Thursday, December 16, 2021

engaged being

I came across an insightful article on Heidegger in a mainstream newspaper, written by a senior journalist, which caused me to comment at length. Afterward, I realized that some of that could be useful here for readers who are not familiar with Heidegger’s thinking.

The journalist mentioned Heidegger’s notion of “being in the world,” which occasioned my comment that “indeed, proactive engagement with one’s world is vital.” I didn’t elaborate, but here is a chance for an elaboration which may be surprising:

Heidegger was not referring to a state of affairs: be-ing in the world. He was referring to an activist engagement—equivalent to what French Existentialists later meant by “engagé.” “In-der-Welt-Sein” is meant by Heidegger as we literally read it: in-the-world-being. The German phrase for “being in the world” is different: “auf der Welt sein.”

That kind of difference—structural versus engaged—was implicitly expressed by my further comment at the journalist’s article (comment which unfortunately showed my apostrophes and dashes as errors):
Heidegger sought to open up others’ thinking for the sake of new ways of approaching unprecedented times authentically and lastingly.
The journalist noted that Heidegger’s thinking is “controversial,” which is an understatement. But actually,
Heidegger is controversial because there are a lot of phony readers. Heidegger’s impatience for “idle chatter” and what “They” say was motivated by the attitudes of his academic colleagues. Careerism and lazy reading are as old as the university as form of life.

The ultimate possibility for being in Time—being (even enthralled) engagement—is a “moment of vision” whereby one’s own potential is in actualization. Openness to one’s finitude (death on the horizon—far? near?) reflects that making life fulfilling shouldn’t be postponed. Now is your time. We say this to youth, in awe of their idealistic innocence: This is your time.

You will go through many eras, many ways to belong to proactive being. You are a potential for many identities, all brought into the singularity of this one life where you can make and leave something lasting.

This is part of my introductory discussions of Heidegger’s thinking.