Heidegger, fenomenologia, hermenêutica, existência

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Hatab: Zuhandenheit

segunda-feira 24 de abril de 2017

The notion of meaningful immersion can open up a richer sense of Zuhandenheit   that Heidegger’s emphasis on tool use tends to conceal. The focal concept of Zeug  , translated as [4] “equipment” (MR) or “useful things” (S), is not   sufficient, in my view, to evoke enough of what Heidegger meant by Zuhandenheit. In his own discussion of writing, in addition to pen and paper, Heidegger includes the room wherein one writes, and calls it a Wohnzeug, translated as “equipment for residing” (MR) or “useful for living” (S). Yet the room wherein one writes is less “useful equipment” than a meaningful habitat. I prefer to focus on the dwelling reference (Wohnen  ), which can apply to the richer sense of immersion I am exploring. Zeug can refer to tools, but also things, stuff, and material, which Heidegger wants to associate with what the Greeks called pragmata   (SZ   68)—which, however, is more nominally indicative of an active relation than is Zeug.

At times Heidegger’s account of Zuhandenheit goes well beyond mere tool use and practical tasks. He includes nature in Zuhandenheit, not only as an environment of material for human products, but also the nature which “stirs and strives” and “enthralls us as landscape” (SZ 70). Also included is the “public world,” along with roads, bridges, and buildings, with which an environing nature is implicitly engaged, as weather and terrain, for instance (SZ 71). In Basic Problems of Phenomenology, Zuhandenheit extends to the whole milieu   of concernful dealings, including things like house and yard, forest, sun, light, and heat (BP   108, 303-313). It seems to me that engaged immersion better extends to such phenomena as modes of pre-reflective dwelling than does the sense of practical usage that I believe is overemphasized in Heidegger’s discussion of Zeug and Zuhandenheit. My offering also applies to occasions where Heidegger mentions the zuhanden character of language and signs (SZ 82, 161, 224). Ecstatic immersion is able to capture what I think is meant here, namely the immediate disclosive power of language, [5] rather than a representational relation. In this respect, the idea   of language as a “useful tool” would surely be inappropriate. Here Dasein   is immersed in what language calls forth. [1]

Against a mere practical reading of Zuhandenheit, Heidegger claims that his purpose was not to demonstrate “that the essence of man consists in the fact that he knows how to handle knives and forks or use the tram.” It was meant to open up the “phenomenon of world,” which “requires a very broad and wide-ranging perspective” (FCM 177). Heidegger’s ultimate aim with the concept of Da-sein   was to render with the da a non-subjective, non-objective “openness to being.” This is why he objected to the translation of da as “there,” favoring “openness” (to and for being), in order to get past any origin in subjectivity or consciousness. [2] Yet from a phenomenological standpoint, the “there” can be apt in expressing how engaged immersion is more there in an environment than a “psychological” state. In any case, Zuhandenheit understood as ecstatic immersion is best able to launch a phenomenology of being-in-the-wor/d that is much more than mere practical usage. (p. 3-5)


[1See my article, “The Point of Language in Heidegger’s Thinking: A Call for the Revival of Formal Indication,” Gatherings: The Heidegger Circle Annual 6 (2016), 1-22.

[2See William Lovett on Heidegger’s 1972 letter in this regard to J. Glenn Gray, in The Question Concerning Technology (New York: Harper and Row, 1977) xxxv, note 2.