 'subjective standpoint' but that each Dasein always understands out of the directing sense of their own self-casting (thrown and moulded) existence. Because Dasein is Mitsein, the truth of the being of beings is always already essentially shared implicitly, but this sharing only becomes an explicit, realized (e)ne/rgeia) sharing when Dasein and Dasein actually speak with each other. The truth of the being of beings opens up to Dasein in understanding as well as in the moodedness which permeates Mitdasein in its essential immersion in an attunement to being. Dasein is inundated by the resonances of being. Speaking is never merely the transfer of information from one Dasein to another but is always also a sharing of attunement through the way in which Dasein speaks i.e., "in the tone of voice, modulation, the speed of speaking, in the 'way of speaking'" (SuZ 162). Self-understanding as well as the moods of being to which Dasein is open can be shared with other Dasein in speaking with them.
Talking to each other does not necessarily have anything to do with encounter in the specific sense employed here. There are many modes of talking to each other, ranging through the reporting of information, providing facts, instructing and teaching, making a business proposition, refusing a request, exhorting to a political or moral stance, calling for critical consideration of a state of affairs, discussing a problem, working out a common way forward, proposing marriage, etc. etc. For the most part, talking to each other is a matter of discussing daily concerns arising from the involvement with things, from inter-ests, whether it be at the personal level or the political, social or economic levels. Encounter is already an exception that enables a special kind of talking to each other. Talking to each other is usually directed towards taking care of things in a daily life which has already assumed a firm, habitual cast. Daily life is usually daily routine which moves in a certain pre-determined direction in the circles and well-worn ruts of habit. But this habituality of daily existence should not deceive us into thinking that Dasein is ontologically predetermined, for it is essentially free (i.e. beyond beings) and involved in a free play with the world in which and into which it casts and has to cast its self ever anew. The exceptional nature, i.e. the ontic rarity, of an encounter that may possibly lead to a recasting of self should not be allowed to obscure its fundamental significance in an ontology of existence, for it shows how Dasein's self-casting is essentially open to the malleability inherent in Mitsein. Heidegger writes:
Das Hören auf... ist das existenziale Offensein des Daseins als Mitsein für den Anderen. Das Hören konstituiert sogar die primäre und eigentliche Offenheit des Daseins für sein eigenstes Seinkönnen, [...] Das Aufeinander-hören, in dem sich das Mitsein ausbildet, hat die möglichen Weisen des Folgens, Mitgehens, die privativen Modi des Nicht-hörens, des Widersetzens, des Trotzens, der Abkehr. (SuZ 163)As essentially Mitsein, Dasein cannot help but listen to others and thus explicitly share the world in speech. Even in not following what others say, in disagreeing with them, Dasein is sharing its being-in-the-world with others. Listening to others is an essential way the world is reflected to Dasein and is taken up into its casting of its self.
What does talking with and listening to each other have to do with encounter? This question is taken up in the next section.
Responsibility can only be the response to an appeal on the part of the other who, in one way or another, signals that they are unable to cope with (the burden of) their own existence. Being unable to cope is only possible, however, because the other as free Dasein is a being-able, i.e. it is Seinkönnen. (In-ability is nevertheless still in-ability, i.e. located within the same dimension of ability, Seinkönnen.) The other as free Dasein must decide for themselves if they are able to cope with the demands of existence and signal this in an appeal to individual Dasein it meets to assume responsibility for it. For Dasein to presume it has to assume responsibility for the other without responding to an appeal would be to deny the other's freedom to its self-casting out of its own possibilities in caring for itself. Dasein must also understand the appeal being made by the other when they appear on the horizon of its world in order to be able to respond to the appeal, i.e. it must interpret the signal of appeal given by the other as such. Only then can Dasein either accept responsibility for the other or refuse it as an act of its own freedom within the overarching casting of its own self. The entire interchange of appeal and response/responsibility eventuates in the dimension of freedom which, in any case, is not restricted exclusively to such a narrow spectrum of relations between Dasein and Dasein.
An encounter is in itself a fleeting interruption to the absorption in our daily concerns with taking care of things and indicates, just as fleetingly, the in-significance of the ties to the beings with which each of us is involved by momentarily suspending this involvement. In the encounter, by un-willingly allowing things and the world as an interrelated, meaningful assemblage of things we use in daily life to recede into insignificance, the mood of eery mildness also allows our individual status as being somewho with an established status through an involvement with everyday affairs to recede or momentarily fade into insignificance. Thus it is insignificant for you and me as belonging to and sharing being who we are in terms of the ties we have to beings, i.e. it is insignificant that each of us has a particular occupation and understands their self in terms of this occupation, which is an involvement with beings in the structured totality of the world recognized and estimated also by others. In this sense, in the encounter you and I are stripped of our usual self-understanding that arises out of our respective involvements with and thus stances in the world. Differences in social standing, for example, are suspended and dissolve momentarily into insignificance in a mood of mildness born of an eery empathy which corresponds to and resonates with the simplicity of our metaphysical destiny.
Encounter is an unexpected surprise and an exceptional happening which, as an interface, opens up the crossroads of a possibility available in the present moment of a decision. "What might have been and what has been / Point to one end, which is always present."(14) One such possibility is that of talking to each other in the intimacy which the encounter opens up as a possibility. Intimacy is the mutual disclosing to each other of one's self in its casting temporality and temporal casting. In such a dialogue it is not just that the truth of beings is shared, nor that a consensus or agreement can be reached in dialogue about an issue within the clearing of being's truth, nor that a matter of concern which is at hand is discussed in order to agree on a course of concerted action, but, beyond that and because all understanding and sharing of understanding is embedded in a self-casting, the freedom of the self-casting selves that encounter each other in the encounter can itself come into a common play or, more precisely, an interplay.
Since each self is essentially self-casting, the sharing of world in speech with you can possibly bring movement into and influence the direction of my self-casting. The crossroads of an encounter can lead to existence taking on a new direction, i.e. to it assuming a new sense. The ontological significance of the fleeting, disclosive truth of an encounter must therefore not be under-estimated, for it can reveal another direction for self-casting. Dasein is the free temporal casting of its self out of nothingness, which is thus of its nature temporary. The temporality of Dasein implies the temporariness of its casting. The self is always temporal and thus provisional and temporary, no matter how much ontically it may be set in its ways (which is ontologically rooted in its castness out of already-having-been-cast). It is always subject to re-vision (without notice) under the vision of an alternative self-casting, cast as it is out of the coming about of Dasein's three temporal ecstasies in which the future holds open possibilities of existence. In being open to re-vision, self-casting is always subject to re-casting, to re-moulding in which other possibilities of existence are taken up that, for a time and based on a definite understanding of the world, bind Dasein in another commitment and engagement. This does not imply that the self is simply buffeted hither and thither by the winds of mere fancy and caprice but that Dasein's self is a free play with the world that is essentially open-ended because any commitment to existing in a particular way and direction can be revoked by the world's opening up in another way, and another way for life's movement, thus giving rise to another understanding, perhaps mediated, or at least triggered by an encounter with other Dasein.
By providing the barely present interface to an (unlikely) possible intimacy, the encounter holds also the unlikely possibility of recasting one's self, no matter whether this recasting involves the intertwining of two existences or whether the encounter provides simply a passing, decisive impulse at crossroads. The world that is invoked and evoked in talking with each other can show a different face. The truth of beings in the world is multifaceted and can shimmer this way and that, depending on which way the light of truth falls upon them and from which vantage point of self-casting the world is viewed. The truth of beings, their openness to view, is never unrelated to Dasein's casting out of its situational understanding of the world, so that truth is always tied to the current temporal direction of existence, the current orientation within the three dimensions of time from which Dasein finds and takes its sense of self, i.e. its self-understanding, and directs the current of its own existence. All kinds of sharing of the world in its truth can impinge on Dasein's self-casting, not just sharing by way of encounter. A single piece of world news can alter the direction of Dasein's existence, not necessarily by changing the factual circumstances of life (as in the case, say, of momentous political events), but by presenting Dasein with an other possibility of existence that fires it to grasp this possibility. Although, ontically speaking, youth is more prone to the openness of possibilities, since the castness of having-already-been-cast does not yet weigh heavily upon it, Dasein remains self-casting into the future as long as it ek-sists, i.e. stands out temporally into the openness of the truth of the world in its play.
As just one exceptional possibility of the interface opened up by an encounter, there is that of you and me coming together to share our freedom concretely, i.e. to mould a shared casting of our selves in which our self-castings in our respective finite lifetimes are freely intertwined in a commitment to each other. Even this free binding of one self to the other is subject to recasting and revision during the course of existence. The free we of a shared existence can be dissolved once again because the (ontological) individuality of self can never be essentially obliterated, even though factually it can be extinguished if Dasein ontically allows itself to forfeit the independence of its existence, and represses and denies its ineluctable freedom. On the other hand, the sharing of the routine of daily life in the habits of domesticity so-called family life does not necessarily imply an intertwining of individual self-castings, since a casting of self reaches far beyond the ambit of daily routine and the adoption of social roles which may be, and mostly are, merely a superficial shell to the core casting of self, assuming that Dasein has chosen its self at all. Sharing family life may be lived alienation from the self.
For the most part, Dasein does not share its existence with other Dasein in the mode of an intertwining of existences; nor does Dasein for the most part encounter other Dasein in a transient moment of shared insight into each other's naked selves. Nevertheless, Dasein as Mitsein is fundamentally world-sharing. In sharing the world opened by being, each of us shares the freedom granted by being even though each of us leads our own lives and spends our own individual life-time in a singular direction. This is the fundamental ontological issue facing us: to think through the existence of oneself and the other each as free selves who are together in the world. This problematic comes before any ethical considerations aimed at channeling freedom in one direction or the other by means of, say, a priori moral imperatives or obligations or responsibilities.
Each of us exists for the sake of our selves (even in self-sacrifice), and our respective self-casting always incorporates others (even, and especially, in living selfishly). Each Dasein is a self who individually casts their self onto the temporal horizon of the world. For-the-sake-of-self is not a formula for solipsism or egoism but is a translation of Heidegger's "Umwillen seiner selbst" which is in turn derived from the Aristotelean ou(= e(/neka of the Nicomachean Ethics. What does for-the-sake-of-self mean? "Sake" itself is an old word that survives today almost solely in the phrase 'for the sake of...'. The sake is a cause or issue. The issue can be a contention at law, guilt, a charge or accusation, or a ground for accusation. To say that Dasein exists for the sake of itself means that its own existence as a self is an issue. How it exists, i.e. how it casts itself, always remains an issue for it as a self that is ineluctably free. The world is only for Dasein, and it is for Dasein only in passing through the mediation of self.
All understanding of the world is understanding for an individual Dasein who has always already cast itself and can only recast itself on the basis of its own, individual, concrete understanding. Beings in the world, including other Dasein, only enter Dasein's world through the filter of Dasein's self. Selfhood is the ineludible gateway for anything to enter Dasein's world, not because Dasein is self-obsessed but because it cannot be other than an individual self even when it 'follows the crowd' and is a timid conformist. Even guilt and responsibility, for example, phenomena in which Dasein loses its unencumbered autarchy, is the guilt or responsibility of a self for which guilt or responsibility becomes an issue for its freedom. The Umwillen or wherefore of Dasein is its self, for which it exists nolens volens. Dasein in its selfhood is free; it has always already cast itself beyond beings to the horizon of time onto which it projects its own projects, and the timespace granted to it provides the dimensionality for these projects. This implies in particular that any relations between Dasein and Dasein are the relations between freely casting selves for each of which its free self is an issue. In self-casting, each Dasein refers to a common, shared horizon of time, however.
For Dasein's self to be an issue means that its self remains an open project for as long as it exists. In particular, Dasein is open to the advent of other Dasein into its world which can in turn lead to a modification of its self-casting. For the most part, relations between Dasein and Dasein do not subtend any modification of self-casting since worldsharing usually consists merely in taking common cognisance of happenings in the world: the news, the weather and suchlike, or in passing transactions of everyday life. Such everyday worldsharing does not amount to a shared commitment, which is at the heart of the question confronting us here, but is simply Dasein and Dasein passing by each other or tangentially connecting in daily life. Each Dasein, in casting its self, holds up to itself a certain concrete understanding of beings in the world on which its self-casting is based; it commits itself to a definite understanding of the world and to itself as cast and casting being-in-the-world. If each commitment is the commitment of an individual self, then how is a shared commitment at all possible?
The possibility of the intertwining of existences has already been mentioned above, but this problematic has to be deepened in terms of the sharing of the individual timespace which each Dasein is and inhabits ex-sistentially. Any shared commitment is by its very nature (its essence) dividual. Whereas at the one extreme each individual Dasein cannot escape its individuality, at the other, there is no possibility of a dividual commitment becoming in-dividual, i.e. indivisible, even though being-in-the-world is always essentially shared in the sense that the world in its basic historical ontological truth is always 'held in common'. The dividual commitment of a shared self-casting between Dasein and Dasein can always fall apart but, so long as it holds, it involves the commingling of two individual existences in timespace. But how can individual existences commingle in timespace at all? Because time itself is a unified, shared horizon (to\ e(/n) and as such it is the perimeter of the clearing for truth (unconcealedness).
From trying to get the phenomenon of Dasein and Dasein sharing the world into view, we have now ended up with at least a provisional insight into Dasein and Dasein sharing the horizon of time. This initial insight needs to be deepened. Whereas any common commitment of Dasein to a shared project is essentially dividual, since Dasein itself is always individual, the shared horizon of timespace for any such common projects is itself in-dividual, i.e. it cannot be divided up, but remains an indivisible unity. Each individual Dasein leads its own existence in disposing of its life-time. So long as it exists, Dasein can share its life-time with others in common projects which, however, remain essentially dividual. Since Dasein is essentially Mitsein, it has always already entered into common projects with other Dasein, no matter how trivial and commonplace they may be.
For the most part, everyday Dasein's projects consist of mundane, little transactions such as greeting each other or purchasing some everyday item. These mini-projects are always embedded in an overarching existential project, no matter how conventional. These little transactions presuppose that Dasein and Dasein share a being-involved-with the matter at hand. This shared being-involved-with... need not be associated with a bodily closeness to each other in a common environment, and the matter at hand does not have to be anything 'physical', but the shared being-involved-with... does require a sharing of time, even if it is only the time of the present, the moment in which the matter is dealt with. Such 'little projects' in the present are quickly settled, but there are more momentous shared projects as well which require claims being made on a shared future, within whose ambit the project can come to fruition. Between the present, in which the shared project is decided and agreed on between Dasein and Dasein, and the future, there is an intervening temporal space within which the necessarily individual projects of both (or all) Dasein involved have to cohere with each other so as to realize the shared project. That is, the shared project always remains ultimately dividual, since it depends on individual Dasein that can never take leave of its individuality, despite a firm commitment to a shared project.
A sharing of projects within the shared timespace of the world is an essential characteristic of Mitsein (togetherness). Dasein is always already involved with other Dasein, either directly or indirectly, i.e. its projects have always already intermeshed with those of others. This means that Dasein's projections into the future always rely on those of other Dasein, i.e. the realization of any project always involves mutual commitment and to that extent a common claim on the temporal ecstasy of the future. Thus Dasein as Mitsein is essentially interested in stabilizing the future, i.e. of controlling how the future arrives in the present and this requires commitments to be made to each other that shape the future and lend constancy and thus viability to projects that have been initiated.
Perhaps one of the simplest and ubiquitous examples of a common claim on the temporal ecstasy of the future is that of the marketplace for goods and services made available on the market and among which Dasein can pick and choose (at a price) in realizing its everyday projects in dealing with everyday affairs. The offer of goods and services is a holding-open of the future on the part of suppliers for consumer/purchaser Dasein to take advantage of in one or another of its projects. Any sort of offer means holding the future open for other Dasein to choose as a possibility for its own projects. Such holding-open is only possible because the Da of Dasein is such an open timespace that is shared by individual Dasein.
Because Dasein, as long as it exists, is always projected forward into the future, it is always unfinished and open. The future always withholds that toward which Dasein has projected its self in self-casting, so Dasein is always and essentially lacking and unfinished (pe/nhj, a)telh/j, ste/rhsij). It is always and essentially desirous of a desideratum situated within the withheld dimension of the future and a movement toward what is desired. Since, however, Dasein's projects always essentially involve others, it always has to rely on others making commitments to the future in accord with its own projects. The future is always withheld, but in its advent into the present, the past commitments of others have to be fulfilled if Dasein's projects are to come to fruition. Dasein thus always has to rely on others making and sticking to common future commitments, e.g. on them giving their word, keeping their word, fulfilling agreements. The phenomena of commitment and reliability (in the broadest sense which includes also their opposites of non-commitment and unreliability) are essential aspects of Mitsein as the sharing of the temporal ecstasy of the future. These phenomena are reciprocal, which implies that Dasein and other Dasein are always dependent on each other in realizing their projects thus shaping the future together, although this dependency is not necessarily simultaneous or to the same extent.
The obverse side of this is the strife that arises in togetherness when commitments are not fulfilled, i.e. when the self-castings into the future do not intermesh or synchronize, but diverge unexpectedly. Strife is an essential moment of Dasein's being-toward-the-future. Strife can emerge when Dasein and other Dasein cannot reach agreement on a common projection into the future on which both or all depend, but, even once agreement is reached, the future also has to arrive in a synchronized way corresponding to the fulfilment of the common agreement. Since any agreement is open not only to being broken, but also to interpretation in which a common understanding is laid out, any agreement is open to misunderstanding and thus to strife igniting between Dasein and other Dasein. Because all truth is mediated by individual selves, the shared truth needed to take on any shared project is always at risk of falling apart. Concrete togetherness, in its reliance on an intermeshing of Dasein's individual projects in the future, is thus necessarily and of its essence full of misunderstandings and strife as well as a blatant breaking of word on the part of an individual. The openness of the future and Dasein's projections into it do not just mean that Dasein is essentially exposed to the fickleness of fortune, i.e. of 'things' not turning out as planned, but especially to others' refusal to fulfil their commitments, their promises which mostly happens through other Dasein withdrawing into a non-commital stance or disputing the interpretation of the common agreement. Disagreement arises; one no longer sees eye to eye. In standing out into the future, Dasein's existence is thus essentially subject to disappointments resulting from its projects not being realized, some of which can be attributed to others not reliably fulfilling their commitments. Misunderstandings and disappointments are necessarily and essentially the lot of temporally constituted, individualized Dasein in sharing the truth of beings with others. Freely given commitment to each other and keeping one's word, of course, are to be distinguished from an a priori, all-encompassing, ethical responsibility for one's fellow human being.
Mitsein is situated within the openness of truth, in which beings shows themselves of themselves, and this openness of truth is temporal. Temporality and truth are intimately intertwined. The sharing of time as the open clearing for the disclosive truth of beings is what essentially characterizes togetherness, and this sharing of truth in time is the lot of human being, which exposes it essentially to discord; for truth is for the most part and essentially subject to distortion and illusion, to occlusion and encryption, and this is only compounded by a sharing of truth temporally, in particular and especially with regard to the future and not, say, disputes over what has happened in the past, in 'history'. Dasein is essentially a being-able, i.e. an enablement and empowerment, to cast itself into the future and hence a living movement toward the future. In this sense it disposes over its own future. But since its projects always involve a shared casting with other Dasein, the realization of projects is essentially associated with misunderstanding, disappointment, disagreement, discord, in short, with strife. For these misunderstandings to arise, shared projects must be launched, and shared projects can only be projected because beings appear in their truth in the openness of the future, proffering concrete possibilities of mutually shared existence. It therefore has to be said that Dasein exists for the sake of its self, and this sake is essentially a contentious issue where the contention arises from Dasein being Mitsein, and Mitsein essentially requiring mutual commitment and a sharing of concrete truth in shaping the arrival of the temporal dimension of the future.
The contentiousness of the issue of Dasein's self does not arise simply from Dasein being egoistically self-interested with the result that there are inevitably clashes of interests; nor does it arise simply from one party to a commitment blatantly breaking its word; rather, the contentiousness of Dasein's shared sake is an essential aspect of Mitsein as such whose origin lies in the ambiguity of the shared concrete truth on which any shared projects, i.e. any having-to-do-with-each-other, are based. The ongoing attempt to harmonize contentious issues is thus the lot of Dasein, and harmony is an exceptional, transient state of Dasein's affairs rather than the rule since the shared projects of Mitsein are essentially subject to potential divisions. This implies in particular that egoism or, more crudely, greed cannot be blamed solely for the dissent and disharmony in Mitsein; its ontological origins lie deeper, namely, i) in Dasein being exposed to the ambiguity of the truth of its common projects and ii) in Dasein's individuation on the one hand, and its dividual togetherness on the other, at one and the same time. The open truth of being, Dasein's inevitably intertwined freedom and the strife over truth, for the most part mediated through others, are ontologically inseparable.
There is no consistent coherence possible which could achieve a harmony of existence, nor is it simply that Dasein is imperfect as compared with a perfect being that is One, without division and outside time. Rather, Dasein as lived temporality is exposed to the double negation of what it is not yet, its un-finishedness (and thus in this sense imperfection), on the one hand, and what it has been, its individual no-longer, which it is powerless to change, on the other. Only in certain rare moments of presence does Dasein experience a fulfilment. These are those 'perfect moments' in which Dasein is at one with a fulfilled presence, and past and future recede into the background. But Dasein as ex-sistence is essentially a three-dimensional standing-out into time. Moreover, it shares this three-dimensional temporal ex-posure with other individualized Dasein with whom it essentially has to forge shared projects in shaping its existence.
One therefore needs no recourse to the moral failings of Dasein to see why the sharing of world is full of strife. Nor is there any possible projection of history in which the strife of togetherness would be sublated (waived and raised) into a final state of harmony. Nor is there a need for a modern, up-dated ethics to instil moral virtue into humankind, or at least regulate its excesses through normative regulation. Rather, Dasein, in being exposed to the future, remains essentially un-finished and has to start perpetually anew, Sisyphus-like, in resolving the strife of togetherness. This is a matter of gaining clear insight into the predicament of shared-but-individualized human being situated in the open timespace of being's truth, rather than of ethical appeals or prescriptions. It is timely that we think about this aspect of our propriation by beyng.
Being not only enables world, but also 'we are' (in the world). 'Are' is a conjugation of the verb 'to be' which performs the primal unity. It is not that language first accomplishes unity, but that language itself is an answer, a response to this primal, unifying gathering of being into the unified openness of being (for Dasein). The unity of being enables the conjugation 'we are'. How is this conjugation or, literally, yoking together, that brings us together possible?
It cannot be a matter of a grammatical explanation in terms of the facts of grammar, for grammar itself is based on an understanding of being. What does the grammatical category of conjugation mean on a more fundamental, phenomenological level?
The conjugation 'we are' in English is not so pronounced as in other languages such as German, where the modifications of the verbal stem are stronger. But, for the sake of a starting-point, what does conjugation mean according to the dictionary?
The OED says: "conjugate v: ... from L. conjugare, to yoke together..."
This Latin origin, in turn, is derived from the Greek: suzugi/a.
The OED once again:
But what is this stem in the case of 'to be'? In the OED we can also
This triple origin is bent once again under the yoke of conjugation
to form the "various forms of voice, mood, tense, number, and person".
Here we are only concerned with the conjugation of number. We have:
Everyone is familiar with such tables from school days. The wes- stem only comes into effect in tenses other than the present. In fact, in English, all the conjugations of person and number in the present tense are derived from the oldest stem es-, although in ME "I be", "you be", etc. was also possible. So far these are only lexicological comments; what do they mean phenomenologically, i.e. when we open our eyes, with regard to the question of being together?
Togetherness (Mitsein) is only possible because of 'we are'. The 'are' of being brings us, gathers us together, allowing 'we' to arise into being. In some still simple and mysterious way, being itself gathers not only everything that is together, but also, or in particular, it gathers us together and lets us be. What is the nature of this gathering into being? And what is it that does the gathering? Being itself? But what does being mean? This has already been said: "whiling dwelling", "coming to while, dwell" in an openness that allows what is present and presented to be taken into a way of dwelling by understanding.
On the one hand, there is everything that is. On the other hand, I am and we are. What is the difference between 'is', 'am' and 'are' here? The 'is' is only for an 'I am' and 'we are'. I am open to taking in, understanding and being attuned by everything that is, including that which I do not understand, i.e. a deficient or deprived mode of understanding. But we too are open to understanding, taking in everything that is presented in the clearing of being. What does this difference between 'I am' and 'we are' point to?
'I am' points to an irremediable and irrevocable individuation of existence as self; I am always myself and nobody else, non-interchangeable and non-substitutable. The world of everything that is, is presented to this, my individual selfhood. But it is also presented to us as selves. Apart from an individual understanding of everything that is, there is also a shared understanding of everything that is. Whence comes this possibility of sharing? It can only come from being itself, which unfolds and folds itself into 'I am' and 'we are'. This means presumably that 'I understand' and 'we understand' are two different phenomena whose origins in being and their intertwinings and interfoldings have to be further investigated. Cf. also my 'Dialectic of Self and Other: Wrestling with Plato, Hegel, Heidegger' and Social Ontology op.cit., especially Chapter 3 on whoness, Chapter 10 vi) 'The individualization of the truth of being' and Chapter 11 'The ontological constitution of 'we ourselves''.
Understanding is rooted in being, i.e. in dwelling, in practical (action-related)
everyday life. It is one of the modes in which the world is taken in by
human being. The yoking performed by being means that we are gathered together
into a unified openness for the world within which we both or all dwell.
My taking in the world is a matter for my self as an individual; we taking
in the world implies two or more individuals taking in the world; it implies
that these respective takings-in of world are in common and can be shared.
Because they are in common, they can be shared explicitly by expressly
articulating them in language. This does not necessarily mean each talking
about their own individual experiences directly the sharing can take
place in many indirect and implicit ways as well. We must already share
a world in common to be able to talk about it and to understand each other.